How to Start Running | Part 2: Running Gear


I hope some of you will find this series helpful and/or encouraging. I realize this isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. Some people just don't like running, and that's okay. My goal is not to get people who don't want to run to try running. It's for people who want to try it or have tried it but don't think they can do it. I believe anyone can run if they try it. Sometimes you just need to know where to start.

Feel free to leave questions in the comments or even anything you'd like to add! It would be fun to hear from some other runners on this topic. And email me if there's anything you'd like me to cover in upcoming posts. Finally, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for a special running feature that I'm pretty excited about!

Now for Part 2. 

Let's talk running gear.* 
Or not.
Sports bra: Target
Shirt: Nike Outlet Store for $5!
Shorts: Nike Tempo Track
Shoes: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13
I realized as I started writing this post that I might not be the best person to talk about this topic. When it comes to running gear, I'm not very fancy. In fact, I'm the opposite. 

I'm cheap, and in case you hadn't heard, running gear can get expensive.

Luckily, you don't need all that fancy stuff. It's fun to have, but it's not necessary. So for this post, I'm going to stick with the basics. Again, I realize everyone is going to have different ideas of what they like, and at the end of the day it's all personal opinion.


I believe shoes are absolutely the most important. I've seen this to be true not only for me but friends and family who have started running. Shoes are expensive, but if there's only piece of running gear you should not skimp on, it's your shoes. I can tell when it's time for a new pair of shoes. My knees start hurting and I get blisters. If that isn't proof that a good pair of shoes can make all the difference, I don't know what is.

I had a question from a friend who was interested in starting to exercise, but she didn't want to spend the money on "serious" running shoes just yet. Honestly, I think if you're going to be exercising a lot and/or plan on starting to run in the near future, it's worth it to pay the money for a good pair of shoes

If you're just planning on walking, I've heard that Chacos are good shoes/sandals for everyday wear/walking/hiking. I don't personally have a pair, but I know 8540203 people who have them and love them. Of course, it's coming on winter, so maybe you shouldn't invest in these just yet unless you want to be that person wearing socks with sandals. (Don't be that person.)

I buy all my shoes at a store call Best Feet Forward because they have a discount program where you get money on every pair of shoes you buy put toward the purchase of your next pair. A blogging runner friend of mine (Ashley) buys her running shoes off Amazon because she can usually find them cheaper than in a store. 

In any case, when you're buying your first pair of running shoes, I would recommend going to a specialty running store where they can recommend a pair that will fit your gait, height, weight, etc., just to see what they suggest. I think especially for people with extreme arch issues or crazy gaits, it's helpful. However, it's not like if you get the wrong brand, you've ruined everything. The bottom line is to not be intimidated by the fancy running store. In my experience, the salespeople are knowledgable, and it can be helpful to have them suggest a pair of shoes that might be a good fit for you.

For the past year and a half I've been wearing Brooks brand running shoes. Before that I wore Saucony. There's no "right" brand, just what brand is right for you. I do think once you find a brand/shoe type you like to stick with it. There's really no need to change it up if what you have is working.

So that's shoes in a nutshell. I really do think shoes are the biggest/most important part. Anything after that is just a bonus.

--> I talked about my favorite running sports bra here. They can be on the expensive side ($27-54 for the kind I have depending on what color you want), but I used to have major chaffing problems in my chest area, and now I don't, so I think my $30 was well spent. (On another note, why wouldn't you buy the cheaper bra even if it was in a color you didn't like? Is $20 really worth it for a green bra vs. a blue one? I think not.)

--> I talked about my favorite headband here. I've run half marathons as well as my full marathon and a ton of training runs with this headband, and it's never slipped off. I'm sure most of you ladies know how amazing it is to find a headband that won't slip. It's like a four-leaf clover or a unicorn. Or maybe a unicorn eating a four-leaf clover. If anyone else has found a non-slip headband, leave a comment! I'd love to check it out.

I will mention that I would not recommend drying these in the dryer. Ever since I accidentally dried mine in the dryer, they do slip just a tad. They've never actually fallen off or even come close; usually I just have to tug it to get it back where I had it. I really do blame the dryer for that one because before that I never had any problems. Another bonus is that it isn't tight on my head and doesn't give me a headache.

