If you are just starting a running or walking routine, coming back from a long break, or just looking to mix it up a bit, check out my favorite running gear for beginners and see what running accessories you just might need to add for more comfort.
LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE IN YOUR FAVORITE PODCAST APP
Heads up: Links on this page might be affiliate links. Well what the heck is that? It means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I would make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Yay for both of us!
Yall, here in Virginia it is getting NICE outside! We have reached the perfect training season around here. It’s warm but manageable in the mornings, a little toasty in the afternoons, and beautifully muggy & buggy in the evenings.
It’s eat outside kind of weather.
It’s play in the hose weather.
I am totally hoping it’s this season that is making you feel super motivated to get outside, feel that sunshine on your face (or gloriously cleansing rain, if that’s the scoop in your neck of the woods) get moving, and work out all that tension.
Even if you live in an area where the best plan is to stay inside and hit the treadmill or do a video workout, maybe just opening the windows could feel so good for the soul right now.
In the new Facebook group that is growing for our community of brave, encouraging, active women, dear athletes have been sharing plans that have been, well let’s call it redirected because of the covid crisis, and race plans for the year that we are all hoping still happen.
By the way, we would love for you to join us! Come on over to We Are Finding Finish Lines on Facebook and introduce yourself!
We also have some new friends who are starting a new walking, running, or interval routine and some who are coming back after a long break.
After a brief chat about how critical sock selection can be to enjoying the run, especially when it’s hot and our feet get nice and sweaty and potentially blister-y, I got thinking that right now might be the perfect time to go over some running gear for beginners that can take your running or walking comfort game to the next level.
No running gear analysis paralysis
Now, do NOT feel like you need to Amazon and buy allllll of the things today to get started. Or even worse, I’m begging you not to get yourself stuck in a gear analysis paralysis.
You might know this trap, right?
You think, “Well, running is miserable right now. If only I had XYZ” or it’s even nastier cousin, “If only I were taller, thinner, tanner,” well THEN I could be a runner who loves running.
All of that is false.
You don’t need anything other than a body to start.
Do you have that?
The one you have right now will be perfect. Meredith Atwood, one of my favorite podcasters, would call getting stuck in a cycle of research and buying instead of shopping, Nonsense. (Check out more about nonsense with Meredith Atwood here!)
Bake the cake. then frost it.
These things are like frosting on the cake. You can do a full overhaul of all of your gear, but if you never bake the cake, it’s just a tub of frosting.
Yall…I am not a frosting person. I leave that mess right on the plate.
Likewise, you can have a wonderful, multiple layer cake that just isn’t all that fun to eat. You can be a purist runner in barefeet and noodie kazoodie on your treadmill, I suppose if that’s your thing.
I’m going to be over here, locked down in my favorite sports bra and lubed up feet, smiling from ear to ear as I head on down the road.
If you want to join in the crew of happy runners, here are some of my hard learned tips.
Let’s work our way up from the feet, shall we?
First, your shoes.
Your running shoes are so important. Now that you are a runner or a walker (own it!) your days of strolling into the store and picking out the pretty pair are limited.
Sure, you can still do that, but they likely won’t be your active running shoes!
The best thing you can do for yourself is to schlep on over to the local running store and have the folks there evaluate your gait.
Yes, it can be super intimidating. I know. Trust me…I know!
In episode 3, I talked with Angie about her experience rolling into the running store for the first time. If you need a pep talk, check that out!
We naturally fall into one of three categories as runners: our feet land and rotate in a neutral gait, we roll too far in or we roll too far out.
For each, there is a style running shoe that is best. If you pick based on the color, you might end up with a stability shoe when you would be best in a neutral. You might end up with achy knees and a sore lower back long before the miles accumulate.
Once you understand your gait, you can always use that information to bargain hunt for the shoes that you like. The guys and gals in a good running store know which shoes are better for sprinters and which are better for distance runners. They can guide you towards more cushioned shoes that are a little heavier or to lighter, or more natural feeling lighter kicks.
A few years ago, I discovered a website called RoadRunnerSports.com. While they do have some local shops with well trained employees, I have found that their online system is fantastic. Your order ships within two hours. Then if you join their VIP program, you can run in the shoes for up to 90 days and get this: send them back if they don’t work for you! I have done this. It is really true.
Sometimes I can find last year’s model of my shoe for a great price.
So this is a great option if you already know which type of shoe works best for you and now you need to do some shopping.
While we are talking shoes, here is a tip I learned the HARD way:
Shoe companies have this ridiculous practice of changing up more than just the colors from season to season. Sometimes they actually change the actual construction of the shoe and it makes your favorite gear completely unusable.
Making a toe box more narrow or adding some rocker plate or whatever insanity they do can absolutely ruin a shoe that you love.
