Everyone says that running is the easiest sport to pick up because all you have to do is just throw on a pair of shoes and start running. Well, sort of. There’s a little more to it than just putting one foot in front of the other. There are sports where you can’t play without the gear and then there’s running, which seems like it needs no gear. While you may not need all of it or even some of it, there are definitely a few things you should know before you hit the road. Not sure what you need and don’t need? Here’s a look at the running gear to get so you can get going!
Put Your Best Foot Forward
First of all, yes, throw on a pair of shoes. But if you’re even the least bit serious, be sure to throw on a well-chosen pair of sneaks! Running gear may not be as expensive or as numerous as other sports, but you still benefit from getting the right stuff, and it begins with your shoes. If you have the resources, head out to your local running store. No, not Kohl’s or Walmart or even — in some cases — big box sports stores. A local store specifically for runners is where to start. Here you’ll find knowledgeable sales staff who know how to analyze your gait (how your feet look when you run) and point you in the right direction for a good fit.
There are three types of runners. Neutral runners’ feet tend to land straight down the middle or slightly supinated (rolling toward the outside of your foot). Other runners pronate slightly (rolling toward the inside of your foot). The last type rolls their feet substantially inward. Respectively, these runners will need neutral or cushioned shoes, stability shoes, or motion-control shoes. Once you know your gait, a salesperson can bring out a selection of shoes that fit your description and will allow you to try them on, run a bit in them, and see what’s most comfortable.
Are you in the middle of nowhere? An online running store, like Road Runner Sports, might be your best option. Before you log on, check your feet one of two ways: Get your bare foot wet and step on a piece of paper. If your footprint:
- Shows very little of your mid-foot — You have a high arch. You’re probably a neutral runner.
- Is almost flat — You’ll likely need a motion-control shoe.
- Is somewhere in between — Lean toward a stability shoe.
Another option is to check the wear pattern on your current shoes you wear most now. If they’re worn out primarily on the outermost edge of the heel, go for a neutral, cushioned shoe. Choose stability if they’re worn on the middle to inside of the heel? If they’re incredibly flat on the inside, you need motion control. Once you know that information, it’s all about finding the right fit.
You Run What You Wear
There’s more to the gear than just shoes! While most new runners just throw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and head out the door, you might save yourself a little — cough, cough — chaffing by looking into some wicking-material clothing. One shirt and one pair of shorts won’t cost you too much and will give you an idea of how material impacts your comfort level when you run. Cotton is a big no-no. It doesn’t breathe and will suffocate your poor skin while you’re trying to sweat away your hard work.
That includes your toes! Look for socks that have wicking material or wool so you don’t get blisters. If you’re starting out in the colder months, layer up and still stick with non-cotton, sweat-wicking options. Running tights are also key. Now is not the time to freak about your muffin top or your post-baby thighs. Stay warm and avoid too much skin rubbing together! But the keyword for winter running is layer. Don’t go out in your parka. Wear layers that you can peel off as you warm up.
Be sure to also look for a cheap pair of gloves or mittens and a hat. You lose a ton of heat through your extremities. Cover your digits, and you’ve won half the battle.
More expensive gear is absolutely optional. You might want to invest in a watch with a stop-watch option or timer. This will help you if you choose to follow a run/walk program where you need to pay attention to seconds. More expensive gear, like a GPS watch, isn’t necessary until you’re ready to commit a little more seriously to a running regimen. If you want to track distance or calories, a Fitbit or even an app will help with that. Strava, MapMyRun, and the Nike app are cheap and easy to use. Phones aren’t always as accurate, but when you’re first starting out you don’t need to be precise to the hundredths of a second. If you’re a music person, an armband or running fanny pack will help — it’s less 80s than you think.
There’s one last piece of gear for parents — a stroller! Unless you have a great babysitter or spouse who will support your solo miles, you’ll need a good jogging stroller. You don’t have to break the bank, but you definitely want something beyond your generic umbrella stroller!
Whether you’re all in or looking for the cheapest way to get fit, you can’t go wrong by getting the gear that meets your needs. Do you need the latest smartwatch? Who’s to judge? Do you need to stick to the budget? There are options for you. Just remember that there’s no one way to start moving, but with these tips you know that the right gear is just a few steps away from helping you be the runner you want to be!