I have been running for long enough now that I have found out there are certain things that I need to run. Here are some of my “necessities.”

  1. Good running shoes. When I first started running, I had a pair of Nike Shox that I ran in and I had terrible knee trouble. After awhile, someone mentioned I might need better shoes, so  I did some research and found Asics Kayano Gel. When I started running in them, my knees quit hurting. I always know when I am ready for a new pair when my ankles start getting a little  tight on runs. This week I was noticing my ankles a bit more, so I decided to start looking for new shoes. Now, the first time I bought shoes, I bought the current year’s “model.” Every subsequent time, I have looked for the best price, which can usually be found on last year’s model. For example, right now, the model is Asics Kayano Gel 18. So I look for 17. Or as in the case today, I found a pair of 16 (which is what I am currently running in) for $59.99. Considering the 18’s are $149.99, that is quite the bargain. (I may have jumped up and down a little.) If you are new to running and haven’t found the right shoe for you, you can visit the shoe finder at runnersworld.com, or better yet, go to a store, like Fleet Feet, and get fitted for your foot and running type. Then look online for last year’s model and the best price.
  2. Good sports bra. (Men – you can skip this one.) One thing I have found about running long distances is I need good support and a bra that doesn’t move, because moving causes chafing and that is unpleasant. Here again, go somewhere (I went to Fleet Feet) and be fitted. Your sports bra may very well be a different size than the bras you wear every day. (Mine is smaller around with a bigger cup size to give me what I need.) I use the Moving Comfort Juno. It is racer back, so it hides well under my racer back tank tops, and it is very comfortable. (Like shoes, bras do get worn out. When you start noticing little issues, it is time for a new one.)
  3. Body Glide. I don’t know what I would do with out Body Glide. It’s purpose is to prevent chafing, which happens when you run long distances. I have both a Body Glide stick, which I use on key places of my body where I know I have a tendency to chafe, and Body Glide liquefied powder, which I use on my feet and between my toes to keep blisters from forming. It has saved me a world of hurt. And I know that because I trained for my first half marathon without even knowing it existed.
  4. Good socks. I learned early on that regular socks just don’t work for me to run long distances in. I get blisters. They get wet and stay that way. It’s just not pretty. And then I found Balega Hidden Comfort socks. They are amazing. So soft. So comfortable. If I run through a puddle, my feet are dry in seconds, due to their moisture wicking ability. (Like shoes, socks do wear out, so I replace my socks about twice a year.)
  5. SpiBelt. Spi stands for small personal item. This belt has a little pocket that expands based on what you put in it. I carry my inhaler and phone with me at all times. And the beauty of this little belt is that it doesn’t bounce around while I am running. Which is a big deal. For races, I have toggles that hold my race number (which makes it easier to dress in layers and always have my race bib showing), and there is room in it to put energy chews, kleenex, or whatever small thing I might want to carry with me.
  6. Headlight. I know. It is cheesy and I am sure I look funny, but I do most of my running very early in the morning when it is dark outside. My headlight (literally, a light on a stretchy band that I wear around my head) has probably saved my life more than I care to admit. When you are running (or walking) in the dark, you have to make yourself seen. The reflective patches on our shoes isn’t enough. So the headlight it is. I have a blinky red light I have worn on the back of my Spibelt, too, but the bouncing of running makes the battery come away from the contacts and it quits working. As soon as I figure out how to keep it from doing that, I’ll be wearing it again.

There are more things that I like (quality moisture-wicking clothes, something to cover my ears when it is cold, my Garmin watch to track time and distance, etc.), but these are the six things that I won’t do a run without. They are the most important pieces of gear that I have, and I think that they make a huge difference in my motivation to run. Who wants to run when your knees hurt, you’re getting blisters, you have to carry your phone, and your are constantly dodging cars that can’t see you, and then you have chafed areas after your run that make you miserable for the next few days. Not me. It is important to find the things that work for you so you have fewer and fewer reasons to avoid doing what you know you need to do.

What are the pieces of gear for your exercise of choice that you can’t do without?