Pretty much all of my friends and most of my coworkers know that I run on a regular basis and partake in organized race events, and a few have even asked me what “gear” I use. I really don’t use anything special—no fancy heart rate monitors or crazy expensive running shoes. I prefer to carry at little as possible on me when I do run, as I’m sure most runners do. I don’t even carry my phone on me. That is unless I’m going somewhere like Castlewood where I could potentially injure myself enough to have to make a phone call. The main two items (other than my clothing and shoes) I run with is a water bottle and an iPod Nano That’s about it. I’m a no-frills kind of person.
Everyone has different preferences on what to wear and take with them when they run, so exploring those options yourself is definitely recommended—especially with shoes! The items below just happen to be what I use.
1. Fitted Running Shoes: I feel like this is a no brainer, but not everyone may think or feel so. Go get fitted for proper running shoes. No, not from a big box store like Sports Authority or Dick’s. Go to a local running shop or speciality store. It’s free. The only cost is the shoes. These people are there to help you find the best shoe for your running style, foot/arch type, stride, etc. My favorite place here in St. Louis is Big River Running Company. I just purchased my third pair of running shoes from them. The last two pairs I used were the Nike Lunarglide 3’s and 4’s, but I just switched to the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9’s. I only have about 12 miles on them, but so far so good.
Last note about buying shoes: Put aside any thoughts about how good looking or cute or colorful a pair of shoes is. Go with what feels right. I was trying to decide between a pair of Brook’s running shoes with awesome colors and the Mizuno’s I got. In the end, I got the Mizuno’s because of the fit even though I liked the look of the Brook’s better.
2. Running Attire: Have you ever heard the phrase “Cotton is Rotten” ? Well it refers to how cotton shirts are super absorbent, which results in sweat collecting to create soggy shirts. Now I sweat A LOT when I run, but I always wear “tech” shirts. I still sweat through my tops (ew, I know), but they wick the sweat away from me, they’re breathable and help keep me cool so I’m not being weighed down by a soaked shirt. During the summer, I go to places like Kohl’s or Target for warm weather gear. I know I’m going to sweat no matter how (in)expensive a shirt is, so I hit up sales. However, cold weather gear is a different story. I do buy the more expensive, name-brand gear for my heavier stuff. Training for a half marathon this past winter in 20 degree weather with 15 mph wind was not fun. I recommend Nike’s or Under Armour’s cold weather apparel for that time of year. Gear for your ears and hands are also important during the cold months.
3. iPod Nano & Nike+: I have to listen to music while running. It helps with my pace and distract me from whatever is sore. I use the Nike+ system to keep track of my mileage, pace, calories, and time. I’ve considered buying a GPS watch, but haven’t quite made that leap yep because the Nike+ does a good job of keeping track of what I want to know. Because I am not currently using Nike running shoes, I use have a small pouch connected to one of my shoes that holds the censor. I don’t care for the arm band to hold my iPod, so I just clip it to my bra strap right under my top.
4. Water Bottle: I never go for a run without my Camelbak water bottle. I even take it on races with me. A couple of years ago, I could never get past the 5K distance. Heck, I even struggled with that distance. I realized that I needed to be hydrating during my runs. There are different types of water bottles and hydration systems (like these belts with two or four small water bottles,) but I prefer the hand held kind. I see plenty of people not take water bottles on runs with them, which is fine if your body can stand it, but I will always be in favor of using one.
5. Road ID Bracelet: The Hubs had mentioned to me several times about wanting a Road ID bracelet to wear while he goes on bike rides, so this past Christmas I ordered him one. Then we ordered myself one. For us, it’s a security measure to know that if something were to ever happen to us while out running or on the bike and we were to somehow get knocked unconscious, our Road ID bracelets will have emergency contact and medical information on it. I think any active person should consider purchasing one. I actually wear mine 24/7 now. You can customize each line (up to 5 lines) of information on your bracelet. I recommend including any of the following information: your name, city/state of residence, birthday, two emergency contact phone numbers, blood type and medicinal allergies.
6. Pepper Spray: Yes, pepper spray. Or even another type of self-defense mechanism. All of my running is done outdoors, and 99% of the time it’s early morning. It’s not that I don’t feel safe running on the trail that I do (because I do feel safe), but let’s face it….I am a young female. Who knows what’s creeping out there. In all honesty, I’m not so much worried about a person jumping out from behind a bush (there actually aren’t many places to do that where I run), but what I am concerned with is stray dogs. I’ve actually experienced two instances with stray dogs where I was legitimately scared as to whether or not I would get bit. It’s a really scary feeling. I don’t know if pepper spray would help a situation like that, but I feel safer having it than not. The handheld Camelbak water bottle I use has a pouch where I tuck my pepper spray every time I go out.
So that’s my list. Nothing terribly complicated. Every person is different, so have some fun and take your time finding what works best for you.