So, what do we do about this? If you can swing it, once you find a pair you like, buy a couple of them!
Otherwise, you can find yourself on the hunt for you new soul-mate shoes more than once a year. That would be crazy making!
Just to emphasize how much the wrong running shoe can throw you off your game, when Mizzuno ahem…upgraded from the Wave Inspire 14 to the 15, they changed several parts of the shoe that I loved. I had been through multiple pair of my trusty, kinda ugly gray and purple kicks. When they graduated to the 15, I. Was. Miserable.
We are talking numb toes and sore arches.
So I went on a mission to find something new…and ended with a tear in my MTP (the joint in your second toe) and three months in a boot. Not. Great.
0/10. Do not reccommend.
Expect to wear your running shoes for somewhere between 150 and 300 miles, depending on the construction of the shoe, your weight and gait, and the weather you run in.
So yes, running sneakers can get expensive. Luckily, this is one of the only real frequently recurring expenses for running.
This one feels a little less obvious, but your socks are almost as important as the sneaks!
Now the bad news is that you might need to go through little trial and error to figure out what works best for you.
You might like ultra thin or anywhere on the spectrum up to padded bottoms.
What is super important is that you just say no to cotton. Heck no. Hard No. Absolutely not.
Those white hanes her way socks that have treated you so well for so many years just don’t get to join you for training.
Thank you for your services, socks, It’s not me. It’s you.
It’s all about the quick drying, sweat wicking, arch supporting tech socks for you, friend.
A couple of brands that I love are Balega, and feetures, which you can find at any running store for sure. Unless I am running in rain hard enough to soak the feet, both of these brands have kept my feet blister free for long runs as far as I take them.
Many runners prefer the feeling of wool against their skin. You can check out Bombas or Smartwool socks if that is more your style. My husband is a wool guy, but I think that might be because he won a pair at a race. He has been hooked since.
If you are still blistering even after making the jump to tech fabrics, you might need to make the leap to toe socks. Yes, they look crazy, but my friends that need them say they will never go back.
The biggest name in these types of crazy socks is Injinji.
Finally, you know that website I was just telling you about, RoadRunnerSports? Well they actually have their own brand of socks that are less expensive than the big names, and my feet can’t tell the difference. So if you want to save a few bucks on a three pack, check those out!
Compression socks and sleeves are a trendy topic in the running world.
Their claim is that they improve circulation and alleviate fatigue, so they should be great for runners. Anecdotally, they do seem to make running more comfortable for long distances if you are prone to lower leg swelling.
The science is much clearer to support that compression gear can aid in recovery.
So while I can’t give compression a full throated endorsement for during your run, I do love to sleep in graduated compression socks the night after a very long run. There is a big difference in how my legs feel the next day when I do.
I guess the best I can say for compression socks for a long run is give them a try! Maybe they will keep you feeling fresh for longer. It’s unlikely they will hurt.
Now, when you go to a race weekend and see folks walking around in compression gear BEFORE the race, I consider that more of a fashion statement, and that’s totally cool!
But compression socks are not inexpensive. So please just don’t feel like you need several pair of these unless you score a major deal or you really want them for your race outfit.
Running gear for beginners: the bottoms
Alright, let’s talk about what we are wearing on the bootay.
There are few things more annoying than running bottoms that do the distracting things. Those are: slipping down and showing off the upper butt region, riding up and bunching in the lady bits area, and horrific chafing on the inner thigh region.
Nobody wants to try to run down the street tugging on the bottoms. This is not a life you have to live.
I know pictures on the internet might have you convinced that running in some loose, flowing shorts is a great time.
I don’t know a single actual human woman that experiences joy running in those shorts.
Think tight. Second skin is what we are going for here.
A caution against my fashion in running gear…and always
Ok, I should pause and tell you, dear athletes, that I am not a fashionista. I wish I had that desire, but I don’t. I never know what matches. I don’t know how to plan out lines. I go for comfort, and I like every top in my closet to sorta work with every bottom.
I like things that will last forever. See my shoe discussion above.
I want to find something that works and then I dont want to mess with it anymore.
So with that said, my most running bottoms are made by a company now called Bolder Athletics. They used to be called Sparkle Skirts.
They have tight shorts that come a good distance down the legs covered by a skirt. Each leg has a deep pocket. Then there is a zipped pocket in the waist band.
They come in a couple different styles with different lengths and fullness of the skirt and (and this might be my favorite part!) they run from 3xs to 3xl! This company, started in Florida, can outfit just about everyone.
I love them because I pop that sucker on and it does. Not. move. At all. The legs don’t creep, the waist doesn’t fall. Nothing. It. Just. Works.
Now, I don’t think they are actually the cutest things in the whole world. I actually felt silly when I first put it on.
