If you’re new to running, you may be a bit overwhelmed by all the gear and lingo that gets thrown around by the more experienced runners. That’s ok! Running, just like any new skill, takes time to make progress, but also requires some gear so you can be comfortable as you start logging some miles. You may wonder if you really need everything that experienced runners talk about, or if it’s fine to start out with a few basics. We’ll help you understand what you truly need when you’re just getting started and what you may want to add as you tackle more miles.
One of the many great things about running is that it is one of the cheapest sports or exercises you can do. There is very little investment in equipment and gear and it can be done anywhere. Vacation? Lace up those shoes! Work Trip? Explore the downtown area! 10 extra minutes before the kids need to be picked up? You guessed it, get a run in! The more serious you become about running and the longer your running distances become, the more gear you will need. For instance, marathon runners will likely want to invest in a hydration pack or fuel belt, along with gels and sports drinks. If you are brand new to the sport or stick to shorter distances, however, there is very little you will need to get started.
First, let’s talk about the necessary items. All you really need is a pair of good running sneakers—something comfortable to wear while you run—and, for us women, a good sports bra is very important. Seriously, that’s it. Everything else is easy like Sunday morning.
Shoes: All you really need to get going is a good pair of shoes. They don’t have to be expensive, and they don’t have to have all kinds of features, or flames on the sides (however, that would be cool), but don’t underestimate the importance of a decent running shoe. The best thing to do is go to a specialty running store and have an employee fit you for a proper pair of shoes. To do this, they will watch you run and ask you about your running and injury history (if any) and find the pair of shoes that are best for you. Expect to pay around $100 for a pair of running shoes. It may sound like a lot of money, but remember that this is the only equipment you need and definitely the most important! Having a good pair of running shoes can be essential to your running success, and happiness. Take care of those feet, which will then help care for your knees, your back and so on.
Clothes: As Kaia athletes we often say there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. This statement is never more true than with running. Don’t cross off running from your list because it is hot or cold, simply dress for the weather. Running will be more comfortable for you when you wear a shirt or tank top made of wicking fabric, a comfortable pair of shorts, capris, or tights, a good pair of wicking socks (NOT cotton), and for the women, a supportive and comfortable sports bra. Try selecting clothes that don’t ride up or chafe when you run. When dressing for a run, dress as if it is 15 degrees warmer outside. Your body will warm up quickly once you get moving, and you want to be comfortable rather than too hot.
Watch: One piece of gear that many runners like to use is a watch. If you’re just starting out, there is no need to invest in a GPS watch or heart rate monitor or anything fancy. At the beginning, you’ll only need the watch to keep track of how long you’re running, not how fast. Your emphasis as a new runner should be on the effort and time of your outings, not your speed. If you really want to know how long you are gone for, or want to time laps on a track, a basic $10 digital watch will suffice. If you have a smart phone and want to know the distance of your runs, there are dozens of apps that use GPS technology that you can use while you are running. There are also dozens of activity trackers, calorie counters, and music apps that many runners like to use because they can be motivating to get out the door
Sports Bra: Wait, wasn’t a sports bra already mentioned under the “clothes” section? Yes! And it begs repeating! Even if your lady friends are smallish, a good sports bra can make or break a running routine, trust us. Our breasts and gravity can pose a real challenge, the stakes get higher when you exercise. With each running stride, breasts move not only up and down but also side to side and in and out, tracing a butterfly pattern, or a swarm of angry bees if they aren’t held in place. Unsupported, the average A cup travels about an inch and a half in each direction, and a D cup bounces two to three inches. Do we have your attention yet? Let’s talk about how to choose the perfect sports bra. Sports bra support comes from three points on a sports bra: the straps, the cups, and the band, including the side panels. This three-step dressing room experiment is a great test for how to choose the perfect sports bra:
Straps: Hold the top of one strap and the center of the corresponding cup, then pull. Whether they’re adjustable or not, the less stretchy the front straps, the more motion control they’ll provide.
Cups: Repeat a similar stretch test by tugging the top and bottom of each cup; the less give, the more motion control. Then put on the bra. Whether it’s a compression or an encapsulation style, the cup should hold the whole breast—no spillage. If it doesn’t, choose the next larger cup size.
Band and side panels: Slide a finger under the band between your breasts; you should not be able to pull it more than an inch from your chest. (For an adjustable band style, set the clasp on the first eyelet; if you have to use the last eyelet to get a snug fit, you’re better off with a smaller band.) Next, reach your arms overhead; if the band creeps up, it’s too big. In both cases, pick a smaller size
Positive Mental Attitude: While maintaining a positive mental attitude is technically not a piece of gear, we strongly believe it should be something you pack along with you on every run. Whether you are new to running, or gunning for a personal best, or even just recovering from injury, the powers of positive thought should never be underestimated. Running can be double-edged sword. The great thing with running is you will have lots of time, alone with your thoughts…the bad thing also is, you will have lots of time, alone with your thoughts. There will be times before, during or after a run you might need to give yourself a little pep-talk, or use positive self-talk or affirmations. This involves replacing any negative statements with positive ones. For example you could try a simple one like, “I can’t do this” and change it into ‘I can do this’, ‘You got this!’. You can also develop a positive mantra that you repeat to yourself throughout a race or training run. Try writing a positive statement on the inside of your wrist, or on a small piece of paper so that you can look at it during a race or training run and focus on it mentally or even say it out loud if that helps.
We know that exercise is medicine, therefore running should be the number one choice (or at least 2 or 3) to keep people healthy and happy. Numerous studies have shown that running can prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, to name a few. Just hearing that we can ward off a few health issues has us wanting to lace up our running shoes and stomp some pavement. Another enticing fact is that running has been shown to benefit mental health, sleep quality and concentration. Whenever you hear someone comment about the ‘runners high’ they are referring to the rush of ‘feel good’ hormones that get released after a run. They are powerful enough to instantly elevate someone from depression and keep your mood uplifted for hours following a run. So what are you waiting for? Get out there, get those miles and all those smiles!