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While commitment and motivation are two of the most important things you will need before you start running, a few items will help you run comfortably and achieve your running goals.
To help you get started, we will go over the essentials for runners. In doing so, we will cover everything from basic running clothing to proper running accessories and footwear.
Rather than feel intimidated and confused by all the best running gear you see experienced runners use, start by learning the basics and begin running confidently!
Essentials for Runners
We will review some of the most essential gear you will need to ensure you are ready to get out there and start running. Equipping yourself with the right apparel, footwear, and accessories will prepare you to run comfortably and safely.
Not only can these running essentials ensure you are comfortable and cool while you run, but it can also help you avoid common running-related injuries. Whether you are training for your first race or you just want to start jogging to lose weight and stay fit, we recommend the following essentials for runners of all skills levels:
1. Proper Running Shoes
You may have already guessed that a pair of running shoes would be right at the top of this list, but are you aware of just how important it is to get a well-made pair that is both supportive and fitted to your feet?
A good pair of running shoes is the most important item any runner needs. Since your running shoes will form the barrier between your body and the surface you are running on, they need to absorb these repetitive impacts and protect your joints, tendons, and muscles.
The right running shoes provide cushioning, stability, and support, and even help with motion control and proper running. While it might be tempting to just grab that old pair of sneakers out of the closet and hit the road for a jog, you can put yourself at risk of serious injury if you are wearing improperly fitting shoes that do not offer the correct type of support.
What Type of Running Shoes Should You Buy?
The type of running shoes you need will depend on many factors. Your strike pattern while you run can determine the kind of shock absorption you need from a running shoe, while prior injuries might lead you towards a specialized shoe designed to reduce strain on the injured area of your body.
For example, certain types of running shoes are specifically designed for those that suffer from knee pain. Others reduce strain throughout the bottom of the foot, so they are ideal for those that suffer from plantar fasciitis and other forms of foot pain.
If you feel overwhelmed by choice when choosing the right running shoes, don’t be! Simply assess your needs, including the types of surfaces you plan on running on, how far you plan to run, prior injuries, and any other preferences you might have. Once you have done so, we recommend taking a look at the following beginner-friendly buyer’s guides:
- The Best Trail Running Shoes
- The Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
- The Best Shock Absorbing Running Shoes
- The Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees
- The Best Lightweight Running Shoes
Remember, the best running shoes for someone else might not necessarily be the right ones for you. Consider your body’s unique needs and the type of running you plan on doing, then consult the buyer’s guides above to find a high-quality pair of running shoes that are right for you!
2. A Fitness Tracking Watch with a Heart Rate Monitor
While fitness trackers were once prohibitively expensive and uncomfortably bulky, it is now possible to purchase a highly accurate fitness tracking or running watch at a very reasonable price.
One of the key benefits of wearing a fitness tracker while running is checking your progress over weeks and months. Not only will this help you realize how far you have come on your running journey, but it can also help to keep you motivated.
The latest fitness-tracking watches have many useful features, including heart rate monitors, step counters, distance and speed trackers, and more! Some even connect with music streaming services, so you can easily stream your favorite pump-up music through wireless headphones as you run.
Look for a fitness tracker that supports a mobile smartphone app, as this will allow you to see your stats on a larger screen. This makes it easier to notice patterns and trends and potential areas that need improvement. If, for example, you notice that you always slow down around the 10-minute mark during your runs, you may want to plan a new running route where you are running on flat ground at that point rather than uphill. This would help you push past the pain barrier and extend the length of your runs.
What Type of Fitness Tracker Should You Buy?
As mentioned, we recommend looking for a fitness tracker with a built-in heart rate monitor, as it is one of the most valuable features for tracking progress. Many of these will also estimate the total number of calories you have burned on a run, which can be helpful for those looking to count calories for weight-loss or weight-gain purposes.
To make things easier, we have compiled a list of The Best Fitness Trackers for Running. These fitness trackers will help you monitor your health, track your progress, and achieve your running goals!
3. Running Shorts
While you may assume that you can throw on any old pair of shorts and head out for a run, it is a good idea to invest in at least one good pair of running shorts. A good pair of running shorts will be lightweight and breathable to remain comfortable throughout your run.
More importantly, running shorts are designed in a way that they will not chafe your skin as you run. They also help to wick moisture away from your body, which also helps prevent chafing and irritation you might otherwise experience with a non-specialized pair of athletic shorts.
