Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Running Starter Kit

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When Dan started getting interested in running, he immediately started asking me about all the things he would need.  Did he need a heart rate monitor?  What about special socks?  Are regular gym shorts OK to run in?

As a few of my other friends started running and asking me the same question, I thought it would be useful to others to come up with a guide of a "Running Starter Kit".  These are the items that I think are useful, if not necessary, for a runner who's starting their running journey.  People may say that running is a cheap sport, but unless you're running in cotton tee shirts and bargain shoes (which is completely fine!!), there's a big up-front cost!
Running Starter Kit

I'll be sharing my choices for a starting kit from clothes to accessories, from summer to winter and everything in between.  I also break it down into a "save" and "splurge" version and offer my opinion on what's worth a splurge, and where I save money.  I hope you enjoy this and find it helpful!  I would also love to hear what all my experienced runners out there think!

Tops

Sports Bra

For running, you need a high-impact sports bra.  This is definitely an article of clothing that you don't want to scrimp on, because that can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, as well as make you feel insecure if you pick the wrong type of bra.  Make sure that it isn't too loose or tight, you can move freely without chafing at all, and it has enough coverage and padding to make you feel comfortable.

Target has excellent sports bras for a really reasonable price.  I have multiple styles that are all durable and comfortable. (P.S. The C9 bras are all 50% off this week!)
Brooks recently bought Moving Comfort, which makes really high-quality sports bras.  They have great designs that are both feminine and functional.  Their site also has a Sports Bra finder so you can get the perfect one!

Short Sleeve Top

Short Sleeve tops are a main part of my running wardrobe.  I wear them more often than any other kind of top, because they work well in the heat as well as slightly cooler days.  I usually look for a top that is fitted but not too tight (or I find that it rides up while I'm running).  For warm days, I prefer light weight tops with mesh or ventilation in the back.  For cooler days I look for a heavier material that is slightly longer to cover more of my core.  
Running short sleeve save or splurge

My favorite place to shop for cheap running gear is at the outlets.  I always stop in the Under Armour store to pick up super cheap tops (usually under $10).
It's no secret that Lulu makes really cute workout clothes that hold up really well through years of use.  I really like the swiftly tops, which are flattering and really comfortable.  Plus, they're constantly coming out with new colors and patterns in this style!

Long Sleeve Top

I haven't purchased many long sleeve tops, because most races (particularly longer distances) give them with registration.  It is nice to have a few options for layering under jackets or vests, or even wearing out and about!  There are so many cute options available in different price ranges, so getting a good quality top can be a great investment piece.

Most of my tops are from Target, and I find their quality is really high for such a low price.  Their C9 line seems to go on sale really frequently as well!
Splurge: Athleta Fastest Track Top
Athleta makes some amazing workout gear and constantly has terrific sales, which makes the line much more affordable.  This top features ruching on the front and back to camouflage trouble areas and rubber edges to keep it from riding up!

Light Weight Jacket

Getting a good quality jacket for running can be a great investment piece.  I not only wear my jacket in most conditions from a windy, cool morning to a heavy downpour and everything in between, but I also wear it outside of working out.  Spending a bit of extra money in this category helps in the long run, so you're not soaking wet from a "water proof jacket" or repurchasing when it rips unexpectedly.  I like to get a jacket that is lined with mesh to keep you dry and warm!

Save: Nike Impossibly Light Jacket
I would recommend checking out Marshalls or TJ Maxx to find great quality running jackets!  I actually purchased a New Balance jacket before my trip to Costa Rica a few years ago, and still wear the jacket weekly for both running and to work.  I got it for under $20, so make sure you stop there first!  This jacket from Nike is a great choice for slightly more money- however it is super lightweight and can be folded into its own pocket and worn on the wrist if you get too warm on your run!
Splurge: Lululemon Go the Distance Jacket
Jennifer recommends this jacket and says that the material keeps you warm and dry (and also says to stay away from the Brooks LSD Jacket!  Noted!).  Plus, who can resist that gorgeous pattern?

