Whether you are just getting started or are an accomplished runner, you can spend little or loads on gear. This article is aimed at people just starting with running, but of course relevant for anyone who is interested. When I first joined Rachel’s Runners last year, I ran my first 6 weeks or so in ordinary old tracksuit pants and t-shirts, with a good sports bra and shoes. This was totally fine, and you can last a really long time like this (with a move to shorter pants for summer of course), but for me once I realised running was something I wanted to stick with then I was also happy to invest in a bit of gear.
There are a couple of essentials that you need to get started. An usual approach, but perhaps for running we start at the bottom. Good shoes are essential. If you are planning on covering any sort of distance, I would suggest you get your shoes properly fitted. So much of this is down to personal preference, and you can do this at a sports store or head to somewhere like Southside Runners, who offer a more personalised fitting service. Many of Rachel’s Runners highly recommend a service like this.
Socks are another great divide for runners. Again for me I don’t run great distances and do alot of cross training, so for me ordinary sports socks suit me just fine, and would be great for any beginner. Having said that when my husband kindly bought me a heap of new socks, I did notice a difference in comfort between those and my old threadbare ones, so promptly threw out the old ones. But there are socks and socks and socks available, compression socks, toe socks, google brought up over 35 million records when I typed in running socks so I say start simple and work your way along you running journey. Check out the recent blog on running socks for more info.
So the next thing you need as you work your way up is clothes. Runners come in all shapes and sizes, so I have enlisted the help of a few friends to write this story. I am putting myself in the large category, and maybe what I am about to write might help some of my friends in this category too. I would be around a size 18- 20, so one of the concerns I had was finding gear to fit me that was not horrible, unfashionable or uncomfortable. I have the added benefit of being tall too, so things that are too short are an issue for me, especially when working out.
Brands like TS14+ and their sister store Virtu stock a great active wear range. It’s fashionable and super comfy and has washed and worn extremely well. It’s not the cheapest you will find, but they regularly offer 25% off deals etc so if you are in this market keep any eye out for these sales. Unlike some of my RR diva mates (trackies aside) I own exactly three pairs of tights and three running singlets, plus a long sleever for cold weather. But I get by and would rather spend my $$ on quality gear and buy more when I need it. Chain stores like Big W and Target also sell exercise clothes, and at a cheaper cost, but I would prefer to stick with what I love.
Underneath all this gear you will need a sports bra – regardless of your size. Again these come in a wide variety of costs and brands. For me this one is all about fit through. Not unlike shoes make sure you have yourself fitted and get one in the right size. You don’t have to spend a fortune, one of my favourite sports bras is a cheapie from target, and I also paid loads for one at a running expo which was probably treble the price but I love too. They are both comfortable and seem to do the job.
Lastly there is your head. Headwear can divide runners too, with caps, visors and headbands just a few options you have. The number one thing for me is to keep my crazy hair off my face, and for that I love the visor. I have a few and they are my favourite running accessory.
I agree with Alex – the single most important piece of running equipment is CORRECTLY fitted shoes. I know for sure that many injuries can be prevented if you get the right shoes from the start. When I first started running I picked the prettiest, brightest coloured shoes I could find. I did not know that they were cross trainers, not running shoes, nor did I care. I just liked the lovely blue colour. Now, don’t get me wrong, they were 100 times better than the 10 year old netball shoes I had dragged out of the cupboard, but they were not the correct fit for MY feet. There are so many things to consider when getting new running shoes so my top tips here are: 1. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you’re injured, get them at the start of your running journey; and 2. Get yourself correctly fitted by a specialist running shop like Southside Runners in Cronulla who will video you on the treadmill and give you expert advice on what shoes are right for your feet and how they move.
A bit more on feet – socks are almost as important as shoes. Compression, sweat wicking type socks are best. I currently wear Compressport and I’ve not had a single problem since I switched. No blisters, no slipping, no rubbing. Their knee length type were just as good when I ran in them in the Great Ocean Road Marathon and with the added bonus of compression calf support.
I will follow Alex’s lead and now head into what I find the best clothing to run in. I am a size 8 or XS/S in most women’s (Australian) sizes. In Summer, I prefer to run in shorts. Things to consider here are to make sure they don’t ‘ride up’ or cause chafing. My two favourite types of shorts to run in are Nike and Asana (a lesser know brand found in Amart/Rebel Sport stores). Both of these brands are a slightly longer length and I’ve had no trouble with either. In Winter I prefer full length compression tights as I find any full length tights that are not compression tend to fall down. My current favourite brand is Body Science. They also have a drawstring for extra help in the ‘keep them up’ department.
While we are on the season of Winter, there are a couple of other essentials here…running gloves to stop your hands falling off during freezing morning runs and a light weight wind and water proof jacket. Invest in good quality as they are definitely worth the money to keep you warm and dry!
As for tops I prefer tanks in Summer and a tank covered by a long sleeve top in Winter. I always make sure it’s sweat wicking polyester and never cotton. The fabric definitely makes a big difference to whether the top sticks to you or not. I also like tops that are fitted, not loose. I don’t mean skin tight, but tops that are more streamlined to the body as they seem to eliminate chaffing under the arms. Also on the top half – bras. As I have pretty much nothing to hold up anymore, I prefer crop tops to avoid any horrible wires digging in. I can pretty much wear any brand without a problem, but my Skins one is a favourite.
Finally, on my head I mainly wear visors. They stop sweat dripping into my eyes, keep my fly away hair out of my face, keep my head cool and of course keep the sun off my face. I do not like wearing caps as I always find my head gets far too hot and sweaty. Sometimes I run at night and at this time I wear a head band. Headbands are not my favourite type of hair/sweat controlling head apparatus as they tend to slip around and off my big head, but in the dark I feel a visor restricts my vision.
We hope this helps you sort out what you need for running – we at the RR blog always love to hear about new things and feedback on the information we provide, so get sharing runners x