Here’s our quick and dirty list of essentials for training and race day.
Written by: Cielestia Calbay
So, you’ve signed up for your first big race. Now what? It’s time to gear up and bust out that credit card. Whether you’re training for your first 5K or taking on your 10th marathon, running is a great sport because it doesn’t involve a lot of expensive gear. With just a few key items, even a novice runner can be ready to hit the road.
Here’s our quick and dirty list of essentials for training and race day:
1. Running Shoes
Duh? Maybe, but properly fitted running shoes should be first on your checklist as the right kind of shoes dictate the quality of your runs. It’s best to go to a running-specific shop with some kind of gait analysis service where an expert can match the best shoe to fit your foot shape and running biomechanics.
2. Good Socks
Investing in high-quality shoes is just as important as what you wear inside of them. Wearing low-quality socks can make your new shoes feel awful. When shopping for socks, stay away from cotton because it retains moisture and can cause blisters. Stick to synthetic materials and fibers like polyester and CoolMax to wick away moisture and compression elements at the arches to keep you comfortable. If you’re hitting the trails, wear wool blends to keep out the dirt and debris.
3. Moisture-Wicking Apparel
Just like with your socks, cotton is your worst enemy. Performance and technical fabrics like polyester keep you dry and mesh linings allow your body to “breathe.” Stick to flat-seamed panels to avoid chaffing. As it gets colder, invest in a tight-fitting base layer made from polypropylene, silk or Thermax that keeps you warm and wicks away moisture.
4. Sports Watch
It’s always nice to know how fast or how far you’ve gone. Sports watches allow you to monitor improvement over the course of training by tracking distance, pace, heart rate, and a million other things. A simple, lightweight device with chrono and interval settings is all you really need, but if you want something more technical, GPS-enabled watches map your route and provide waypoints so you can spot the nearest bathroom.
5. Roam Roller
Running can take a heavy toll on your muscles, especially if you develop IT band issues. Sore and tight muscles are common after running and sometimes relieving these ailments require a deep-tissue massage, which aren’t cheap. Enter your new best friend: foam rollers. You put foam rollers, which are about one- to two-feet long, under your troubled spot and roll over it for 10 to 15 seconds.
6. Storage Belt
Some days, you may go out for a 5-miler and come back from a 20-miler. Bottom line, you’ll never know where your runs will take you. A storage belt is ideal for stashing your driver’s license, cell phone or emergency cash. It’s always safe to carry money on you in cases where it starts raining or an injury flares up where you’ll need to take a bus home rather than risk continuing to run.
And there you have it. With the exception of running socks and shoes, which you’ll have to replace often depending on your mileage, most of these items will last for years if taken care of. See you at the finish line!