Vest

Running in a vest is my newest winter obsession.  Most of the time, it's not cold enough for a full jacket, but a long sleeve shirt is too chilly.  Keeping your core warm is a necessity when the temperature drops, so adding a vest to your collection is (in my opinion) a wise choice.  Make sure you get one that will keep you dry in case it snows or rains (so no cheap fleece vest, please!) and you'll be comfortable all winter long.
Last year I picked up a vest at Columbia's outlet store, and I've been loving it for runs.  Even though it wasn't marketed for running, it was comfortable and kept me warm and dry in the winter.
Nike always makes amazing vests that are a great mixture of lightweight yet really warm.  This vest is down-filled and has ventilation to keep you comfortable, but only weighs a few ounces so you won't feel weighed down.  I'm also lusting over the reflective version!

Bottoms

Capris

The majority of the year, I'm running in capris.  Every runner has different preferences, but I always feel comfortable wearing crops unless it's over 80 or below 40 - and in those instances I might even run on an indoor track or treadmill!  The majority of my bottoms are in this category, and have lots of recommendations.  I don't really wear shorts that often, so I thought that for a beginner runner, it would be a better idea to pick up a good quality pair of capris!   

SaveC9 Champion Women's Advanced Performance Capri
My all-time favorite pair of capris are from Target (what a surprise).  They are comfortable and also flattering.  They hold up really well through runs and have stayed in great shape through many trips in the washing machine.
Splurge: Calia Women's Essential Printed Tight Fit Capris
Carrie Underwood's athletic brand is full of feminine prints and great looking clothes that are perfect for running on the treadmill or running around town!  

Tights

Once the temperature dips, I reach for my trusty full-length tights.  It can be tricky to find the right pair for yourself- some people prefer yoga-type pants while others like it to be compressive and tight all the way to the feet.  I like a pair that is tight and fitted, but not overly compressive, and has at least one pocket.  In the cold, I also love wearing fleece-lined pants to stay nice and warm!

Save: Old Navy Running Tights
Old Navy makes some amazing athletic gear, and these pants are no exception!  They feature a few pockets, including a big zippered one on the hip.
Splurge: Lululemon Toasty Tech Tights
These pants come on recommendation from Suzanne, who says that the fleecy interior is soft and warm.  I also love all the pockets in the pants to store keys, a phone or gels.

Other

Socks

It is really important to get a comfortable pair of socks in a lightweight material, otherwise you could get very painful blisters.  I like wearing socks with a bit of cushion and a raised back so that they don't slip down into my shoes.  My favorite brand is Balega for every day socks, and Pro Compression for recovery after longer or harder runs.

Gloves

I've been getting gloves in race bags a lot recently, so I usually just grab those when I need a pair for running.  I have get cold hands, but they always seem to warm up about a mile into a run.  I usually just pick up cheap gloves from Target (usually in the dollar section), but most companies offer more athletic, running-specific gloves (Brooks and Saucony for instance).

Hat or Headband

I'm not really a hat person, so when it's cold out I always bring out a headband.  I find them more comfortable, and I can avoid getting hat hair!  My favorite headband is from Target, but there are cuter options available from SauconyNike, or Old Navy.  When the weather is too frigid, I prefer wearing huge fleece-lined beanie hats- particularly my Steelers one!


Shoes

Getting the correct pair of shoes is a huge part of starting out running on (literally) the right foot.  I can't suggest a "one shoe fits all" for a beginner runner, so my advice is to start at your local running store and have them help you pick out the correct shoe for your stride, goals and weight.  Make sure you don't pick a shoe based on what is the prettiest or what the winner of Boston wore- pick what works best for your feet!  In Pittsburgh, I recommend going to True Runner, Elite Runners and Walkers or Fleet Feet!


Accessories

Armband

If you're a runner who enjoys listening to music or podcasts on a run, an armband is a must!  There are so many different styles for every phone imaginable.  I prefer a sports band that lies flat on my arm, so I don't feel it flopping around or have any extra bulk- like this one from Belkin.

