» Get Your Gear

Get Your Gear

A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop.
– Robert Hughes

No matter what sport you enjoy, you can invest a lot of money in gear. Running is one sport that may require the least gear, but you can still spend a lot of money. In this section, let’s review the gear that you really need – and the gear you can easily live without. The gear in this section is listed in order of priority. You can stop any point in the list.

1. Sneakers

Sneakers are the most important investment you will make in running. As a beginning runner, plan to invest in “running” sneakers. If you simply pull those old basketball sneakers (or were they tennis sneakers?) out of your closet you may regret it. Buy a good pair of sneakers as part of your commitment to running.

You can get your sneakers at a specialized running shop, a sporting goods store, online, or at a discount shoe seller. A local running shop is great, since the sales person may be able to give you solid advise for picking out your first sneakers.

I personally like to go to Dick’s Sporting Goods, since it is a large chain that is local. They do not have as much expert advice, but they have their running shoes set apart in their own section. They subdivide them by calling out special features that you may need.

There are also on-line options. Stores like Zappos have specialized in on-line shoe sales. They have custom searches that allow you to specialize in running shoes and to narrow your search by type and brand. But buying on-line does not give you the satisfaction of walking around in several different sizes and models before you walk out of the store.

A discount shoe seller, may also be a good option for you. There, you may have to look harder for which sneakers are for running. You may not find any information about special features that you may need, depending on your running style and how you place your foot.

Wherever you choose to buy your sneakers, plan to spend anywhere between $50 and $150. The low end usually depends on finding a good sale, which can knock of $30 or more.

In selecting running sneakers, you will be confronted by a number of options:

  • Neutral — Most people can simply buy generic running shoes, those either marked as neutral or without any indication of special features. If you don’t have any foot problems, these should be just fine.
  • Stability — If the soles of your sneakers wear out unevenly, it means you should probably buy sneakers marked for stability. These help correct for a problem called overpronation.
  • Extra Cushioning — If your feet get sore easily, look for neutral sneakers that contain extra cushioning. These will help you to build leg strength without as much foot pain.
  • Minimalist or Lightweight — People buy lightweight or minimalist sneakers if they want the feeling of running barefoot. It takes time to build up your foot strength for this, and I don’t recommend it for beginners.
  • Trail — If you will be running outdoors on trails or in snowy weather, consider trail sneakers. They are designed to optimize your feet for tough terrains.

2. Identification

If you are running outdoors, you should always carry some form of identification. If you become injured and unconscious, you will want some way for responders to know who you are. Some people buy ID bracelets. Some carry a special ID card. I have even met some who have simply written their phone number on their sneakers. I am cheap, so I just carry my drivers license in a pocket. Whichever route you take, make sure you can be identified by others when you run.

3. Sport Watch

A watch designed for running is an important part of your training. It will allow you to determine your pace, especially for different drills. You don’t need a super expensive watch with all sorts of features. At a minimum, make sure your watch has a stop watch and can time intervals. You can pick up a good sport watch at most large discount stores.

4. Moisture-Wicking Clothing

You can run in just about anything, but most people will agree that it is much nicer to run in moisture-wicking clothing. This removes sweat from your body and keeps you from feeling bound up in your clothes. If you do not care about brand names, you can buy moisture-wicking clothing at many large discount retailers. Brand names can cost you from $50 to $100 on a single article of clothing! Some discount retailers have small sections of clothing marked as running clothes, which can make it a lot easier for you to find the right clothing.

5. Reflective Gear

If you run in the early morning or in the evening, when there is very little light, you should buy reflective gear to make sure you can be seen by motorists. I like to wear a reflective vest over my clothing and a flashing red light that I clip to my clothing. Safety is important, and this gear can add to your safety; however, no reflective gear is fool proof – assume that motorists cannot see you and never assume you have the right of way.

Closing Thoughts

If you are just starting out, don’t invest a lot of money in GPS watches, hydration belts, and expensive name-brand clothes. As you get more experience and learn more about yourself and your running style, you may begin to add these to your gear, but for now, stick with the basics.

If you have your running sneakers and any additional gear you may want, let’s move on to picking the right times to run.