When I first started running I did so with very little gear. That’s the beauty of running for exercise. There is almost no cost to start! As you get more serious about running, increasing your pace and distance it soon becomes apparent that investing in a few key items will make your fitness journey much easier and far more enjoyable. In this month’s running tips post, I wanted to share my Top 5 items. These are items I always have with me when I go running. Some of them are dependant on weather and time of day. I consider all of these items essential to have on hand if you plan on logging a lot of time on the road.
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Running Tips – The Top 5 Items in my Running Bag
Running Tips Item 1 – High-Quality Running Shoes
The importance of high-quality running shoes cannot be stressed enough! I started out running in my tennis shoes. I never saw the point in spending money on running shoes when I had a perfectly good pair of shoes on hand. This was a huge mistake. Tennis shoes worked fine in the early stages of my running – when I was running for only a couple minutes at a time. Once I started increasing my running time and distance I started to run into problems.
In fact, I almost quit running. My hips hurt, my shins hurt, my knees hurt. I started to think running just wasn’t for me. And then my husband stopped at an Under Armor Outlet store on the way back from an out of town job and picked me up a pair of real deal running shoes.
I ran in my new Charge Bandit 2’s one time and threw my tennis shoes away. I will never buy another pair of tennis shoes again. Even to walk in. If you ignore every other piece of equipment on this running tips list – don’t ignore this one.
Do you have a Favorite Brand?
So far I have only liked Under Armor. I love my Charge Bandits so much that I doubt I will be trying any others in the near future. (Unless there’s a brand out there who feels like they can beat them – feel free to send me a pair for testing if you think you can!). That said, my current shoes already have a couple hundred miles on them and ideally, need to be replaced soon. My husband is ordering a pair of Under Armor’s HOVR Sonic shoes to try out and I am eager to see how he likes them. The Bluetooth connectivity would be neat to have and would likely help me increase my running performance but only if they are as comfortable as my current shoes.
Running Tips Item 2 – High-Quality Athletic Socks
There is a bit of a trend here isn’t there? But when you’re a runner your feet need extra love. A combination of high-quality shoes and socks will prevent all sorts of discomfort while running. We have all had blisters in our lives and there is nothing worse than developing one 3 miles into a long run. It’s also no fun to run with sweaty stinky feet. Good socks are an absolute must and I refuse to run without them.
What should I look for?
After testing out various brands and types of socks we have found a preference for Darn Tough socks. Darn Tough socks are merino wool and nylon blend which helps keep your feet dry. They also have a seamless toe line to increase comfort. One of my chief complaints with cheaper socks was the toe seam, no matter what I did the socks liked to shift mid-run and I would find myself running on a seam. This isn’t much of a problem while walking but running five miles with a lump on your toe is a real pain. Literally.
The type of running socks you choose is really a matter of preference. Some people prefer compression socks, others swear that toe socks help prevent blisters. If one style doesn’t work for you try another. Thankfully even the most expensive pair of socks is still fairly low in the gear department when it comes to prices.
In general, you should stay away from cotton and look for seamless athletic socks. Shy away from thin looking socks, not only will they wear out long before you get your worth out of them but the material is generally on the cheaper side and I have found them to cause more hotspots.
Running Tips Item 3 – Bright and Reflective Gear
This is a safety-related item. It is not always necessary to wear reflective gear. If you are running in the middle of the day and it’s nice and bright out then it’s unlikely you have to worry. However, most runners change their run times based on work schedules and daily temperatures. This means runners are often out on the roads in the early mornings and late evenings. People are leaving for work or coming home and in the twilight hours or a foggy morning its a recipe for disaster.
Sticking to bright or reflective based running gear will help cars see you during difficult light conditions. Many running shirts and leggings have reflective components to them.
What if I don’t like reflective gear?
Sports companies have come a long way in making reflective gear more comfortable and fashion forward but I get it, sometimes it can be hard to find a material and style you like. Thankfully there are other options. Consider adding a strip of reflective tape to the back of your shirt or investing in some light bands. There are may LED options available that will attach to wrists, ankles, arms, and waists. Finding a safety option that works with your personal preference shouldn’t be too difficult and is well worth the effort.
Running Tips Item 4 – Proper Running Clothes
When you first start out running you can throw on your yoga pants and a tank top with no problem. But then maybe you run a bit farther than normal, sweat a bit more and come back with some chaffing. Chaffing is evil. You don’t want to deal with it!
Investing in some clothing designed specifically for running is worth the money. Look for moisture-wicking soft materials for comfort. There are many options available from very loose to tighter fits. I tend to prefer the tighter fits as I like the feeling of support they give me and loose clothing tends to rub more but many people swear the opposite. It might take some experimenting for you to find what works.
What Else should I consider?
If you have long hair you might want to look into a headband or hat. At the very least a hair tie will make sure you’re not eating your hair on windy days. I prefer headbands because they not only keep my hair out of my face but keep sweat out of my eyes as well. If you are sensitive to bright lights then sunglasses would also be a good idea. Look for snug fitting glasses that are not prone to bouncing or falling off.
If your a female then a supportive sports bra is also a must-have. Most of the sports bras I find in stores are rated for light to moderate impact. For running, a medium or high impact sports bra is best. My favorite is … wait for it… an Under Armor sports bra called the Crossback Clutch. Its made with quick drying, moisture wicking material and has a wide band. Worn without a shirt it looks like a midriff top and I bought it specifically for summer running when temperatures around here can reach 120. Even better it sports a nifty pocket capable of holding my inhaler, keys or cards. Pockets in athletic gear are a premium.
Running Tips Item 5 – Trekz Air Bone Conduction Headphones
I never used to run with music. I had too many close calls with cars and dogs to chance earbuds or headphones that would lower my ability to know what was happening around me. Since buying these headphones, however, this is no longer a problem. I really can’t stress enough how much I love them. I love them so much I even did an entire review post about them which you can read here – Aftershockz Review – A Safe Running Solution
I consider this item both a comfort and a safety item. Running with music makes my runs more enjoyable. I even perform better for some reason! I think it has something to do with the beat of the music. But, I used to feel it was too unsafe so I went without. Trekz Air keeps my bopping along in safety.