Headphones

My favorite headphones for running are Yurbuds.  They are really comfortable in your ears, and have never slipped or fallen out when I run.   They come in tons of different colors and options, and mine have lasted years without any issues!

Road ID

It's always a good idea to have some type of ID when you're going to be out running, particularly if you have any previous health problems.  Putting down basic information and allergies could end up saving your life!  Road IDs are sold for the wrist, neck, added to a Fitbit, or on shoe laces.


There you have it!  These are the products that I think are essential for a new runner.  Of course, this may vary depending on where you live, how involved you want to get in running, and your preferences.

One thing that I don't have listed is a running/GPS watch.  While I think these are great to have, they are a bit of an investment (think $100+) and not completely necessary.  There are tons of apps that track runs if you're interested in timing yourself, or you can just go out and enjoy the run and not worry about time!


What do you think are "essentials" for a new runner?
Are there any traditional running items that you don't think are necessities (like a GPS watch for me?)

linking up with Tuesdays on the Run, Amanda and Jill

43 comments:

  1. I am a little late this year with my workout essentials post! It's been on my list to get to! I went into the Athleta the other day but have yet to buy anything there, I get so confused and unsure if I will love it as much as Lululemon. I have learned over the last few years that my workout clothes are worth spending on, I just buy less pieces or go for the sale colors to save money.

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    1. Ohh I'll have to check out some of your past posts! I love reading other people's "essentials". I haven't bought anything from Athleta yet, but I've always been impressed with their quality! I'll have to pick some stuff up for a review during their next sale!

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  2. Great job on this, Gretchen! I love it! I couldn't agree with you more on the importance of sports bras. I love moving comfort and have had a couple versions of the hot shot. Of course I wanted all of the "splurge" options. I am so much more attracted to running clothes than I am regular or going out clothes, it's a problem!

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    1. Thank you so much Margaret! None of my "splurge" options are horribly overpriced, so I see no problem with spending a bit more on something important to you!! Trust me..I buy 10x's more workout clothes than work clothes, and pretty much 0 going out clothes. It's horrible.

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  3. Great suggestions- I'm sharing this one with a new runner!

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  4. Even though I don't run, I definitely do plenty of high impact cardio and my Champion sports bras from Target work great! I also love that long sleeve top from Athleta and could see myself wearing that to/from my other workouts. :)
    Gina || On the Daily Express

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    1. They are seriously the best! And now I want the Athleta top too...lots of window shopping for this post :)

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  5. I didn't buy a GPS watch until this year. I definitely agree that it is not an essential (though, I will easily admit that I do like having one!). I also didn't run with my phone, just a cheap, basic watch to time my run and a pre-mapped out route so I would know my distance.

    Thanks for linking to that review of the Toasty tech tights...I've been eying them up!

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    1. Good to hear!! And I'm glad you like the review..she has one of my favorite blogs :)

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  6. It's a great list, and I'd add body glide, just in case. I have a Oiselle long-sleeve shirt on my Christmas list to have more running shirts, and it's got thumb holes.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion! I actually have never used body glide! Luckily I never have problem with chafing or blisters..knock on wood.

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  7. This is a fantastic guide for new runners, especially now that the weather is getting colder! I have a lot of C9/Champion and Old Navy stuff because it's so affordable.

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    1. Thank you Janelle! They have some great stuff for sure.

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  8. I can't remember if I told you this yet but I have never owned a GPS watch! And I get a lot of my stuff from Target too. I have two pairs of Lulu running tights that I have had since 2009. They're just starting to tear a bit at the seams. Old Navy is good too!

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    1. Yes you did! That's one reason why I wanted to add that as a non-essential :) I've heard that Lulu will always replaced ripping clothes so I would stop by and see if they can help you. For that much money they have to back it up!

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  9. Running definitely is not a cheap sport. When I first started running I would run in cotton everything not knowing any different. Boy how things have changed.

