Being the experienced runner that I am (and by experienced, I mean slightly past beginner level) I have acquired quite the pile of running gear. I say pile as most everything I own that is running related is in a pile in the corner of my closet (it’s clean AND folded…I’m not a complete slob).
Rummaging through it one day when I couldn’t find my favorite sports bra, I decided to take inventory. I also decided to see if there was anything I could bear to get rid of. Lucky for you guys, I am saving you the trouble and compiling a list of all the things I decided I absolutely CANNOT live without for my running adventures. This is not to say there won’t be things added in the future, but for the beginner (such as myself) who is perhaps training for their first half marathon, let me present you with a list of running garb suitable to take you from mile 1 to mile 13.1.
- Good shoes. I cannot express this enough. I honestly believed that any old shoe would suffice and was completely surprised when my 2 year old Asics left me with knee pains around mile 3. I made my way over to Fleet Feet and was fitted for some new fancy kicks. The helpful people there not only measured my feet, they watched me walk, filmed me run, and asked all kinds of questions to make sure I was leaving with the right pair. A small-ish fortune later (this is one of those cases where you don’t want to skimp on quality) I had myself a brand new sparkly pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12s
- Decent apparel. Try to find ‘technical’ items – ie, moister-wicking as cotton can absorb your sweat and cause chafing. No one wants to be chafed with their own sweat- it’s not only kind of gross, but uncomfortable as well. My pile-o-clothes consists of two pairs of Saucony tights – one full length & one mid-calf, two skirts (I’m not a big fan of shorts), a fleece half zip, an Under Armor Cold Gear shirt, and several short-sleeved and sleeveless technical shirts. I have found that even on the coldest days (such as my last 10-k) that my Under Armor, fleece, and leggings were sufficient once I got going.
- Cold Weather Accessories. This winter, I had a great pair of fleece mittens that I used almost everyday. I prefer mittens over gloves because my hands tend to get freakishly cold and gloves don’t seem to cut it. Also, I good fleece ear warmer is a must – just wash it once a week, you don’t want all that dirt and sweat hanging out on your skin too long.
- Good Socks. Again, cotton is rotten for runners, especially when it comes to socks. A few weeks ago when I ran around Cades Cove, about 400 yards into my run, a creek was running across the road. I tried to find away across without getting my feet wet, but I couldn’t so I had to run through it. I prepped myself to deal with squishy-squashy feet and the inevitable blisters from chafing for the next 7 miles, but luckily my feet dried quickly and I had no problems. I accredit this to my fantastical Smartwool socks. They are more than you would normally pay for socks, but they are my favorites.
- Sports Bra. Any fella’s out there, I apologize, but bare with the me for a moment. Ladies, invest in several good sports bras (Champion makes great ones). They catch a lot of the unavoidable “boob sweat” so you’ll be washing them often. Also, nothing is worse then having your lovely lady lumps bouncing around like a Baywatch lifeguard while you are trying your best to run with a little dignity.
- Smartphone. I always run with my phone for three reasons: 1. God forbid I fall someday and break my (insert body part), I’m going to be glad that I have my phone to call for help. 2. It’s my MP3 player. I listen to books while I run. If that’s not your thing, you at least probably like jamming out. 3. MapMyRun. Best app ever. This little gizmo does all the hard work for you – measures your distance and pace, notes your splits, tells how many calories you burn, and then puts it all online for you to check out when you get home. Best part? It’s free! If you haven’t got this on your phone, get it immediately. It’s not limited to running either so you can utilize it for all your other cardio needs as well.
- Armband & headphones for aforementioned phone: I picked up my very generic armband at the Max (That’s T.J. Maxx for all you infrequent shoppers) for like three bucks. Actually I stole it from J, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t pay more than three bucks because he’s just as cheap as I am. Either way, you can find an inexpensive one pretty easily and it’s nice to not worry about dropping it or having it fall out of your pocket while you run. Also, I use ‘in-ear’ headphones. They stay in my ears and don’t hurt like iPhone buds can after a while.**Note: TJ Maxx & Marshall’s have fantastic deals on brand name work out gear. I highly advise you to peruse their racks before paying full price elsewhere.
- Sunglasses: I have never purchased a pair of sport sunglasses in my life, but I have 4 pairs. One was a hand me down from a friend, and the other 3, well, I have no clue. I always wear them when it’s sunny, as it’s better to rock some random person’s sunglasses then be all squinty-eyed during a run.
- Miscellaneous Goods: Playtex Sports Body Wipes – got a sample of these bad boys in box of tampons (nice, huh?) and LOVE them. They’re like a shower in a packet. I promise you, I typically shower right after I’m done running, but sometimes, a girl runs late (aka always) and if there isn’t a shower near by, these suckers work wonders in a pinch. A watch – I usually have this watch on my wrist while a run in case my phone goes on the fritz. As I mentioned above, MapMyRun does all the work (and then some) of a regular sports watch so I don’t rely on it too much, but its easier to look at then straining to see my arm so I usually just start it when I run and stop it when I’m done. Assorted headbands – no one likes running with hair plastered to their sweaty face. Sunscreen – my pasty Swedish ass always gets burned so I douse myself in it before I head outside.
There you have it, my running essentials! Honestly, you may not even need half of the stuff I just listed. Maybe some good shoes & socks will suffice. However, if you are running 3 or more times a week, it helps to have the gear you need, no matter what the conditions.
If/when I move into full marathon territory, I’m fairly certain this list will change to include more fun and exciting items. So, if/when I ever get to that point, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.
Happy Friday, Friends!