--> As for the other gadgets--the watch and the ipod and the special long-sleeved t-shirts with the thumb holes--you don't really need those. I honestly can't remember the last time I bought myself a running shirt. I usually just ask for running stuff for Christmas and leave it at that. 

Once you start doing races, you'll collect race shirts like an episode of Hoarders, and those are great to run in (if they're dri-fit). Although I do run in regular cotton t-shirts a lot of the time. (Remember? I'm cheap.) I do love these Nike shorts (same as in the above picture). They're the only shorts I run in. I had 2 pairs that I rotated forever until my mom bought me 2 more pairs when they had a sale at Dick's. (I still can't get over what a terrible store name that is.)

I will say that Jordan bought me my Garmin GPS watch for Christmas in 2010, and it has been A. mazing. It's not cheap, but I think it's so worth it. You can set interval workouts, keep track of your pace, set laps so you can see how fast you've run each mile, and even look at a map of your run! Again, not necessary but a fun gadget to have. 

I found this image on Pinterest and pretty much died laughing. (Not literally, you understand.)
Just wait until you forget to charge your watch and it dies during the first mile of a half marathon and you'll understand why this is funny.

ANYWAY, I could go on about clothes and gear, but really you just have to find what works. You can check out my "Fitness Closet" on Pinterest for fun fitness clothes and even jewelry! Also, check out this post I read earlier this week about the cost of running or this post from a fellow running blogger on her running Christmas wish list.

BOTTOM LINE (for those who skimmed): Don't be intimidated by "real" runners who have all the gadgets. Having a shirt with a thumb hole or name-brand shoes doesn't make you a runner. RUNNING makes you a runner. So get yourself a good pair of shoes and get to work!

Now for something I'm really excited about! I figured this running series needed a little more than just me talking the whole time. So I emailed a few of my running blogger friends to help me out! 

I'll be featuring a few of them at the end of each running post. Each blogger got the same three questions to answer. The experience and accomplishments vary from brand-new runner to more experienced, and hopefully their advice and stories will inspire you! 

Note: This isn't any kind of sponsored feature. I reached out to them because I thought it would be fun to hear from other running bloggers. Hope you like it!

I chose Kate and Rachel to feature this week, because in their running advice, both mentioned running gear! I thought it was serendipitous.

<  Kate's Blog | Begin Anyway >

< Rachel's blog | Curious Runner Girl>

Do you agree that shoes are the most important? What's your favorite running gear? Share a link in the comments!

*Nike is not endorsing this blog post. Ha! I wish! Also, I don't only wear Nike. I just happened to be when I took that picture.

Disclaimer: I am not a personal trainer or physician. This post is not intended to offer medical advice. Contact your doctor before beginning a fitness routine or if you experience pain while exercising.
Lauren @ Love is the Point said...

I totally think you deserve a Nike ad! Dang, girl.

And just for the record - I, too, hate the name "Dick's." Love the store. Terrible name.

But I'm definitely a fan of this series. I always wanted to be a runner, and I've tried it several times, but usually end up discouraged.

So now maybe I'll have to jump back on the bandwagon! Thinking it over. Thanks for this :)

Claire@MyDevising said...

Good words, good words. I, too, think shoes are hands down the most important piece of gear. They really do make the difference!

Sarah said...

Yay love all of this!

I agree shoes are the most important, I have been thinking about Brooks for my next ones, I've heard such great things about them.

I have been buying more running clothes than regular clothes lately, what is wrong with me? I foresee a lot of running gear on my Christmas list. Including a Garmin as well...

Betty said...

I totally agree that shoes are the most important...and actually it looks like we have the same shoes! I was excited to get a pair of Brooks that had blue laces. :)

Tracy said...

I agree about going to a specialty shoe store for shoes the first time. I'm not a runner but when I wanted to get back to the gym and walk on the treadmill they helped me tremendously. I have extremely flat feet and there was basically one shoe that worked in the whole store. So I now have elephant feet (grey with flourescent green).

