I started running a decade ago because I wanted an easy way to get fit and healthy. I could do it outside for free. All I really needed was some comfortable clothes and sneakers. There were few barriers and low expectations.
If you want to start running, you need clothes you can move comfortably in and cushioned sneakers. That’s it. Everything else is mental. You need strength and determination to keep going, you need discipline to get out there day after day, and you need humility to accept that you won’t look or feel like an expert.
I’m currently training for the Austin Half-Marathon, my ninth half-marathon and my fourth Austin Marathon run. This is my favorite run in Austin! It’s got just enough challenge and you get to run around scenic Austin.
Now, if you need some fancy tools to encourage you to run, invest in, and make the sport easier, here’s my list of recommendations. I’m not a super competitive runner (I’m not too picky about gear), but these are the things I’ve used to get myself past the marathon finish line.
Running Tops & Bottoms for the Season
I am not so picky about my brands for summer running. I still have Nike shorts from my college days that I rotate through and I have a handful of tanks and shirts from races and miscellaneous shopping.
For winter running, I’ve been loyal to UnderArmour ColdGear leggings. They keep me warm enough for those Texas winter days. On top, I pile on a few layers and usually a sweatshirt, though I do have an UnderArmour ColdGear top also. (UnderArmour also has HeatGear, which is supposed to keep you cool, but I’ve always had plenty of warm weather running options so I haven’t tried them.)
I like seeing the stats on a watch. I can track all my runs and run my playlist through my Garmin vívoactive 3 Music watch. It syncs to a Spotify playlist I created. While running, I can monitor my pace and distance, though sometimes they can be a distractor! Sometimes the watch takes a lot of time detecting my GPS location before the run, but overall, I love it.
Up until two years ago, I was using an iPod shuffle with music I bought on iTunes and attached headphones! It worked but I’ve since upgraded and I’m not sure why I waiting so long. I’ve tried a few podcasts, but I gravitate towards upbeat music while working out. Some people can run without listening to anything but I need that outside motivator! Here are some of the songs that pump me up:
- Falling to Pieces by Marshmello and Crank Dat
- People You Know by Selena Gomez
- Higher Love by Kygo and Whitney Houston
- Cut to the Feeling by Carly Rae Jepsen
I updated my watch and headphones when I was training for my marathon, and it was a big improvement! I had used old iPod headphones until then, so these Soundcore bluetooth headphones by Anker have been great! I asked for running headphones as a birthday present a few years ago, so I haven’t done much research on workout headphones. I love these because they sync with my watch quickly, have good suction, and don’t fall out of my ears while running, and the sound quality is good. Not to mention, they are very affordable!
I’m particular about my running socks. I like lightweight socks so my feet don’t overheat and you want socks that fit well to avoid blisters. I started out with Swiftwick socks, which I still like, but I’ve found Feetures has a better fit and is more advanced. They have different compression types and socks for feet that are prone to plantar fasciitis (me!).
Out of all the gear, shoes are the most important! You want your foot to move seamlessly and for your legs and knees to be supported. Running is a tough sport on your body and good support will help. I recommend going to a reputable running shop to get fitted for a good shoe. You’ll be able to voice your concerns and try on different shoes to feel what type of support is most comfortable.
I am a Brooks runner. I’ve tried a few other brands but I come back to Brooks. They specialize in running gear, so they are always improving. I’m a fan of their Adrenaline GTS shoe line. The shoes give me support while keeping my feet cushioned. I always get pairs that are crazy bright colors but my current pair is toned down with neon accents.
Headband and Gloves
In winter weather (usually under 50 degrees to me), I have to have a fleece headband to cover my ears or they start to hurt! I don’t have a particular brand, since it was something I picked up randomly and I’m not picky about it. I use a thinner one or a thicker one, depending on the weather. Gloves are also good for freezing fingers! This pair was an ambassador gift from Austin Marathon.
Supplements and Nutrition
There is science behind when, what, and how much to take before, during, and after you run. Caffeine, electrolytes, and carbohydrates are the supplements to help you perform and recover better. Test out what you take before a race so you know how your stomach takes it.
For the marathon, I carried and used a few things to give me a boost. I timed my consumption out for my marathon and I usually only take a supplement during my run if I’m running 10 or more miles. I’ve used CLIF Blocks, Gu Chews, and Gu Energy Gels.
Before a long run, I usually eat a banana and/or a CLIF bar and hydrate well, especially on hot days. After long runs, I rehydrate with a Nuun tablet.
I use a belt on occasion to hold my phone or keys. I’ve used two different brands, and I love the Spibelt one because it doesn’t bounce and stretches to the size of the object you’re carrying.
Hand-held Water Bottle
For those long runs, hydration helps give a boost! I’ve filled my 9oz Nathan handheld water bottle with Nuun water and kept gel in the pouch. This lightweight water bottle fits over your hand and the water bottle is curved. I filled it up at water stops along the marathon route.
If you asked me about my running gear 10 years ago, it would have differed a lot! It has definitely been a learning process to figure out what works best for me on my runs. If you’re getting into running or wanting to improve, maybe this gear list can help.
What are your recommendations for running gear?