what running gear to I need to get started


What do you need to start running?

Way back in 2010, many of the writers at The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans were training for their first half and full marathons with Team Shrinking Jeans.  They were celebrating Sisterhood Running Month with a “How To” series on running. You can catch Part 1 of the series on running here! Because it’s been almost 5 years and gear and gadgets change, we’ve decided an update to this original post was in order.

We all have certain things we swear by when it comes to running (or for several of our current writers, walking and general fitness). But what do you need to start running? A lot of finding what works for you is just trial and error. Keep in mind, what works for one person, may not necessarily be the best for another! However, as we do tend to rely heavily on others’ opinions and reviews when it comes to workout gear, in re-vamping this post I’ve decided to crowd source our current writing staff (plus throw in my own opinions) to bring you a current list of favorites!

Running Clothes:

  • I love socks from SmartWool – specifically their PhD collection. I have thin ones for most of the year and thicker ones for the winter.  Melissa also mentioned excellent fitting and wicking socks as the most important part of her running wardrobe.  Correct fitting, running-specific socks will keep your feet comfortable, dry and blister-free.
  • My favorite tank tops are from Lululemon (run swiftly tech racerbacks) while Heather goes for Nike DriFit tops.
  • A number of us wear Athleta running tights or capris.  In the winter, I wear an old pair of North Face tights similar to these with a Lululemon Pace Setter skirt on top – double layering over my bum helps keep it a bit warmer.
  • You can never go wrong with sweatbands – Sweatybands are a favorite of many of us. Knee-high striped socks are also a plus.
  • Lisa swears by her running skirts from SparkleSkirts while I’m a Sparkle Athletic girl (because I can wear their sparkle skirts over any bottoms.
  • In the winter, a great jacket is a must.  Lisa is currently loving her Moving Comfort Fusion Hoodie and when the temps drop below freezing, I don’t leave home without my Nike Element Shield Full Zip jacket.
  • You’ll notice this list is heavy on the technical fabrics.  The most important piece of advice I can give regarding clothing is Cotton is Rotten.  Heavy, wet cotton will leave you cold and chafed.  Trust me, we’ve all made that mistake once.

Running Shoes:

  • Shoes are, IMO, the MOST IMPORTANT piece of running gear you will ever own.  In fact, they may also be the most expensive shoes in your closet.  The right shoes FOR YOU are very important and can absolutely make or break your running. Read more about choosing the right shoes here.
  • There are as many shoe favorites among the Shrinking Jeans writers as there are writers.  I wear shoes by Newton Running and Lisa and Melissa both toe the line in shoes by Brooks.  New Balance has been a favorite for years by others.  I won’t recommend specific models because we are all so very different in our needs.
  • To find the right shoe for you, it is imperative you go to a running specialty store and be fitted by a professional.  Also recognize that your shoe needs may change as your running style changes.  I’ve gone from a serious stability Asics to a very minimal Newton over the past 2 years, so be willing to experiment to find the shoe that is right for you.

Sports Bras:

  • I have tried many, many brands of sports bras and my number one favorite is Sturdy Girl.  This is a great bra for those of us a bit more well endowed but not needing the level of support in a bra like Enell. Lots of support for those of us who are a bit on the busty side!
  • Lisa also loves Shock Absorber and Heather finds the Lululemon TaTa Tamer to be a winner.
  • For many years, the writers here have also worn just about every model bra Moving Comfort makes, with the Maia and Juno the most popular styles.
  • If you are fortunate enough to not need as much support on top, your basic Nike compression bra or even C9 from Target are great options.  Even those of you will A-cups still need a sports bra though, so don’t skip this piece of clothing!

Gotta Have Running Gadgets:

  • I think we are all in agreement that MP3 players and iPods are a must!!  I run with my iPhone5 so music is never far away. Stash it in a SpiBelt and you are all set.
  • A heart rate monitor is nice to have. We love Polar.
  • GPS watch. So handy to have when you are running outside on unmapped courses! A few of us at Shrinking Jeans use the Garmin brand (I have the 410, which is now discontinued but similar to the 620, and Melissa wears the ForeRunner 15).  I couldn’t imagine leaving home without my Garmin.  Polar also makes a number of GPS watches.
  • Tracking your activities on a FitBit or Jawbone is another option, as is using your smartphone with apps such as Runmeter and DailyMile.

Stay Hydrated When You Run:

  • If you are going to be running over an hour, a hydration belt is a great investment. Several of us use the Fuel Belt brand and I love my Nathan Trail Mix belt.
  • Good ole’ chocolate milk is an excellent post-run recovery drink because of its perfect balance of protein and carbs.
  • If you want some extra protein after your run, give CLICK Espresso Protein Drink a try. It comes in Mocha and Vanilla Latte varieties and it tastes delicious! Contains approximately 15g of protein per serving!
  • Most of us hydrate with water or Nuun.  I love Nuun in the summer when I’m much sweatier.  I can usually get away with water the rest of the year.

Fuel for Runners:

  • Clif Shot Bloks. Quick and easy to pop during longer runs. They come in a variety of flavors such as Cran-Raz, Strawberry, and Margarita!
  • GU. You may have to try several flavors before you find the right one for you. There are some varieties that I can’t handle, but I love the Salted Caramel, which is now a year-round flavor!
  • I was introduced to Health Warrior Chia Bars at FitBloggin this past year and I’m HOOKED.  I am also a huge fan of Larabars.
  • Melissa also reminded me that real food is great as well.  Bananas, dates, chia seeds, and peanut butter are good options.

Miscellaneous Running Must-haves:

  • Sunglasses are a must. Lissa wears the Serengeti brand. I got mine at my local running store but don’t remember the brand.  Look for ones with exchangeable lenses so you can adapt them for your needs.
  • A foam roller. Great for rolling out those achy, sore muscles. It hurts. But it’s a good hurt.
  • Sore muscles? Try Traumeel cream or Biofreeze.  A soak in Epsom Salts does wonders as well.
  • Bodyglide. This is pretty unanimously loved by our writers. Running causes chafing. Bodyglide adds a protective layer over your skin. Put it anywhere and everywhere.  I’ve also had great luck with Monistat (yes, them) Chafing Relief Powder Gel.  It has a much silkier feel than the Bodyglide for me.
  • If you forget Bodyglide, Heather says to use Boudreaux’s Butt paste. Look in your diaper bag or the baby aisle at the store.
  • Sunblock. Protect your skin, even on cloudy days.
  • Road ID. Identification tags for athletes, because you just never know what may happen.

What are some of your favorite/must-have running products?

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Bari is an avid runner and sometime triathlete, learning the importance of training smart but also having fun. She loves to share a good beer with friends and has been known to host virtual toasts on Twitter. When she isn’t running, biking, swimming, or trying to lift heavy things, she’s playing on her phone or trying to figure out how to pay for college for her twins who graduate in 2015. Bari lives in West Michigan and loves to encourage new runners and triathletes to reach their goals.