I’m a runner. I actually can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t a runner. I ran track in high school – long distance was my jam. The track at the YMCA is what kept me sane during college. And even since graduation I’ve managed to run a few marathons. (Just don’t ask me my time, please.)
Running also has huge health benefits. You can read more about that here; that’s not what that article is about. What I’d like to do instead is to pass on a few hints I’ve learned along the way. Starting running is very low-maintenance. You won’t need much more than comfortable clothes and supportive shoes. But there are a few other accessories that I find that I can’t live without.
Go ahead and read through this list, then pick the accessories you think will work best for you. As you begin running, you may discover that you need more – that’s okay! Running is a personal and individual sport. Just use this list to begin to make it your own.
I’ve written about compression socks on this blog before. You can read the full article about these little wonder helpers here. That’s because I think they’re absolutely genius. Compression socks are tight-fitting stockings which help increase your circulation. That’s the short version.
The long version is that compression socks will push down gently on your arteries and veins. This causes your blood to circulate more effectively, working against gravity. Your blood is more oxygenated, and when that oxygen-rich blood reaches your heart, it can increase your performance as an athlete.
There are other benefits to compression socks, as well. They’ll help to reduce the soreness you feel after a workout. They’ll also help with recovery when you wear them the following day. If there’s one must-have item on your list as a beginning runner, it’s compression socks. You can find them here.
Hydration Running Belt
When you first start running, you may be unsure of whether you’ll like running for distance or for speed. But either way, you’re going to get thirsty. Some people sweat more than others, but all runners lose water while they exercise.
Staying hydrated is absolutely critical while you’re running. Dehydration will lessen your athletic performance. It will also reduce your aerobic capacity by at least 20%. Furthermore, dehydration is just plain dangerous.
You can always carry a plastic water bottle with you while you run, but those are unwieldy and heavy. Instead, consider taking a look at hydration running belts. Akin to the old-school “fanny packs,” these belts hold one to two custom water bottles.
What’s better is that they’re also a great place to stash your car or house key, your phone, and any medication you might need during a run. I recommend that you look into buying some kind of belt before you begin running. For an example, check out the one I use here.
Music, Music, Music!
I mentioned that the YMCA kept me sane while I was in college. The simple circle track was five laps to a mile, and although I sometimes had company, running around in circles got boring. During the winter, I spend a lot of time on the treadmill. Hours at a time, depending on how I’m training. That, my friends, is also boring.
So I choose music to keep me company. As it turns out, running to music can actually boost your performance by up to 15%, done right. But you need the right equipment. Choosing an mp3 player or iPod is just up to your personal preference. However, that device needs to stay put.
When you run, two things happen. First, you bounce. Second, you sweat. A lot. To avoid a wet iPod that juggles out of place, you’ll need an armband. My mp3 player is a Sansa Clip, so this is the arm band that I use, here. You can find your own, according to your electronic preferences.
You may not run at night, but it’s still a good idea to have at least one piece of reflective gear while you run. Even foggy conditions can prove unsafe. You won’t be as visible to cars, and you’ll put yourself at risk without reflective gear.
Many runners opt for a reflective jacket. However, I argue that it’s useless when you get too warm and the jacket ends up around your waist. I, personally, use shoe clips and an arm band. I’ve also got a few other random reflective items I throw on from time to time.
Whatever you decide, be sure that it’s a comfortable product and won’t cause chafing. Some vests and belts can be very uncomfortable. Look for a breathable material, and try it on before you buy it.
The Perfect Shoe
An entire article could be written about finding the perfect running shoe. In fact, I could probably fill an entire book with information on getting the right fit. My best suggestion to you is to shop around.
Do not – I repeat, do not – buy your first pair of running shoes online. Instead, visit a specialized store. There’s a really cool store that was founded in my hometown of Carrboro, North Carolina. I’ve always been a fan of the personalized service, and if you have a Fleet Feet location near you, I absolutely recommend that you visit.
Fleet Feet, like any good specialty store, will take their time with you. They’ll measure your feet, then they’ll take you outside for a jog. The reps will give you a run-down on your pronation and your gait, and recommend a shoe that’s right for you.
Wearing the right shoe is critical to a runner of any experience level. The wrong shoe can cause sprains, strains, fatigue and blistering. A poorly fit shoe can even cause your toenails to turn black. (Think I’m kidding? Check this article out.) In short, a shoe that fits well and provides the right support for your foot is the most important running accessory.
It’s very easy to get started as a runner. With just a bit of basic gear, you can be running as soon as today! Check with your doctor to ensure that you’re healthy enough to run, then go shopping. I hope you love running as much as I do!
Ok, let´s do a 6th one, as it´s extremely important as well…
These special socks are designed for runners and provide excellent stability and comfort during or after runs. Every runner has experienced aching and swollen feet that can limit your results and performance significantly. That´s why you should always wear special socks during your runs or exercises and they are definitely essentials for runners.