Maybe your posts will inspire me to run.

Holly @ Hello Audrey Ruth said...

Thanks for writing this! The color run on Saturday will be the first 5K I've ever done. I know it might sound lame but I just started walking every day about a month ago when Veronica asked if I would do the Color Run with her. I know I'm not going to be able to run it all, but I'm going to try gosh darn it! I hope to be able to do more running soon and was actually thinking about going to a running store for shoes. Now I know I won't look like a complete idiot going in and having no idea what I'm talking about.

Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch said...

Yes to the shoes!!! You just gotta have a good pair. TJMax has some good running clothes too. I've gotten some nike shorts there for half the price.

Abbey said...

I am SO WITH YOU on almost everything here. I was intimidated by "real" runners with all their gear and what not, but I ran in tshirts for the first 7 months or so of running, and I survived (mostly because my long runs weren't actually long enough to need a dri-fit shirt at that point) (dri-fit? dry-fit? whatever.)

The one thing I would add: My running changed a LOT when I bought a sleeve for my iphone. I run with my phone always, and on longer or more intense runs, I found that I was gripping my phone, which caused a lot of soreness in my back and shoulders. I'm able to relax a little bit better when I'm not holding my phone. I still just hold it for shorter/less intense runs, but my long runs and intervals and such, I usually go for the armband.

DareDreamTravel said...

The other thing I would mention as far as "don't skimp" equipment is concerned: For women with a little more endowment along the chest, don't skimp on a bra!! It is not worth the added strain to your back to save $5-$10. Go to a specialty store, get fit properly, and jump around in it before purchase. Make sure your girls are supported!!

(Agree 100% on the shoes too, by the way.)

Becky said...

This is a great post! I finally learned not to skimp on the shoes and boy what a difference. Those nike shorts are my absolute favorite and I need to get another pair. I'm the same way when it comes to shirts - usually wear cotton ones or old race tees. I'm looking for better sports bras so I'm gunna check out the one you mentioned :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, not to sound like a creeper, but you have the best muscular legs and arms! Like, I want your definition. <creepy?

Anyways, loving the features of the other runners at the bottom. I'm always looking for other running bloggers to follow.

(p.s. your pin that I repinned this AM is already being repinned like crazy! yay!)

eileen ragan | leaner by the lake said...

It's so true that you don't have to spend a fortune! For all my spring/summer stuff - I got it at Old Navy, Target, and Gap all on sale. For sports bras, since I have a large chest, I buy from Moving Comfort and let me say it is the best 50 bucks ever spent. I've never had a sports bra that offers the comfort and stability that this guy does. I think mine is the Mia.

What Garmin model do you have? I'm in the market...

Also, any suggestions on fall/winter running coats/light jackets? I want something that is water/wind proof rather than heavy and fleecy. Thinking that for now my Northface rain coat may do, but I'm having trouble finding something that would work.

Emily W. said...

Headbands being "like a four-leaf clover or a unicorn. Or maybe a unicorn eating a four-leaf clover." -- 1000 times yes! I can't tell you the number of headbands I've gone through. When my latest headband purchase (with the promised "no slip" grips) flew off my head one minute into my run, I wanted to hurl it across the field next to me. Only it was still laying treacherously on the ground several yards back. Seriously can't wait to try out your recommendation.

Also, I agree about good running shoes being the best investment. I'm a Brooks lover, and I've been looking into some of the new lightweight versions. Heard any word on the street (or the Internet) about these? If you saw my current pair, you'd cringe!

...And as always, love your blog. Keep it up, Reese. :)

Tamara said...

I'm in love with this series.

When I first started running, it was t-shirts and cotton capris and crappy 3 year old tennis shoes. Over the past couple years as I've found things I liked, registered for more races, read wayyyy too many running articles/blogs the main thing I still focus on is shoes. My workout drawer for all my clothes has expanded to two because of all the race shirts.

I have a Garmin I bought way too early in my running because I kept thinking I needed more running gear to be a real runner, but I didn't really start using it until the past 6 months.

Z said...

