I’m really excited about this week’s post because it has to do with shopping for your running gear. Keep in mind, I am a bargain shopper and love it when I score a great deal so I’ll include some money saving tips too!
Since I had never run before, I needed EVERYTHING. And I mean everything…Shoes, socks, clothes, music, apps, bras, a hat, sunglasses, a fanny pack (are they still called fanny packs, or is that totally ‘80’s?), a watch, and so on. I started with nothing and by the time I ran my first half marathon, I had the perfect selection of gear that helped me cross the finish line.
Here are the prized possessions I purchased during my half marathon training journey:
- SHOES – First things first…You need real running shoes. The step aerobic shoes that are in your closet will not do. When I bought my first pair of running shoes, I did everything I should not have done. I went to a big sports outlet type store and picked out a pair of running shoes because they were deeply discounted ($69) and they seemed to feel good. I didn’t ask for help, didn’t research the shoes, I just bought them and ran a half marathon in them. Thankfully, it all worked out, but if I had to do it all over again (which I did after the half), I would go to a running store and have the pros assess my situation. After the half, I rewarded myself with new pair of running shoes. This time I did it the right way…I went to a local running store and had the sales rep analyze my feet, my running and what shoe would work best for me. I ended up paying more money on my second pair of shoes ($110) but it was money well spent. The pros informed me that I actually needed shoes that were one half size larger than what I had purchased on my own! Good info to know! Go with the pros on this purchase. Here’s a great article from about.com on how to buy the right running shoes.
- SPORTS BRAS (guys, you can skip this part) – The sports bra is the other item I would not skimp on. Keep the girls comfy, ladies. Like I said, I love a great deal, but some things are worth the extra money. The running bra that I found to be amazing and worked well for me was by Moving Comfort. The style I picked was Fiona ($46). I tried some cheaper brands that I found at T.J. Maxx but they did not do the job like the Moving Comfort bra did. There were support issues, chafing issues, comfort issues, etc. Many running stores will carry the Moving Comfort brand and the sales reps should be well educated on the various styles and what will work for you…don’t be afraid to pick their brains!
- RUNNING SHORTS – OK, here’s where I did some bargain shopping. I bought my shorts from the aforementioned T.J. Maxx because they have a crazy selection at decent prices. You’ll need quite a few pairs of shorts so try out different styles to see what works for you. There’s the underwear-built-into-the-short style, the underwear-not-built-into-the-short style, the lovely spandex short-short, mid-thigh length, capri length and full length. Experiment during your training until you find what works great for you. DO NOT (I repeat DO NOT) experiment the day of the half marathon. On that day, stick with what you know works!!! Trust me!
- RUNNING SHIRTS – This is an item you need to pay close attention to because there is a thing called ‘wicking’. Moisture wicking material allows moisture to evaporate quickly. When you run, you sweat (or you should anyway). When you sweat, your shirt gets wet. Wet is not good when running, it can cause chafing. Chafing is bad and causes skin irritation. Skin irritation is bad because it’s distracting and painful. Moral of the story: Buy moisture wicking shirts (and shorts and socks for that matter). The shirt I found that I LOVE and wore during the half marathon was the Icebreaker GT 150 Ultralite which is made from Merino wool. It’s a soft, comfortable material that keeps you cool when it’s warm and keeps you warm when it’s cool. It’s the best! I bought it from Title Nine but waited for it to go on sale because full price ($78 dollars or so) was out of my price range. At the end of summer when it was 50% off, I bought two…SCORE!
- RUNNING SOCKS – Seems weird but not all socks are created equal. Buy some socks that are made for runners. That would be a lovely moisture wicking sock. I bought an expensive pair of running socks that I ended up hating and then I bought a 12 pack of running socks from Costco that I ended up loving. So, more expensive is not always the best bet when it comes to socks. Again, try out different socks and stick with what works for you. Just don’t go with 100% cotton – there’s no moisture wicking going on with cotton and you don’t want to run with wet socks…yuck.
- HAT – Buy a hat for running. Personally, I like to wear a hat to protect my face from the sun. I grew up on the beaches of California and have had some skin cancer to prove it. So, I now wear a hat all summer long when outdoors. I know I sound like a broken record but you don’t want to wear your non-running cap because you will…say it with me…SWEAT. A specially made running cap/hat (with lots of tiny holes in the cap) will allow your head to breathe. You want your head to breathe, trust me.
- OTHER STUFF – Have a pair of light-weight sunglasses that won’t slip down your nose when you SWEAT. Make sure you have a running belt to hold your water and other essentials like snacks, tissue, chapstick and car key. My absolute favorite is the iFitness brand which is made of neoprene so there is no slipping around with this bad boy. I added 2 water bottle holders and I also bought the holder for my iPhone and I was ready to freakin’ rock and roll on half marathon day. I needed a watch to time myself. I did Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method so I wanted to keep track of my time. Music is very important to me while I run so I searched my CD collection for some great running songs and also downloaded some songs that I would normally not download (Michael Jackson, Eminem, Kelly Clarkson, FloRida to name a few). Running is a great way to expand your music collection!
(photos from iFitnessinc.com)
My best advice when acquiring your gear is to try out different things during your training and when you find something that works, STICK WITH IT and use/wear it during your half marathon. Do NOT try something new on your race day. Only go with what you know! Don’t buy a super cute, never worn before outfit because you want to look adorable crossing the finish line. Wear what has proven to work during your training…ESPECIALLY your long runs!
Next post will be about the mental stuff. This will be deep folks!