Unlike my Muay Thai kickboxing obsession (not cheap!), I assumed that running would be a relatively inexpensive sport. Sneakers can be pricey, but other than that, what else could you possibly need?
Oh, how wrong I was. Since I started running more seriously, I’ve discovered just how much you need to pound the pavement, from an ample supply of sports bras (lest you do laundry every single day) to gadgets to keep track of pace and distance.
Here are some of my favorite goodies, and other running essentials.
1.) Running Wardrobe
I have Kohls to thanks for my abundant wardrobe of running tanks, capris, shorts, jackets, pull-overs, and sport bras. I’ve pretty much become a walking billboard for FILA, which is the only brand I’ve found thus far that always fits me like a glove and, most importantly, is relatively affordable…especially when I have a coupon!
Though they’re not a sports company, per se’, I actually like Lily of France sports bras (also from Kohls); call me crazy, but I’m not a fan of uni-boob, so instead of the ones that squish everything down and make me look like a 10-year-old boy, I prefer bras like these.
I have amassed more running clothes, with tanks in every color of the rainbow — and pants to match — than I care to admit. Yet, somehow, I’m still doing more laundry than I have in my life! My workout wardrobe practically exceeds my regular wardrobe now…and I kind of love it.
As a bonus, it wasn’t until I upgraded my workout wear from $5 cotton tanks from Walmart that I started to feel like a “real runner.” There’s definitely something to be said for dressing the part!
I can’t believe I just discovered these! For so long, I was jamming everything from keys to money to snacks into my bra (super cozy, by the way), or simply neglecting to take my cell phone with me on runs (never a good idea), because I had nowhere to store my essentials when on-the-go. After Googling around for a solution to my problem, a blog by 30 Something Mother Runner turned me on to Spibelts — small personal item belts — and I am officially hooked.
They’re practically microscopic (when I first saw it in person, I thought it was some kind of joke), but they do, in fact, expand to fit quite a bit of stuff — even my clunker of a smartphone. Fortunately, my camera — also on the larger side — fits in there beautifully, so I no longer have to worry about how I’m going to capture all those magical moments when I run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February.
Best of all, it doesn’t bounce, move, or shift at all when I’m running…you can hardly even tell you’re wearing what’s essentially a mini fanny pack (but way cooler). Also, they’re affordable (around $20) and come in lots of different colors and patterns, even polka dots — my fave!
3.) Bondi Band
I recently won two Bondi Bands in a giveaway on Road Runner Girl’s blog, and just tried these out for the first time yesterday. To say I’m a heavy sweater would be an understatement — no matter what the weather’s like, I’m literally dripping wet at the end of a run, and I perspire more than any of the women (and most of the men, for that matter!) in my kickboxing classes. It’s gross. I’ve been wearing my RunDisney hats all summer (I may or may not have ordered all four…), which do have the added benefit of shielding my face from the sun while absorbing excess sweat, but the Bondi Band is truly the answer to my prayers.
It’s essentially a large, thin headband made of sweat-wicking material; like the Spibelt, they come in all sorts of colors and styles, but the best part is that they’re super effective. It covers almost my entire forehead, which means no slipping or re-adjusting, and it was lightweight enough that I didn’t even remember I was wearing it — it’ll fit nicely under my helmet when I’m biking. Best of all, I wore it on a mid-day run on a humid August day, and didn’t get so much as a drop of sweat in my eyes!
I’m ordering more today — and they’re going to be a welcome replacement to the stinky old men’s sweat band I’ve been using for kickboxing class, too! I’ll just have to stick to basic black, though — the karate master would surely kick me out of class for wearing something like these fun and fashionable designs.
Of course, there is no running without sneakers. Well, unless you’re one of those minimalist barefoot runners, I suppose (still can’t get on board with that one). I’m a size 10 wide, so when it comes to choosing running sneakers, it’s basically a matter of finding a store that even carries my size. I rarely have a choice of style or color…I’m lucky to find more than one pair of running sneakers in a wide-width in any given store.
I was wearing Nikes for ages, but finally hauled myself to my local running store for a proper fitting, and it turns out they were doing nothing for my pronation type — or, at least that’s what the sales associate said after watching me stroll around the store in my socks.
They carried precisely one shoe that would accommodate my massive feet, and I’ve been in love with Saucony ever since. I just got these for my birthday!
5.) Garmin Forerunner
This was my first real piece of running gear (other than sneakers). Anyone who has even the slightest interest in tracking their speed and distance — which is pretty much all of us — has to invest in one of these watches. They’re definitely on the pricey side (in the neighborhood of $200), but I’ve been using the 405cX for a few years now with no issues.
Short of counting laps on a track (boring) or timing yourself with stopwatches (tedious), it’s pretty hard to train for any kind of race, whether it’s a 5K or marathon, without tracking your pace and distance…or, even if you’re not training for races, just to keep tabs on your overall improvement. Some of the watches are even compatible with heart rate monitors, for those of us counting our calories in and calories out!
I can’t run without music. So last but certainly not least, I never head out for a run without my iPod. I don’t run in the dark, and I always try to stick to well-populated areas, so I figure it’s okay to jam out while I get my sweat on.
I’m partial to the iPod nano…pretty much because it’s small and has a clip that attaches right to my top, and don’t have to fuss with arm bands.
What are some of your running essentials?