I agree with a lot of these - especially about shoes!!! I had terrible running shoes and ran in terrible conditions my first few months of writing and I feel as though that permanently affected my feet. Learn from my mistakes! I would also say that by far the BEST sports bras are from Old Navy. Even compared to fancy ones. Gotta go with cheap :]

Unknown said...

Great stuff! You are my go to for running! Have you written on nutrition and running before? Have I missed it?

Katie said...

yes you need to be in an ad :) it took be awhile to learn that about running shoes but it makes such a difference!

Kayla Peveler said...

Um I legit thought that WAS a Nike ad...haha! Get it girl!! These are all AMAZING tips, checking out the headbands now!! With this new short haircut I need a good one so my little hairs around my neck quit sprouting out like weeds! ;)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the awesome tips, Amanda! I am in serious need of new running shoes but have always been afraid to go into the fancy shoe stores. But you are totally right--it's the best way to find what works for me. PS: Loving your haircut! It makes me want to chop all mine off :)

Katie Dupre said...

When I did the C25K program at Red Coyote they had a shoe seminar and I bought a nice pair of running shoes. It turns out I am quite the pronator, so it has made an INCREDIBLE difference to my feet, ankles, and knees to have the proper shoes (they are Saucony, btw). They are well worth the money.

Also, if your boobs are a C cup or higher, I would STRONGLY recommend springing for the fancy sports bra. If your boobs bounce too much when you run, it is not only painful, but can actually tear the muscles that hold your boobs up, resulting in deflated, saggy, uncomfortable bosoms. Plus, if you have DDDs like mine, the bouncing throws off your stride and rhythm really bad.

Also, I don't know if you have ever talked about Runkeeper at all on your blog, but I always use that on my phone and I love it. It tracks my pace, distance, and path, and you can set specific workouts or use one of the pre-made ones that they have. It shows you splits and charts and times and emails you congratulations when you set a new record. I'm kind of in love.

I like this, because when I run, especially in the dark, it's important to me to have my phone on me in case of emergency. That way I have my Runkeeper, my music, and my link to 911 (should I ever need it) right there in my hand at all times. Just a little safety note for the gals who like to run early morning/late at night!

Anonymous said...

I too tend to only run in Nike tempo shorts. I haven't found anything more comfortable. And that's ultimately what's important to me while running: comfort!

I tend to avoid cotton running gear for comfort reasons too. Cotton holds sweat/rain close to your skin, so if you chafe at all, or have difficulty maintaining your body temperature, purchasing dri-fit (or other similar fabrics) is a good investment.

Great advice here, Amanda.

Michelle said...

Love your Nike poses. Spray yourself with a water bottle for the fake sweat look and they'll probably contact you tomorrow! PS. I officially put your blog button on my blog. It's official. I am an official fan. ;) Keep posting great stuff!

Michelle said...

PS. You know what sort of running post would be incredible educational? A post entirely devoted to running shorts that don't go up in the middle when you run...or in my case walk. Seriously, front wedgies are not cool.

Unknown said...

Oh man - you totally SHOULD have a Nike ad. Girl you are fit!

Also thank-you for that garmin quote.

I was anti-running gear for the longest time, but then after a REALLY long stint of not running, I found the only way to coax myself back into it was with the bribe of new running tights and a slick running touque (I LIVE WHERE IT SNOWS - I don't care if spell check doesn't recognize that word.. it's a word). Awesome series.
I'm gonna tweet it like it's hot.

Kendra said...

Hi Amanda! I like this post, but in general I just wanted to tell you that your blog is so entertaining and well written! You are so creative and funny- I have laughed out loud many times reading some of your posts. I am happy to see you doing well and pursuing your dream career :) Go Greenville!

Holly said...

Shoes are most definitely important. Unfortunately, I skimp on those just like I skimp on clothes! At least in the cost category. Currently I have FILA shoes with memory foam in them. They are by far the best shoes I've had to run in and have given me no problems. However, I've been considering going to a running store to get fitted for shoes and dropping some good hard cash on a pair. We'll see.

