One of the most important components of running is your running gear. From running shoes to moisture-wicking socks to the watch on your wrist and the running audio, running gear is almost as important as training. This is all the information you need to start running.
Basics of Running Gear
When I first started running I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I just ran in the shoes I had in the clothes I had. For me was a pair of Asics that I bought at Famous Footwear and an old 100% cotton t-shirt. What I found through experience is that there actually is proper running gear. It will help make your life and training a whole lot easier.
Running as a sport is one of the least expensive to get into. There’s not a lot of equipment to buy. But there are some investments that will make your running experience much better. In this guide, you’ll learn where to get the biggest bang for your buck, spending money where you need to and not where you don’t.
When you start running you’ll need quality running shoes that are the right fit for your feet. The wrong shoe is one that doesn’t fit your foot properly. If you have wide flat feet, a narrow shoe is not a good fit. Running in the wrong shoe is one of the most common causes of running injuries.
When shopping for running shoes, don’t pick a pair just because they look cool, or because they were in the bargain bin. The most expensive shoe isn’t necessarily the best shoe either. The biggest investment for runners is a quality pair of shoes that fit your foot properly, suit your running style and meet your cushioning needs. This will help prevent injuries and make training runs more comfortable.
Types of Running Shoes
Road Running Shoes
Trail Running Shoes
Runners who love to run in the mountains, trails, backroads, etc. need a good pair of trail running shoes.
The two main things to consider when buying trail running shoes are the terrain and the right fit.
Terrain can range from dirt to rock, firm footing or loose, steep or flat. The other major factor is whether you plan to run in or through bodies of water, like streams or rivers. If this is the case, then you’ll need a waterproof trail shoe.
Much like road running shoes, the right trail shoe is based on your unique foot and body composition. Trail shoes can be stable and supportive, or minimal with light cushion, and everything in between. The outsole (the bottom of the trail shoe) is typically made of solid rubber with lugs (cleats) for improved traction on technical trails.
Rigid shoes that have large, deep lugs (cleats) are suitable for more technical trails where there could be loose rock. Due to rigid construction, these types of shoes are uncomfortable on road runs. They will serve you better on more rugged trail terrain or on hikes.
Hybrid trail shoes have smaller lugs (cleats) and a softer on-road feel. They are well-suited for soft dirt singletrack trails or wooded trails with stable solid footing.
How are trail running shoes different from road running shoes?
Trail shoes are designed with a softer, stickier rubber for the outsole with wide, deep lugs to provide traction on softer surfaces. Road shoes have a blown rubber outsole to stand up to the abrasion of pavement but lack the lugs for traction.
|Trail Running Shoes||Road Running Shoes|
|Offer more stability||Provide better cushioning|
|Provide better traction||Lightweight|
|Protection from water, dirt, and rocks||More breathable|
Socks have a way of making or breaking your running experience. If you wear good socks, you’ll enjoy your run. If you wear a bad sock it could lead to chafing, blisters, and a crappy day.
Varieties of Running Socks
There are many different kinds of running socks available. They vary in the following ways.
- Compression level
With so many options, it can be overwhelming. But if you understand that your perfect sock is out there, the quest will be that much more exciting.
Running socks technology has come a long way. Socks today have ventilation, arch support, compression, and even cushioning. The best running socks for you are the ones that make it a good experience. Much like the other running gear, it’s a matter of trial and error. Find a good pair of moisture-wicking socks and go from there.
After running shoes, your clothes are the next most important items in your running gear. Clothing changes based on weather conditions, seasons, climate, terrain, and time of day. The running clothes worn in Florida in the summer are vastly different than the clothes worn in Minnesota in the winter. This is a general guideline of the basic clothing items needed to run wherever you are.
The perfect running shirt is the one you feel most comfortable wearing. Shirts should breathe, move sweat away from your body, and keep you dry. The best running shirt fabrics include polyesters, moisture-wicking clothing, spandex, and others. First-time runners, get a couple of different styles, brands, colors, materials, etc. to find what you feel comfortable in. For warm weather, short-sleeved, sleeveless, tank-tops will do the trick. When running in colder temperatures, look for breathable, wicking, long-sleeved running shirts to keep you warm and dry.
Running Shorts and Pants
Shorts come in all cuts, lengths, and varieties.
Other Running Gear
Long pants are another important component in your running gear.
Female runners should wear a quality, supportive sports bra designed especially for running or other high-impact activities. The best way to know which bra is the best is to try it on and run in place and jump up and down. The proper fit is comfortable and supportive.
Hats in many shapes and sizes.
The proper gear for running falls into two general categories; Cold-Weather Gear and Warm-Weather Running Gear.
Cold-Weather Running Gear
Running in the cold is inevitable if you’re training for a spring marathon and you live in an area with seasons. Training will require that you run outside in the cold weather. Here are some things you’ll need to ensure you complete your training runs and stay warm while doing it.
Some runners don’t wear underwear when running, others do. Ultimately, it’s your personal preference after some trial and error. Here are some things to consider when making your decision.
Running underwear is the true first layer of running clothing. The best options are made with breathable fabrics that wick away sweat and keep your private areas dry and comfortable. They also help in the fight against painful chafing.
Do you need to wear underwear if you are wearing a base layer?
My recommendation is yes, for hygiene and sanitary reasons.
You sweat when you run. Baselayer clothes are designed to 1. take moisture away from the body and 2. retain heat. These two factors are key to bacterial growth. Moist, warm, and dark places are where bacteria grow. Without underwear, the likelihood of bacteria growth in your base layer is high. So, I highly recommended wearing underwear with your thermal clothing base layer. While baselayers are washable, we tend to wash them less than underwear and forget about the ugly bacteria that may be growing.
