Essential Running Gear: 6 Must-Have Items for Every Runner
Picture this: the sun rising on a crisp morning, a gentle breeze kissing your face, and the rhythmic sound of your feet hitting the pavement. Running is not just a physical activity; it's a transformative experience that connects us to the world around us and to ourselves.
Too deep? Maybe.
Whether you're a seasoned marathoner, a beginner lacing up for your first 5K, or simply someone who enjoys a leisurely jog, having the right gear can make all the difference in your running journey.
You already invest a lot into your running.
And I'm not talking about a financial investment. I'm talking about the energy it takes to not only complete your runs, but the energy it takes to prepare and recover, too. The time you invest in yourself to train, to run, to recover.
In this article, we'll explore some of the running gear investments you can make to improve your experience as a runner - items that go beyond mere expenses and become essential tools to enhance your running experience, performance, and even your overall well-being. So, let's dive in and discover the key gear every runner should consider as they invest in their passion for running.
1. RUNNING VESTS AND BELTS
If you're a beginner just getting into the groove, you're probably thinking 'do I really need a vest?'. The answer is well, not straight forward. I wrote an article on this recently.
Running vests are like your personal running assistant. They come equipped with multiple pockets and compartments, designed to hold everything from water bottles and energy gels to your smartphone and keys. Staying hydrated during a run is crucial, especially on longer routes. Running vests often include hydration reservoirs or pockets for water bottles, ensuring you can quench your thirst without slowing down. Additionally, having all your essentials neatly organized in one place can make your runs more efficient and enjoyable.
Let's not forget peace of mind.
Here's a review we received just days ago from Andy, a Runly customer who talks about how valuable it is to him to know he's got what he needs:
"After a disastrous run where I didn't prepare or hydrate pre / during I hit the wall at the end and collapsed. The next day, embarrassed about my level of prep, I preordered a vest and honestly it just gave me the peace of mind to know I now have access to hydration but also my phone etc is massive. The vest itself is fantastic, space for everything and everything is within easy reach. I'd never used one before so was worried about how it would feel but it's honestly very snug and comfortable, I forget it's there after the first few k's and I'm sure the more I run with it the more used to it I'll become. Really happy with the purchase, annoyed it took me so long to take the plunge! Great time to get one as it's coming into the warmer months!"
In many ways I feel the same as Andy. Knowing that you have what you need when you're out there is powerful - water, a phone, energy gels and medication. Not to mention the peace of mind it offers your family when you're out on the trails.
For a hydration vest, consider the Runly R700 Hydration Vest (RRP $239).
If you need something simple without hydration, consider the Runly Original Vest (RRP $79).
For runners who prefer a more minimalistic approach, running belts are a fantastic investment. These sleek and lightweight accessories can comfortably carry small items like keys, energy gels, or your smartphone without the bulk of a larger vest. Some running belts are even designed to hold water bottles in a way that minimizes bouncing and discomfort while you're on the move - but in all honesty I find that belts that offer hydration become heavy, and therefore cause more bounce than you would want.
What makes running belts especially attractive is their unobtrusive design. You can wear them around your waist or hips, ensuring easy access to your essentials without disrupting your running rhythm.
These belts are perfect for shorter runs or when you want to keep your gear minimal but still have the convenience of having everything you need within arm's reach.
Once again, a running belt is an investment in peace of mind - knowing you've got everything you need when you're out there. Albeit designed for shorter runs, knowing you've got a phone for emergencies, some energy for when you're running low and keys to back into your house is an investment worth making.
Consider the Runly Glide Running Belt (RRP $79).
2. RUNNING CAPS
Running caps, often underestimated but incredibly versatile, are the unsung heroes of a runner's wardrobe. These lightweight, unassuming accessories offer an array of benefits that can make a substantial difference in your running experience, regardless of whether you're an experienced marathoner or a beginner hitting the pavement.
I don't know about you, but I'm a big cap wearer for any sports or athletic-related activity. If I'm feeling cool, I might even throw it on backwards for extra points. Sun protection, sweat control, a weather shield & let's not forget a style statement.