But I feel so much more comfortable being fully covered in case something goes wrong and I am miles from the house (weak bladder, anyone?) and the pockets are the jam.
Finally, I love them because I bought most few that I have (and I know people who have tens of these things!) in 2014 and 2015. I wear each of them about once/week, sometimes more. I wash them in the machine and hang dry. And I don’t have a single loose stitch or stretched pocket on any of them. They look exactly like the day that I bought them.
They just work.
I can’t say enough about them.
People also love Lululemon capris for running, if you’d rather not go the skirt route.
You can also normally find some good bottoms at places like Marshalls and TJ Max, just know that sometimes these unknowns could last you three wears or three years. If you are an adventurous type, go for it!
I’m not going to talk much about shirts, because as long as you are dealing with a sweat wicking fabric, they are all pretty much the same, in my experience.Free Shipping on Most Orders Over $25
But bras! This is important.
Sports bras work in two ways: compression and encapsulation.
You can do the full uniboob squeeze or more of a cup experience.
As a mom who proudly nursed one of my two small humans, I need all the help I can get, and I normally go with compression.
I have some $4 old navy bras that have worked for me for 5 years that still hold everything together that I love. My favorite, though, are made my Brooks. They used to be called Moving Comfort, but they were bought out by the shoe company. Luckily the quality stayed the same.
What I’d look for is adujstability. I like the kind that allow you to adjust the band and the shoulder straps. Also, a wide band at the bottom is key to avoiding that digging and chafing that can sometimes happen in the underboob areas on sweaty days.
I’ve heard great things about the fit of Victoria’s Secret sports bras, but I have also heard far too many times that they don’t last all that long before they get a little worn out.
ALL THE LITTLE EXTRAS
Now that we have covered the major things, let’s talk extras.
hat, visor, & sunglasses are all critical running gear for beginners
You must have a hat or a visor and great sunglasses. I use them not only to keep the sun out of my face and avoid the extra tension of squinty eyes for hours, but to keep my hair from my face! I can’t even tell you how annoyed I get when I have a floppy hair hanging down into my eyes.
This will not do.
My favorite hats and visors are far and away made by headsweats. They have a hand above the eyebrows that help keep some sweatbeads from running down. Not all. They don’t work miracles. But they are fantastic.
I wear rx glasses, so I wear rx sunglasses. For running, I have a pair of transitions lenses because races and training often start in the dark and end in the daylight or the opposite. Are they cute?
But they work under my helmet, they don’t fog, and they don’t slip.
In recent years Rudy Project has made much better looking options. But I am a cheapskate and like I said, when something works, I leave it alone.
If you don’t need a prescription, check out Goodr Sunglasses! My friends say that they don’t bounce or slip, and they are definitely very cute.
Just be sure to bring a hat when you go shopping. You don’t want to get a pair of big fancy sunglasses that will bump up against your hat and then not be able to wear the combo.
Alright apple watch devotees, don’t @ me, but a dedicated GPS watch like Garmin, kind of the gold standard, will make your life so much easier.
You can run intervals through it that will either beep or vibrate or both, the battery lasts forever and ever on the newer models, you can sync it to you trainingpeaks or strava or whatever accounts you use to track your progress, many models can do a livetrack so your friends or family can track you and know where you are in an emergency, and they look pretty cool too.
They now even have Garmin pay for touchless payment. That’s cool if you are out on a long run and need to stop for another drink.
When it comes to your hydration options for running gear, you can really go with a handheld water bottle, a waist water belt, or a hydration pack.
Without a doubt my favorite water belt is made by Fitletic. I discovered it a runDisney race expo and fell in love! It has two small bottles, with the option to add more, and can normally hold a phone.
The important part is that it doesn’t move at all! There is no bouncing and no riding up your waist.
I also love the water vests I have used from Nathan. That is a company that makes specific running gear, so it’s really tested and ready to work.
TIP: to keep your water pack from feeling sloshy or bouncy on your back, make sure to lift the bladder upside down over your head after you fill it, and suck all the air out through the tube. TA-DA! No slosh!
Even though this is at the end, I feel like this is as critical as the discussion of running shoes!
You need to be ready to lube up all the areas that are at risk of chafing!
I like both Body Glide and Chamois BUTT-R.
Rub that mess all over your heels, the private regions, in your armpits, under your bra band, and everywhere else you can think of that might rub. There is no danger in over-lubricating here, but there is misery in missing a spot!
DID I MISS ANY CRITICAL RUNNING GEAR FOR BEGINNERS? IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU ALWAYS SHARE WITH PEOPLE WHEN YOU LEARN THEY ARE STARTING TO RUN THAT YOU THINK SHOULD BE ADDED? LEAVE ME A COMMENT AND LET ME KNOW!
Finding Finish Lines is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.