When I first started running I thought I all I needed was a pair of shoes. While this is still technically true, there are so many other great products and gear that can really help you step up your running game and help you look/feel great while doing it. I often get asked by new runners for my opinions running gear so thought I would put together a list of some of my favorite running ‘essentials’:
When it comes to race bottoms i’m a Lululemon girl through and through. For summer races, the ‘what the sport short’ is my go-to. A really snug fit with tons of pocket space for my gels – the side pockets even fit my iPhone 6! The only downside to these, if you’re a bit of a curvier girl like me, they can sometimes make your thighs look like stuffed sausages (attractive right?). Since I typically wear these underneath a sparkle skirt (and the tight fit also means no riding/rolling up while you run) I don’t mind at all. When I’m just training and running less than 10 miles I’m not too picky with my running tights/shorts and often find myself running in Old Navy’s Active line of compression tights and capris. They are a great fit and a cheaper alternative to Lululemon and come in a huge selection of super fun prints.
Moisture Wicking Shirts
If I’m not wearing one of my RunDisney event shirts, I’m wearing RawThreads. They have a fantastic line of Disney inspired moisture wicking performance gear. I usually run in their racerbacks – super soft (made from part bamboo and organic cotton) and they even offer UV protection for those long summer runs.
For years I ran in Mizuno’s but made the switch to New Balance in 2015 and haven’t looked back. I love my 890v5’s – they feel like I’m running on a cloud! If you’re not sure what shoe is right for you head to your local running store and asked to be fitted.
Garmin – Forerunner 220
I’m a devoted Galloway interval runner and I love my Forerunner 220 for the run/walk notifications and GPS tracking. I really couldn’t train or race without it. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, the Gym Boss Interval Timer is popular for run/walkers as well as the Mapmyrun app.
Yurbuds – Inspire Duro
I don’t know if I have oddly shaped ears but it took forever to find headphones that would stay in while I run. With the twist lock technology, the Yurbuds actually stay put even throughout 20 + mile training runs. They can be a little pricey but if it means not stopping mid-run to fiddle with headphones it’s well worth it in my books.
Compression socks/sleeves can be worn during a run or post workout to help with faster recovery. They work by improving circulation – the better the circulation the less fatigue and faster your muscles recover. I’ve actually experimented with a few brands but still haven’t found a clear winner just yet. So far I’ve run in Zoot, Zensah, and CEP with Pro Compression next on my list to try. So far the CEP compression socks stand out (super soft and comfy) and Zensah for calf sleeves. I’ll have to report back once I’ve ordered my first pair of Pro Compression socks. TIP: sign up for emails from pro compression if you haven’t already – they frequently send out promo codes for 40% off.
KT Tape is often used by runners to help with muscle/tendon pain relief and support but it really can be used for just about any common injury (not just running-related ones). It’s lightweight and still offers flexibility/full range of motion while getting the support you need. Available in a whole rainbow of colors and even some fun prints and ‘sparkle’ tape this is a great alternative for me instead of wearing a knee brace.
Regardless of what distance your training for, this is an important one. It took a lot of experimenting to find out what works best for me. I’m a picky eater and texture is big thing for me so finding fuel that wasn’t too gooey or had a weird consistency was important. After trying lots of different products I settled on Gu Energy Gels. They taste great and come in a huge selection of flavors both with or without caffeine. If you’re weird about gels/consistency Jelly Belly has a line of Sport Jelly beans which taste awesome – just like candy. As for hydration, I always start and finish a work out with Nuun hydration tablets. Packed full of electrolytes (and no added sugars) they come in a variety of great flavors and are a delicious alternative to regular water or Powerade.
If anyone follows me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I can’t run a race without a Sparkle Athletic Sparkle Skirt. Who doesn’t love a little sparkle, right? The skirts are really light weight and make a great addition to wear over your favorite running shorts or tights. Sparkle Athletic also sells a variety of other sparkle gear like arm sleeves, visors, calf sleeves (non-compression), and different shoe accessories. After all sparkle does = speed… Check them out!
Another favorite sparkly accessory of mine is Sparkly Soul headbands. These headbands are super comfy and are great for any hair type or head shape. They won’t budge at all during your run and they don’t have that annoying piece of elastic in the back.
So there you have it! What makes your list of running essentials? Share some of your favorites and sound off in the comments below – i’m always looking for new brands and products to try!
**all opinions are my own based on personal experience and was not provided any compensation for mentioning the companies above**