Running Gear: Needs vs. Nice To Haves

Running Gear

They say running is a cheap sport, but anyone who has priced out a new pair of running shoes knows that isn’t the case. What is true of running is it’s as complicated (and expensive) as you want to make it.

I think of running gear as falling into two camps: need to haves and nice to haves.

Running Gear

Gear You Need

There are two essential pieces of running gear – one applies to every runner, the other applies only to a subset of runners.

The running needs:

  1. A quality pair of shoes
  2. A supportive jog bra

I’ve said it before, good shoes made me a runner, a good jog bra kept me a runner.


To be a lifelong runner, you need to protect your body from the forces of running.

Go to a reputable running store and get fitted for a pair of shoes that will work for you, your running goals, and your physiology. There are shoe bargains to be had, so don’t let the prices scare you (too much).

I usually end up buying last season’s shoes when they go on clearance to save a few bucks. No one will care they are last season’s colors.

Jog Bra

If you are a lady with a large chest, a quality jog bra is worth its weight in gold.

The forces of running and how those forces impact your chest is no joke. I’m still working on a polite way to stop runners I see who clearly need a supportive jog bra and suggest they go bra shopping.

It is life altering!

Read MoreRunner Gear

Beyond ‘Need’ – Running Nice To Haves

But where’s the fun in sticking only with the things you absolutely need?

Adding in a few ‘nice to haves’ will make your running even more fun.

But beware of the potential to use the hunt for ‘the perfect…’ as a procrastination technique, especially if you are a beginner (as in, “I’d love to start running, but I need to find the perfect fill in the blank first”).

With everything other than shoes, start with what you have and upgrade. Or start without the extras and acquire gear as you run. I’ve been known to use the purchase of non-essential running gear as a reward for meeting my running goals (I’ve always been a fan of self-bribery).

GPS (or equivalent app)

These come in all levels.

Some GPS watches are pretty basic and only tell you your distance and pace. Others are basically full-on computers that can tell you 80 different stats about your run.

Many apps do basically the same thing, including Strava, Nike Run Club and Map My Run.

If you are just starting out, you don’t need a super fancy or expensive watch, but having a basic GPS watch or an app so you can check in on your distance and pace is a great tool to have.

Weather Appropriate Gear

What this consists of will vary based on your location.

  • Rain gear
  • Cold-weather gear
  • Hot climate gear (long-sleeve summer gear, powerful sunscreen, hydration system)

Never use bad weather as an excuse to not run – you can run in any conditions with the right gear.

Besides, running in the rain is actually really fun, I swear. Getting started on a rainy run isn’t always fun, and heading out the door on a rainy day is tough. But once you get going? It’s fun – how many chances do you get to jump in puddles as an adult?

Read Morerunning excuses bad weather

Foam Roller

Being a good runner requires more than just running.

To keep your muscles happy and healthy, you should stretch and roll them out on a regular basis. Foam rolling is magic – it makes problems better and can prevent new problems from occurring.

Sure it can hurt (a good hurt, though), if you are yelping while doing it, chances are you are doing it right, but your muscles will thank you.

Foam rollers come in many models in all price ranges. I used a very basic foam model for years before recently upgrading to a fancier Trigger Point roller.

If you want to use what you already have golf balls, tennis balls, and lacrosse balls can all be used to roll out particular body parts.

Shoe Usage Tracker

Shoes don’t last forever.

Don’t mess around with your shoes. They are the first and last line of defense to protect your body from the forces of running, but they don’t last forever.

Since a new pair can be so expensive, it can be tempting to put off buying a new pair as long as possible. You can also easily lose track of how many miles you’ve run.

Running shoes usually last between 300-500 miles, but how many miles your shoes will last can vary greatly based on make and model (check out the website for your shoes or ask a reputable running store for the specifics of your shoe model).

Many running apps, like Strava and Garmin Connect, have automated tools to track shoe mileage.

Running Journal

To be a successful runner, you not only need to train your body, but you also need to train your brain.

Runners should pay attention to their mindset, what they are thinking about on the run, and what is going on in their lives that may impact their running (it’s shocking how much non-running stresses can negatively impact your running).

One great way to do this is to keep a running journal and spend a few minutes after each run considering the mental and physical aspects of the run.

When you pay attention to all facets of your run on a regular basis, you can more easily see the patterns and make changes to improve your running.

Read MoreRunning Journal


What about you? What is your favorite piece of running gear?

Running Gear

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