As a new runner, walking into a running store can be intimidating. Walls of spandex, minimalist shoes, and recovery products that look more like torture devices are typically the norm. What products do beginning runners really need, and which are best suited for seasoned runners? Listed below are a few items that beginners will find most helpful in their quest towards fitness.
Properly Fitting Running Shoes
Good running shoes are the most important item a new runner can purchase. Even if only running a handful of kilometers per week, proper shoes can be the difference between comfortable running and blisters, shin splints, or other painful injuries. Ask an employee at a local running store for help in choosing a shoe, and always shop based on comfort, never color or style.
Athletic SocksThe athletic sock industry continues to grow as manufacturers develop new products that overcome a slew of common problems, such as blisters, falling arches, and sweaty feet. A good running sock will be supportive and have the ability to wick sweat. For runners who suffer from between-the-toe blisters, toe socks can be helpful, as well. Socks that provide compression are also available for those with foot pain or soreness.
Running WatchAmong runners, two camps exist: those who swear by their GPS-enabled watch, and those who would prefer not to know the exact distance of their runs. Either way, a watch is a great tool for a beginning runner. If simply interested in knowing the amount of time spent running, a running watch can help new runners track their progress on commonly run routes and also help reach new goals, such as adding 5 minutes to the next run. For runners seeking more data, a GPS watch can not only track the number of kilometers run, but can also conveniently save routes, elevation gains and losses, splits, and heart rate data. For a newbie, this data can be a useful tool tracking progress as well as recognizing the way running affects the body.
Hydration PackDuring summer months, a handheld water bottle or hydration pack can be a lifesaver. For runners who enjoy running on trails or bike paths where water fountains are scarce, having a hydration pack can enable longer runs and faster recovery, as well as a decreased risk of heat stroke and dehydration. Depending on a beginner’s body composition and sweat rate, a hydration pack may even be useful for shorter runs. A variety of styles are available for every type of runner, from backpacks to handheld devices to armbands.
Body GlideUnless built like an elite runner, chances are the beginner will benefit from body glide, which is a petroleum jelly-like product that minimizes rubbing and chafing of skin and/or clothing. Commonly used on feet, thighs, or underarms, body glide reduces friction to make running more comfortable.
Properly fitting sports braJust as no one should skimp on running shoes, women should not compromise when choosing a well-fitting sports bra. Look for sweat-wicking fabrics; comfortable shoulder straps that do not dig into skin; a wide band, proper compression level, and overall comfort.