The idea of running is easy. Put your shoes on and get outside and run. It’s great because being outdoors is free. But if we’re honest for a minute, running does cost money. We don’t go out running starkers (well, maybe you do, whatever floats your boat), we need something on our feet and these things cost money. It’s also easy to get caught up in the hype over the latest gadgets and buy running kit that we don’t actually need at the expense of an essential. So I’ve decided to put together a list of my top 5 essential pieces of running kit.
1. Sports bra
In my opinion, this is even more important than the right trainers if you are female, especially if you are busty. It breaks my heart when I read through various running groups on Facebook and women are lamenting having to wear two bras for running, or complaining about the £25 price tag. I’m not going to lie, a good bra can cost and I know this is a lot of money, but if you spend money on ANYTHING it should be your sports bra. Wearing two bras is uncomfortable, can lead to chafing and can compress breast tissue. Regular bras are not designed for workouts. And most importantly, make sure the bra fits and is looked after properly.
My personal favourites are the Shock Absorber Multi Sport (my latest is a 34G as I find the bands very snug in this range), the Shock Absorber Run Bra is also fantastic. With racer backs and two places to fasten, both are robust options and great for running. Check out eBay and Amazon for last season models at reduced costs. For more information on bras, check out my bra guide, or any one of these posts. The Shock Absorber Multi Sport now goes up to a 40HH, so they are doing a great job at catering to the fuller busted athlete.
2. Running shoes
Running shoes are important, we all know that. No one wants to run in shoes that aren’t fit for purpose. Visit your local running shop and see if they can do a gait analysis. This is usually free of charge and you will run either in a treadmill or on the pavement outside the shop. You will then be advised of the best shoes for you. Most shops will also offer a guarantee where the shoes can be returned if they don’t work for you. I always find Runners Need especially helpful.
I ran my first 5k (before I was a runner) in an old pair of beaten up fashion Ellese trainers (with two sports bras and a cotton shirt). I finished it in 35 minutes and my arches HURT for days after. Don’t be tempted by your comfy old Converse. Just don’t. It could lead to injury.
3. Running socks
Feet get smelly and sweaty when we run. When I started, for months I was prone to blisters. I used to run in bog standard socks from the supermarket, or H&M – the type with silly patterns on them. I am particularly fond of penguin socks. However, they are not particularly great for running. I kept moaning about my blistered feet and then someone pointed out to me “well, you wear silly socks when you run.” I dutifully went and got some cheap Karrimor running socks and that was the end of my blisters. And yes, I still run in those cheap socks.
4. Running tights or shorts with pockets
And by pocket, I don’t mean a piddly little key pocket at the back, which means you have to either run holding your mobile, or have it strapped to your arm getting chafed to pieces. No, I mean tights or shorts with PROPER pockets which are big enough for your phone, some cash and keys. The Ron Hill trail running range is brilliant – I have two pairs of the shorts and a pair of the trail running capris. They are magic and they carry everything except perhaps the kitchen sink. Worth buying as it means there is no need for a waist pack or running belt bumping around. The ladies capris are currently retailing for £42 on the Ron Hill website but they are comfortable and mean you don’t need to spend money on a belt. A little dig on Amazon brings up past season versions considerably cheaper although in limited sizes. Decathlon also offer a range with pockets. And pockets are great.
5. Handheld water bottle
If you’re new to running or doing longer distances, you might be taking water with you. Some people don’t, when I started I did and if I’m going beyond 4 miles, I will still take water with me. Get a handheld water bottle like this Karrimor one*. Much easier to hold when running as your grip is more relaxed than when carrying a more traditional bottle.