Essential Running Gear for the Beginner Runner

Having the right gear can make or break your running experience when you’re just getting started, and it can be a bit overwhelming to identify what you truly need and where to find it. This guide from Team RunRun coaches and athletes will help you find the essential gear you need to begin running, and to maximize your chances of enjoying the experience from the very start! 

seattle running coach
Coach Andrew O’Connor, Photo: Stephen Matera
  1. A Proper Fitting Pair of Running Shoes

Running is a relatively simple activity when it comes to equipment. The primary piece of gear every runner needs is a good pair of running shoes. There are many types of shoes from numerous brands, which can make shoe shopping an overwhelming endeavor. Coach Megan Smith suggests finding the best shoe fit at a specialty running store where staff are trained to assess your running mechanics and will help fit you for a pair of shoes that compliment the way you run. Alternatively, there are online tools. Check out the Brooks “Shoe Finder” or the “Shoe Dog” from Road Runner Sports. You won’t have the experience of feeling the shoes on your feet, but some good research is the next best option! Get this gear decision correct, and you’re well on your way to starting your running journey successfully! 

  1. Moisture Wicking Socks

Following the theme of taking care of your feet, socks made of synthetic moisture wicking material, like polyester or nylon, will help keep your feet dry and avoid blisters. Socks containing cotton should be avoided because they hold moisture and become abrasive against your skin. Some of my personal favorites are from Darn Tough and Swiftwick.

  1. A Well-Fitting Sports Bra

For female runners, a sports bra that is comfortable and supportive is of equal (or greater) importance to moisture wicking socks. A sports bra that does not fit properly or has seams in high-friction areas can cause discomfort and chafing while running. 

essential running gear
Coach Keith Laverty, Photo: James Holk @Run The Rock 50k
  1. Visibility Safety Gear

Many new runners are venturing out in the dark before or after work. This makes visibility safety equipment, like headlamps and reflective vests, necessary for running safely on roads and trails. Lights and reflective gear allow you to see where you are going and be seen by motorists and other pedestrians. In addition to wearing visibility gear, it is a great idea to plan routes that are well lit, if possible.

  1. Technical Running Apparel

Whether it is shorts, tights, pants, shirts, or jackets, a common theme for essential running apparel is synthetic technical materials like polyester and nylon that wick moisture, help prevent chafing, and enhance breathability for body temperature regulation. It is easy to spend large sums of money on running apparel; however, this is not always necessary to get started. The technology and function in running apparel is relatively unchanging from year to year, making it a great idea to target clearance items from previous year’s models. If you live in a fairly active community, you can often find awesome running apparel at second-hand stops. Buying only seasonally appropriate apparel, like shorts and t-shirts in the summer or tights and jackets in the winter, is a great way to spread out the initial investment in running clothes when you are getting started. 

Running is an amazing life-long sport because you can do it almost anywhere and it takes so little equipment to get started. By making the investment up front to find the essential running gear for beginning your running journey, you will have a much better experience starting off and it will increase your odds of falling in love with running and sticking with the sport.

Maxx Antush is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Coach Maxx, check out his coaching page.