Sun Protection and Glare Reduction:
One of the primary functions of a running cap is sun protection. Running under the blazing sun can be uncomfortable and even hazardous to your health. Running caps shield your face and eyes from the sun's intense rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and minimizing glare. This not only protects your skin but also enhances your visibility and allows you to maintain focus on your running path.
There's nothing worse than running straight into the glare of the sun and being blinded by what's ahead of you.
Comfortable and Cool:
Running caps provide more than just sun protection. They also keep you cool and comfortable. The shade they offer over your face can help regulate your body temperature and prevent overheating.
Additionally, running caps often come with moisture-wicking properties that help manage sweat, keeping it away from your eyes and face. This can be a game-changer, particularly on hot and humid days when excessive sweat can be a major distraction.
Rain and Wet Weather Shield:
Running isn't just about perfect weather conditions; sometimes you'll find yourself caught in the rain. Running caps provide an extra layer of protection against raindrops, keeping your head dry and your vision clear. This ensures that you can continue your run comfortably, even when the weather doesn't cooperate.
Style and Versatility:
Running caps come in various styles, from traditional baseball caps to more streamlined, performance-oriented designs. They are available in different materials, such as breathable mesh or moisture-wicking fabrics, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your personal preferences and needs. Not only are running caps functional, but they can also add a touch of style to your running outfit, making you look and feel the part of a dedicated runner.
In recent times we've seen an explosion of statement-making running caps hitting the market.
In our humble opinion, you can't go past our friends at FRACTEL who make the best darn running hats on the market (RRP $55-75).
3. RUNNING SHOES
It goes without saying, but running shoes are perhaps the most critical piece of gear for any runner, whether you're a seasoned athlete or just starting on your running journey. They are the foundation upon which your entire running experience is built, impacting not only your performance but also your comfort and safety.
We could write a thesis on running shoes but for the purpose of this article, let's keep it simple.
The Right Fit and Support:
The most vital aspect of running shoes is the fit and support they provide. Properly fitted running shoes offer the necessary support to your feet, ensuring a more comfortable and injury-free run. They are designed to provide stability, cushioning, and shock absorption, which are essential for minimizing the impact on your joints and muscles. Running in the wrong shoes or worn-out ones can lead to discomfort, pain, and even long-term injuries. That's why it's crucial to invest time in finding the right pair that matches your foot shape, running style, and individual needs.
Fun Fact: It is recommended that you replace your running shoes every 500km. If you use an app like Strava, it can be easy to track your distance in each of your shoes.
Running shoes are not just about comfort and protection; they are a tool to enhance your performance. The right pair can improve your running efficiency, helping you to run faster and longer with less effort. Specialised designs for various terrains, such as road running, trail running, or track racing, ensure that you can perform optimally no matter where your running journey takes you.
Properly selected running shoes play a pivotal role in injury prevention. They can help correct overpronation or underpronation, ensuring that your feet are properly aligned with each stride. This can prevent common running-related injuries like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures. High-quality running shoes also provide stability, reducing the risk of ankle rolls and sprains during your runs.
The world of running shoes is constantly evolving, with manufacturers investing heavily in research and technology to create the best possible products. Modern running shoes often feature innovative materials, cushioning technologies, and breathability enhancements to provide an optimal running experience. This means that there is a shoe designed for virtually every type of runner, from casual joggers to elite athletes, tailored to their specific needs and preferences.
We might be a little bias towards our fellow Aussie brands, but Tarkine offer an excellent option for your running shoes priced at $100-200.
Otherwise, it is highly recommended that you get tested at your local running shop to get a pair that suits your own style and preferences.
4. RUNNING SOCKS
The unsung heroes of the runners kit. It's time to level up your sock game and have some fun doing it.
These seemingly simple accessories play a crucial role in your running experience, and choosing the right pair can make a world of difference.
One of the primary functions of running socks is moisture management. Running is a high-impact activity that naturally leads to sweaty feet. Moisture-wicking running socks are designed to pull sweat away from your skin and onto the sock's surface, where it can evaporate. This feature keeps your feet dry, reducing the risk of blisters, chafing, and discomfort during your runs.
Running can be tough on your feet, and blisters are a common concern. Properly designed running socks can help prevent blisters by reducing friction between your foot and your shoe. Look for socks with seamless toes and anatomical cushioning, which can provide extra protection and comfort where you need it most.