Otherwise, I go to Target for pretty much everything. I got some good finds in their clearance section for workout stuff, but lately they haven't had anything good. The C9 sports bras are my favorite, as are their mesh capris! I can't wear shorts because they ride up and chafe, even the compression ones, but I did find some mesh shorts with built in compression shorts that I am hoping will work next summer.

Betsy said...

I totally agree that shoes are the most important! If you don't have shoes that fit your body and the way you run, running probably won't feel good and you won't stick with it. Without shoes that help rather than hinder your efforts, I really don't think you'll get far - if there's one thing you should invest in, it's a good pair of shoes. (To be totally honest, I always buy mine from the store where I get my gait analyzed - the staff is consistently amazing so I don't mind paying a little more for them there instead of online.)

The second thing I think is the most important is SOCKS. I learned the hard way that 100% cotton socks are a bad freaking idea. My feet still haven't recovered from the first year of blisters! I get all of my at Target or from the bargain bin at Pacers; you don't have to spend a lot of money but make sure they're made for exercise!

And I'm with you on the expensive clothes otherwise. You get so many shirts from doing races and you can get a 5-pack of men's undershirts for like $10... just use those! I don't think I've ever bought sports bras or running bottoms (I almost only wear crops, never shorts, and sometimes leggings if it's cold, but that's a strange personal preference!) that weren't on sale. It helps to feel like you look good, sure, but it's not necesssary!

And my Garmin was a Hanukkah present last year and I asked for it before my first 10k because I felt like that made me a Real Runner :)

-A said...

I have a question! I've just started running and am running my first 5k this weekend!
Since I was in high school I've had this problem of shorts riding up in my crotch when I run! This is a terrible problem because I don't want to pull at my crotch every 10 strides to fix my shorts! So I've been running in yoga pants and capri tights. I am blessed with a pear shaped body, so I'm not a natural runner. Am I the only one with this problem?!!! Any advice or suggestions?

xx Randi @

PS Love the blog! So glad to have all this experienced advice as a newbie!

Raige Creations said...

I am pear-ish too. I wear long running pants, stretchy. The tight fit means no bunching. My knees are too unattractive to show at this point. (I have bad knees and am very very self conscious about them.)
Try wearing some stretchy fitted shorts underneath your running shorts. Then outer shorts won't get stuck if you have a base layer.

The one thing I don't skimp on is shoes (see bad knees). If your feet hurt, you won't run. If you otherwise look like a geek, who cares?

I sometimes run with a baseball hat on, and feel like I look like Forrest Gump runnnninnnnggg. (my hair sticks out the bottom all funny like, especially since I just got it cut shorter). I am thrilled you suggested a headband. The sweat dripping down my face is one of the reasons I wear the hat, and it doesn't do the best job of keep the sweat off my face.
It DOES do a good job of blocking the sun, and hiding my face a little on those days I am feeling less outgoing.

Megan said...

I am also really cheap, but I actually did go to a running store on Saturday and got fitted for "real" running shoes! I ended up with Brooks. :) They were definitely the most expensive shoes I've ever bought, but considering my right foot was falling asleep in my last pair after about 3-4 miles, I think these will be a good investment haha. Oh, and I found out I was buying running shoes an entire size too small. Whoops! Great advice.

Amanda said...

Great tip! Thanks for sharing, Abbey!

Amanda said...

Great tip! Thanks for sharing!

Amanda said...

I use the Garmin Forerunner 305. It's an older model, so I'm sure you could find some cheap ones on Amazon or something. I really need to get a good colder running jacket, so I don't have a recommendation for anything I've personally used. I'll let you know if I find something I love!

Amanda said...

I know some people who LOVE the lightweight shoes and other people who don't. I think if you're interested you should definitely try some out. Maybe run in them a few times and alternate with a "regular" pair until you get used to having less support. I know I've thought about getting a pair but never taken the plunge.

Amanda said...

I forget about Old Navy athletic stuff! Good tip :)

Amanda said...

haha! :)

Amanda said...

You are not alone! I've heard many people who have this problem. I would recommend capris or maybe even some tighter compression shorts under a pair of regular shorts if you don't like capris. I also listened to a Jillian Michaels podcast where she recommended a light pair of sweat-wicking sweatpants. You could try that.