The best pairs of running shorts are also made from antibacterial fabrics that help fight unpleasant odors. If you plan on running or jogging at night, we recommend looking for a pair that features reflective details, as this will help cars see you well in advance.
If you plan on jogging with a smartphone, set of house keys, bank cards, or even just a bit of cash, look for a pair with discreet, zippered pockets that will hold your belongings tight against your body. This will keep your items in place and prevent them from disrupting your stride.
What Type of Running Shorts Should You Buy?
While basic athletic shorts might be okay at the gym or even for a light jog or power walk, we recommend picking up a pair of dedicated running shorts if you plan on getting into running in any serious capacity.
The style and color you choose will depend on your personal preferences; however, we recommend looking at our informative buyer’s guide if you want suggestions. Not only have we highlighted some of the top pairs of running shorts on the market today, but we also covered running shorts for both men and women – The Best Running Shorts for Men and Women.
4. Running Shirts
While they are less important than a good pair of running shoes, a few lightweight, moisture-wicking running shirts will help keep you comfortable as you run and train.
The best running apparel tends to have a loose fit but is lightweight enough not to create drag while reaching your top speeds. Look for running shirts that help draw moisture away from the surface of your body, as this will help you keep cool while you are running in hot temperatures and keep you dry and warm if you decide to go for a cold weather run.
The moisture-wicking qualities will also help with odor control, which is a nice feature if you push yourself and build up a good sweat. Finally, the best running shirts use durable materials, so they will not wear out in the arms as you run, which can be the case with lower-quality materials.
What Type of Running Shirts Should You Buy?
As with running shorts, there are countless running shirts out there for you to choose from. You can select long-sleeve running shirts, T-shirt-style running shirts, and even compression shirts designed for running. The main thing is choosing a high-quality brand that offers running shirts that perform as advertised.
To make things easier for you, we have highlighted and reviewed some of the best options out there – The Best Shirts for Running Reviewed.
5. Running Socks
Not only will you need a good pair of running shoes, but you will also need to pick up a few pairs of high-quality running socks. What you wear inside your running shoes is almost as important as the running shoes themselves.
The best running sock helps keep your feet dry, no matter how sweaty they get. They are made from moisture-wicking fabric blends, which help to pull moisture away from the surface of your skin. While this certainly helps with comfort and odor control, the main advantage of wearing moisture-wicking running socks is that they can help reduce the occurrence and severity of running-related blisters.
Not only are these synthetic blends helpful for keeping your feet dry while you run, but they are also extremely durable, so they will not wear out after a few running sessions, which is often the case with a lower-quality cotton sock.
Running socks also have added cushioning in high-impact areas, like the balls of the feet and the heels. This is incredibly helpful for those that suffer from pain in their feet and ankles during and after runs.
If you plan on running during the colder winter months, you can also pick up a pair of merino wool running socks, designed to keep your feet warm and dry. Some higher-cut running socks also offer compression through the ankles, which can be helpful if you have concerns about ankle pain and injuries.
What Type of Running Socks Should You Buy?
To help you find the perfect running socks, we have highlighted and reviewed what we believe to be some of the best options currently on the market – The 10 Best Running Socks.
Other Essentials for Runners
While the items outlined above are undoubtedly the essentials for any runner, the following items are also worth consideration:
- Sunscreen – Protecting your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays is critical, even when out running. Unfortunately, many runners ignore the sun’s rays’ dangers and deal with the consequences much later in life.
Look for a quick-dry sunscreen that has an SPF rating of at least 15. You will also want to opt for a water-repellant “sports sunscreen,” as these offer greater sun protection as you are sweating.
- Hydration Pack – Hydration is incredibly important when you are running. Not only will it keep you refreshed and help you continue running for longer, but proper hydration can also help to prevent cramps and muscle pain during and after your run.
A hydration pack is a specialized belt designed to hold multiple water bottles around your waist. The small bottles are evenly distributed so your stride is not disturbed, and you always have convenient access to water, even running at full speed.
- Running Sunglasses – Again, sun protection is critical while running, especially during the summer months. A good pair of running sunglasses will grip your head so that they will not fall off while you are running.
They will also protect your eyes from harmful radiation while also offering a degree of wind protection, so you can keep running even on the windiest days.