Spoiler: it’s not that much.
All you need to run is shoes, clothes, and maybe an armband with your phone so you can track it on Runkeeper ;) It sounds simple, but you also have the option to include compression attire, moisture wicking bands, and every technical gadget known to man. The sheer amount of running STUFF out there can be overwhelming for the everyday runner. It can also provide one more excuse not to get out there and run: “I don’t have high-tech, NASA-quality wicking shorts, guess I’ll skip this run.” Um, try again.
For the sake of keeping things simple, here are our thoughts on what you should actually put on before you get out there!
Starting from the ground up….Feet
You need shoes. There has been a lot of controversy over the years on what the perfect shoe for you might be! If you want to read up on minimalist footwear vs. padding and support feel free. I am going to stick to the basics. Your shoes should be comfortable. They should be the right size. You should be able to run in them without feeling foot or ankle pain. Choosing your running shoes is not always easy but it does not have to be rocket science!
You may also have heard that barefoot running is great, but that requires some careful training before you can go barefoot, so let’s shy away from that one.
There are special socks out there to keep your feet dry, blister free, and smelling like daisies! I would recommend wearing some sort of sock so your shoes don’t smell too terrible and your feet don’t get blisters. Beyond that, you don’t have to get too fancy.
I’m going to go ahead and say this one is required. It can be remarkably challenging to find running shorts and pants that don’t fall down, ride up, bunch up, or only come in some terrible shade of puke yellow. Everyone is different. Shop around and find something comfortable. No amount of jumping around in a dressing room to simulate running is too much!
Most T-shirts they give out at races are simple cotton. It might not be the coolest but it works. Wear a shirt that is right for the weather. Moisture wicking, lightweight, or fancy-dancy is great, but also tends to smell more when you finish.
You might have heard that Runkeeper just opened an awesome new store with some fun shirts. Check them out here.
Men, you can probably skip this one, but more than 50% of runners in America are women, and women who run wear sports bras. This is one place where I will say get a good one and take good care of it. The band needs to be tight enough to avoid chafing. Most sports bras should not be put in the dryer or they will wear out really fast!
This one is debatable. There are watches to track your distance, pedometers to track your steps, heart rate monitors, bluetooth headphones, music players, and perhaps best of all, phones that do it all! Twenty years ago almost none of it existed and people still ran. That being said, I run with gadgets and feel no shame. Take your pick, mix it up, but if you go on vacation and forget everything you can still run!!
One of the reasons running is so popular and universal is it requires so little. You don’t need a gym membership, expensive equipment, or anybody but yourself. You can run from home, from work, on vacation, or stranded on a deserted island surrounded by tigers. Find the equipment that turns you into the happiest runner you can be, but don’t feel too tied to the “stuff.” After all, all you really need is shoes and clothes.