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    1. Same here! I cringe looking at old pictures..

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  10. i dont run in pants its way to hot in houston i run in shorts with biker shorts underneath for chaffing. great list though i think you covered everything!!

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    1. Great point..definitely depends on where you live! For us northerners most of the time we can get away with capris or long pants. I don't own a ton of shorts but that's an essential for you!

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  11. i have a super small chest so i buy pretty cheap sports bras and they work fabulously. i have tried fancier ones, with cups and stuff... but my small chest doesn't even fill them so it hurts hahaha.
    i don't have any gloves, i hate running in hats / headbands lol. i also don't like arm bands. i prefer capris as well! i like long pants when it's cold, but i haven't found the perfect pair like i have with my capris. i also prefer thank tops over short sleeves. i think the best thing for new runners are to find what works, you know? like i tried a zillion hats / headbands before i realised i just plain hated them and just because all the running magazines and websites said i 'needed' them, i didn't, you know? anywho. that road id is brilliant!

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    1. i'm so embarrassed - tank tops, not thank tops.

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    2. You're absolutely right- it's all preference and what works for you! I just hate having cold ears and hands when I start out..but after a while they get annoying so I take them off halfway through. Love Thank Tops ;) !!

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  12. The initial cost of things can be a bit overwhelming, so I love how you broke it down into save and splurge items. I've found that some items are worth splurging since they last longer - like good tights or jackets - while others are better to save on. I love the C9 brand in theory, but they never fit me right (I'm tall) so I sometimes pay a bit more for a better fit for my height.

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    1. 100% agree! I would much rather have quality jackets and pants and save on tops..cheap ones are just as good and I have so many freebies that I wear! I have the opposite problem from you and always need my stuff shorter, so Lulu doesn't really work for me unless I want to get the pants hemmed!

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  13. Great running starter kit! I'll share this with my clients. :)

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  14. DROOLING. I really want that Nike vest. I've been thinking about getting one on ebay. But now that I'm not sure about my state of running.... And the Brick Betty bra is a splurge but you'll never regret it!

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    1. ME TOO!! It looks so amazing. I saw it at my local running store and nearly picked it up..till I saw the price!

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  15. I agree a good bra is key. I love my Reebok mesh bras with molded cups. I too am a fan of Yurbuds, although the little covers sometime fall off. Funny, I never run in short sleeve tops (wide shoulders) and prefer sleeveless even if I have to add arm sleeves for warmth. I think we all have our little quirks about clothing. :) I love a fleece vest when it's very cold.

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    1. I got a new pair of Yurbuds recently and I think that they redesigned the covers, because mine haven't slipped off at all! They used to fall off all the time and now they never do. Thanks for the suggestions! I'll check out Reebok bras!

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  16. I pretty much never wear short sleeves or a regular long sleeve shirt. I'm in tank tops most of the time (sometimes with arm warmers) until it's cold and then I wear a half zip. I like the flexibility that the zipper gives for cooling myself off during a run.

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    1. So funny how different everyone is! I have a few tanks but I hardly ever wear them. Same with the half zips! Thank goodness there's options for everyone out there :)

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  17. this is so essential! bookmarking this! thanks for making this for us!

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    1. I really appreciate that Elle! Glad you found this useful :)

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  18. This is a great post for all the new runners out there, well done. I think I forgot to buy myself a bra though when I started, shit!

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    1. Huge mistake Shaun..you should know better!

      ;)

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  19. LOVE that you offered both affordable and splurge-y items. Good to have options!!

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    1. I didn't want to only have one and alienate another group, so I'm glad you liked that part :)

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  20. Oh, fun, fun, fun!! I need to be a better dressed pavement pounder. :)

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    1. Thanks April! I need to step up my game too:)

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  21. Music is not a necessity for me. I def splurge on running bras and tights.

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  22. What a great list! Those items are so versatile for many different types of exercise and they are cute, too. An added bonus!I always splurge on running shorts because I am really picky about the lining :-)

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