The next level of cold weather running is the base layer.
A base layer is a layer of clothing that is closest to your skin. It is sometimes referred to as “second skin.” Base layers provide warmth while absorbing and wicking away sweat to keep you dry and comfortable.
Base layers come in a wide variety of styles and multiple fabrics that are best suited for cold weather running.
For running in the cold, your outer layer is important. Outerwear consists of everything on the outside layer, coat or jacket, hat, and gloves. If you are running in sleet, snow, or rain, make sure your outer layer is waterproof, so look for GoreTex. Nylon and polyester are considered waterproof, but a heavy GoreTex jacket will help to keep you dry in cold winter weather.
Warm-Weather Running Gear
Training for a fall marathon means you’ll be running through the summer months. Running in warm and hot weather has its own set of challenges. Summer running means running in the hot sun, for some it also means the spawn of Satan, humidity. These cause runners to sweat even more. To give you the best chance of success, here are some helpful tips about running clothes for hot weather.
Running clothes to beat the heat
Training in hot weather means overcoming the heat of the sun, excessive sweat, and hydration.
Moisture-wicking and breathable clothes
Wick sweat away from your body with moisture-wicking shirts, shorts, socks, and hats. This keeps you dry and cool.
Look for clothing that is:
- Odor control
This includes polyesters, spandex, nylon, and other natural and synthetic materials. First-time runner? Buy a few different brands and styles to find what you feel comfortable in. Try tanks, sleeveless, and sleeved shirts to find what you like best.
Gear to protect yourself from the sun
The sun makes you sweat, but the UV rays are harmful to both exposed and unexposed skin. This means you could get sunburns through your clothing. Not to worry. Many running clothes brands now have an SPF component to protect your skin from UV rays.
Other ways to protect your skin from UV rays:
- Wear sport sunscreen on exposed areas
- Hat with a brim to protect your face
- Sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare
Hydration is also vitally important when running in the heat. Replacing fluids throughout your run is just as important as before and after. There are a number of great options to stay hydrated while running.
- Handheld water bottle
- Hydration backpack
- Fanny hydration pack
Technology is a big component of marathon training and running. Running tech allows you to track your heart rate, distance, pace, split times, all while listening to a Freakonomics podcast, “Awaken the Giant Within” on Audible or The Beatles White Album.
Running Audio Gear
Audio has come a long way since I began running. I used a portable CD player on my first 10-mile run. Now there are entire music libraries and audiobooks, podcasts, satellite radio, and much more at our disposal. The question is what kind of headphones or earbuds are best for your training runs.
Things to look for in headphones and earbuds:
Bluetooth capability. Connection to your watch or phone while running is crucial. Bluetooth is how devices are paired. Look for Bluetooth connections in headphones and earbuds.
Waterproof. When you run, you sweat. Sweat can destroy earbuds and headphones if they are not waterproof. When shopping, try to find waterproof options so that you get some longevity out of your running audio gear.
Long battery life. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a long run and the batteries in your headphones or earbuds die. Make sure you find audio with long battery life so that you never run into that problem.
Shockproof. Running is a very jarring exercise. Each step you hit the pavement sends small shockwaves throughout your body. Your earbuds pick up on that shock and can either skip or stop working altogether. Find audio equipment that will absorb shock so that you have a continuous listening experience.
The perfect pair of earbuds are reliable throughout your run. Which means they have a strong connection to your device and long battery life. They are comfortable while running. And they won’t quit when you sweat like a banshee.
When shopping for the perfect pair of running earbuds, keep the following criteria in mind.
Fit. Earbuds have to be comfortable in your ear. Only buy ones that fit well, are snug, and are stable in your ear. You’re looking for an earbud to create a seal with your ear canals. If you have odd-shaped ear canals, you may consider an over-the-ear hook design to ensure they stay in place.
Waterproof or water-resistant. Training runs will create a lot of sweat. You need earbuds that are up to the challenge. You need earbuds that will last multiple training runs and still keep going.
There’s a rating system for the “waterproofness” of earbuds and headphones known as ingress protection or IP. This basically tells you how much water your earbuds can handle. Without getting too far in the weeds about IP, A rating of IPX4 seems to be the gold standard for running earbuds, but even IPX2 is still pretty good.
App connection. Most earbuds are equipped with a complimentary companion app. This facilitates the most basic requirement for any wireless device, namely software updates. Other headphone app features may include customizable controls, like ambient passthrough toggles, equalizers, and so on.
Wireless running headphones should be first and foremost reliable. This means they have long battery life and a strong Bluetooth connection to your watch or phone. They must be comfortable while running. Lastly, they have to be water-resistant or waterproof.
Here are some things to know when buying running headphones.
Fit and Comfort. Headphones have to be a stable fit. They should stay in place while running and be comfortable on your ear. Only buy ones that fit well, are snug, and are stable on your ear.
Waterproof or water-resistant. Running creates a lot of sweat. You need headphones that are up to the challenge. You need headphones that will last several training runs and still keep going.
There’s a rating system for the “waterproofness” of earbuds and headphones known as IP or “ingress protection.” Essentially, this is how much moisture your headphones can take. A rating of IPX4 seems to be the gold standard for running headphones.
App connection. Many headphones today come with a free app. This helps when it comes to software updates. Other headphone app features include things like customizable controls, equalizer, and so on.
Cold weather running starts with your base layer, or underwear.
Running Watch Gear
Cold weather running starts with your base layer, or underwear.