Arch Support and Cushioning:
Running socks often come with features like arch support and cushioning in key areas. These features help distribute the pressure more evenly across your feet, providing enhanced comfort and support. Whether you have high arches, flat feet, or anything in between, there are running socks tailored to your specific needs.
Running socks are typically made from moisture-wicking materials like polyester, merino wool, or synthetic blends. Merino wool, in particular, is known for its moisture-wicking properties and temperature regulation. Depending on your running conditions and personal preferences, you can choose the material that best suits your needs.
Take your running seriously, but not too seriously. If you've been around a while in the running scene you've probably noticed socks are a way runners can show a little bit of personality and style. Go bold, go for colour, have a little fun!
Runly offers an electric yellow and fluro pink pair of running socks to up your sock game.
5. RUNNING SUNGLASSES
Can we be real for a second? In a previous life I thought running sunglasses were really uncool. Like, do you really need sunglasses while running?
I'd like to publicly apologise for having such a terrible opinion.
Running sunglasses are more than just a stylish accessory; they are a practical and protective gear choice for runners in any environment. Whether you're a casual jogger or a dedicated marathoner, the right pair of running sunglasses can make a significant difference in your comfort and overall performance.
Especially in today's modern fashionable society where ugly items are somehow cool, put your ego aside and invest in a pair of good quality glasses to protect your eyes for your next run.
Sun Protection and Glare Reduction:
One of the primary reasons to invest in running sunglasses is to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can lead to eye damage and discomfort.
Running sunglasses with UV protection not only shield your eyes from these harmful rays but also reduce glare, ensuring clear vision and minimizing squinting, which can lead to headaches. These sunglasses are especially crucial for runners in sunny or high-altitude environments, where the sun's intensity is more significant. Additionally, polarized lenses can further reduce glare, making your runs more enjoyable and safe. Whether you're running on the open road, a trail, or a track, protecting your vision with the right sunglasses is essential for your eye health and overall well-being.
Comfort and Eye Fatigue Reduction:
Running sunglasses provide comfort by protecting your eyes from wind, dust, and debris, which can be distracting and uncomfortable during your runs. They also help reduce eye fatigue by preventing overexertion of your eye muscles when squinting against the sun or harsh lighting conditions.
Everything is connected. The last thing you want in the last part of your run when your body is screaming with fatigue is your eyes to also start fatiguing. It spells disaster.
This enhanced comfort means you can stay focused on your running form and breathing, leading to better performance and a more enjoyable experience. When selecting running sunglasses, consider factors such as lens color, fit, and coverage to ensure they meet your specific running needs and offer optimal protection and comfort for your eyes.
And finally, have a little fun, don't take it too seriously and go get yourself a bold pair!
6. ENERGY GELS
Energy gels have become a staple in the running world, serving as a quick and convenient source of fuel for athletes during long-distance races and training sessions. These compact, easy-to-carry gel packs are designed to provide a rapid energy boost, helping runners maintain their stamina and performance when they need it most.
They can fit into your running vest or belt allowing easy access when you need it.
Quick and Convenient Energy Source:
Energy gels are formulated with a combination of carbohydrates, typically in the form of simple sugars like glucose and fructose. They are designed to be easily digestible and absorbed by the body, making them a fast and efficient source of energy during runs.
Runners often consume energy gels to replenish glycogen stores and prevent the onset of "the wall," a point in long-distance races where energy levels can plummet. These gels come in various flavors and are packaged in small, portable sachets, making them incredibly convenient to carry and consume on the go.
The precise timing of energy gel consumption varies by individual preferences and race conditions, but they are generally taken during the latter stages of a long race or training session to maintain energy levels and stave off fatigue, allowing runners to perform at their best.
Hot Tip: Test out taking energy gels before your big race. Some people react differently and some people just cannot stomach them. Test, test & test again!
In the world of running, it's clear that the gear and accessories we choose are far more than just tools; they are investments in our comfort, performance, and overall well-being. From running shoes that protect our feet and boost our performance to running socks that keep us comfortable and blister-free, and from the versatile running caps that shield us from the elements to energy gels that provide a burst of stamina when we need it most, each item plays a crucial role in our running journey.