So you have a pair of Converse Chucks, some jean shorts, and a sleeveless t-shirt. Think you’re ready to train for your first marathon? Uh, NO!
The mistake many new runners make when beginning this lifelong endeavor we call “Self Torture” is to buy nothing, the wrong things, or way too much. For example, here are some tips for gear you’ll want when you begin training. I’ll cover more equipment in later articles:
- Shoes are the most important part of any runner’s equipment! Heck, I’m even going to write an article devoted to shoe shopping! Don’t skimp on shoes, but don’t buy a pair because they look sharp, or because you think higher price means higher quality. It’s not that easy. Look for Part Three where I wrote this topic in more depth.
- Make sure you buy comfortable running clothes. The best material is a polyester blend, not cotton. Make sure it’s soft, not stiff, because it could end up rubbing you the wrong way, literally. As a note, I bought some “sports shirts” for a great price, but realized they’re just too rough on the inside (you’ll see why in 2 paragraphs!). I don’t recommend cotton because it will keep the moisture close to your body and most likely cause rashes on longer runs. You want something with “moisture-wicking” properties.Sorry about being candid, but guys, unless you’re super-skinny, you may end up having a problem with, um, your shirt rubbing your sensitive chest parts raw. There are numerous antidotes I found online, but honestly, cheap store-brand bandaids work best, and have stuck on for up to 21 kms (my longest run so far). Ladies, you rarely have to worry about this because your anatomy is more snuggly fit in your sports bra, but guys don’t have that luxury.
- As for shorts, get some that don’t ride up on you. Generally, the double-layer shorts will ride up, but the single layer shorts may show light-colored undergarments more easily. Ultimately, you will want to try them on, and take a quick jog.
- Finally, socks and undergarments. There are moisture-wicking socks that cost a decent chunk of change, but you’ll want to pick wisely if you choose to buy them over regular cotton socks. I chose the thin material, and found that my feet slide around way too much in my shoes. Plus I just don’t get much padding with thin socks. Ask if they have any sample pairs ( true runner’s stores are prepared for this exact request), and try them on with your running shoes. As for undies and bras, all I can tell you is they get sweaty, and are the closest things to your delicates, so choose the garments well. For your bottom half, choose something that isn’t too tight, but not too loose. For the top, comfort and support are paramount.
- Gear. Oh, where do I start? You have backpacks, fanny packs, belts with fluid bottles, belts with fluid bladders, hats, headbands, knee supports, ankle supports, special lightweight sunglasses, GPS units, and so on. Here’s the rundown:
- For the extra-long runs (10 miles and up), you’ll want a some packs, which usually carries about 45oz (waist packs) to 70oz+ (backpacks). These come VERY handy on hot running days, and I’ve found I went through the whole 70oz bladder and was STILL dehydrated on a 35 degree day. You DO NOT want to get dehydrated, EVER!
- For other runs, you’ll want a fanny pack, aka waist pack, to carry your personal items. You can also buy modular belts that can hold water bottles as well as small satchels for your keys/wallet/etc. However, if you plan to buy the item online, be sure you try that model on in a store first.
- I HIGHLY recommend a GPS/Fitbit wristband. There are a few flavors, choose the best you can afford. Maybe I’ll do a post on this later. These units track your speed, distance, elevation, and heart-rate. They sync with your laptop and maps in its own software, or you can get an account with numerous online sites to get more features. Heck, you can even map your data with Google Earth! Some say they’re not incredibly accurate, but most are reasonably so.
- As for other gear like hats, headbands, sunglasses, etc., that’s up to you and your preferences. I found that my head needs to breathe more than I need to keep sweat from my eyes, but you may feel the opposite. For knees, you may want to consult with a sports doctor person to see if they work or not. Honestly, I’m a heavy guy, and my knees are already bad. I can only avoid pavement so much, and even on rubber, my knees take a pounding. However, I’m doing it without knee equipment that I may regret later in life. Comment if you have any advice for me!
Well, I hope that’s a good, general rundown of the equipment you need (and don’t need) to get you off and running (2 puns in one sentence!). Be sure to check back soon to learn about appropriate shoe sizing and purchasing techniques!