This week, I received this message from a loyal blog-follower:
And she’s not the only one to ask these questions as it can be overwhelming. So though I have talked about shoes before, today we are going to tackle the topic of favorite running gear! From head to toe…
If you do end up training outside, it’s probably a good idea to have a running hat. When it comes to sun, and more importantly, rain, a hat will protect you and make you more comfortable. I typically run in the freebies given out at some races, but if you want to purchase one, you have plenty of options. Like this one.
Also important in the head gear department is some sort of headband to keep those stray hairs from becoming a nuisance. I buy mine at the drug store.
I find that sports bras are going to be a personal choice and finding a supportive one that keeps the girls in place without compressing your lung capacity is not always an easy feat! But one thing you definitely want to do is get one made from a wicking or dri-fit material. This pulls the sweat from your body. One suggestion is to look at TJ Maxx as I have found some great, high quality bras for $10-20. My latest find? This one from target. It’s a dream.
When purchasing a running top, you again want to go with something made from wicking material. There are all sorts of varieties including tshirts, sleeveless tops and running tanks. If you go to a running store, you’ll find brands like Mizuno, Brooks and Puma in addition to the regulars of Adidas, Nike and Under Armour. Regardless of brand, try to stick with something that is specific for running as they were designed to have seams in the right places, ventilation and overall comfort for a running form (like these!) Also, be sure to read the labels to make sure that the shirt is designed for the right temperature. You’ll notice some clothing specifically for cold weather running, warm, maximum intensity, etc. If you end up buying something that’s considered a base layer, I have found it may creep up and force you to constantly adjust if worn on its own. Try clothes on to determine if you prefer to wear something that’s more loosely fitted or tight. For the summer, I personally love running tanks with a razorback. If you’ll notice, just about anyone looks like they have ripped back muscles with a razorback! My favorite brand of running tops is Puma, but mainly just because I love their designs. If you know me at all, you won’t be surprised to hear that I try to look cute when running. And with all of the options out there right now, it’s not hard to do.
Now for bottoms. For the longest time, I only wore spandex running pants – whether those be full tights, capris or shorts. Mostly because I found that they tend to require the least amount of maintenance while running. Now I have incorporated Nike running shorts in my wardrobe and I love them. They have built-in underwear and seem to be a bit more breathable than spandex.
Regardless of the type of bottoms you prefer, here are some things to look for. 1) A pocket. If you are running outside, you’ll typically need someplace to store your car or house key. Or maybe a gel. Or IBprofen. Make sure there is at least one pocket. 2) Again, wicking material. 3) Identify the seams and where they fall. I made the mistake of once buying a pair that had a seam running right through the middle of the pants. Horribly uncomfortable for obvious reasons. 4) Try them on and ensure they aren’t too big around the waist, or if they are, that there is a drawstring. Nothing is worse than your pants sliding down as you are running.
Now…let’s talk about underwear. (Note, the P word which typically is used to describe female underwear is my most hated word. I don’t say it, nor type it. Got it?) If you don’t think there is value in forking over big bucks for dri-fit underwear, then you haven’t been exposed to extreme chaffing along your bikini line yet. Not only do they help avoid that, but they stay in place! Check out what I am talking about here. (And if you for some reason choose to run in the Under Armour thong feature on that link, please let me know so I can ask you why on earth you would ever think that’s comfortable.)
As for socks…try to avoid cotton. They hold moisture and could cause some bad blisters. Once again, dri-fit. They aren’t cheap but any running store carries them. You’ll thank me later.
In addition to these main clothing items, there is a host of other accessories you may consider. For instance, fuel belts. When going for a long run, fuel belts give the ability to have water whenever you need, plus include a little fanny-pack for you to hold gels or jelly beans or whatever. On those hot days it’s a must. There are a few different kinds and you can find these at any running stores or online. One version is a bottle that straps to your hand for you to carry. This would annoy the hell out of me. So I tend to use either the belt that has one bottle version that rests against your lower back…
Or one that has between 2-4 pockets for smaller bottles to carry around your waist. The nice part about this type is that you can mix in different forms of fluids (Gatorade and water, for instance).If you are looking for a watch to keep track of your splits, a good old Timex Ironman one from Target will do just fine. But if you are going big time and want a GPS watch, you can’t go wrong with the Garmin 305. It’s the older version so is clunky (like wearing a mini PC on your wrist) but the satellite is reliable and it’s great to always know your pace. You can find these on Amazon for around $130. You may not think it’s necessary…but you won’t regret it for one second.
And lastly, if you saw my Mini Marathon outfit, you may have noticed my compression sleeves. I used to see people wear them and wonder why you wouldn’t just wear a long-sleeved shirt instead. But after racing in them, I found that I love them. They are light weight, they keep your arms warm and they are easy to manipulate. Hands cold? Pull them down over your fingers. Getting a bit warm? Take them off and tuck them in your fuel belt. I love them.
So these are my favorites. What are yours? Leave me your top picks in the comments section below!