I frequently get asked when serving customers if specialised products are in fact more effective than any old workout gear. Of course, this would then elicit a long-winded response explaining the wicking properties in synthetic socks over cotton ones, or the advanced technologies used by the brands we stock, but here I can offer you a far simpler answer -yes.
Contrary to the saying, only a bad workman blames his tools, the lives of runners can be made far easier with the correct gear. I am aware that working at a running shop, I have the luxury of testing and trying lots of different pieces, but with a minimalist approach and a few staple pieces, anyone can build a great collection.
Here is a list of the 5 essentials to have as well as some gear related tips that I have found useful during my training over the last few months.
Shoes: Try switching between more than one shoe
Running shoes are among the most essential pieces of kit, and it goes without saying that getting your gait analysed to find the correct pair is going to give you the best results in training as well. I have found great benefit in running in different shoes depending on the length and speed of my runs- using a more cushioned shoe with a higher drop on slower recovery runs or on days where I am feeling sore and a lighter, more responsive shoe in tougher sessions. In addition to facilitating better training, switching shoes forces you to exercise and strengthen different muscles through the feet and legs that will help reduce risk of injury.
Sports Bras: Posture matters
Sports bras are key to reduce the risk of breast ptosis and mastalgia (breast pain). I spent years running in crop top style bras thinking they were offering enough support, but after being properly fitted in a running specific, high impact bra the support wasn’t even comparable. Furthermore, wearing a properly fitting sports bra contributes hugely to posture as well and helps me to keep my shoulders back and relaxed even at the end of runs when the core begins to tire.
Running really does work your whole body and so to further help with posture I have recently been focusing more on training my back and core in the gym as I was really noticing it weakening throughout runs.
Clothing with good quality fabrics: the more breathable the better!
With the weather being slightly warmer this week, it quickly became apparent when met with the relief of taking off a layer just how much more you fatigue when you’re too hot. Breathable fabrics that are used in higher quality items will help runners to regulate their body temperatures and also reduce any irritation or chaffing. Investing in pieces, from sport bras to tights and jackets, with breathable fabrics will allow them to last longer while making runs feel more comfortable.
Socks, socks, socks! : Remember- don’t use fabric softener!
I still stand by the idea that you can’t really have too many pairs of running socks. Nothing really compares comfort-wise and I pretty much use them on a daily basis. There are certain pairs with anti-bacterial properties that mean you don’t need to wash them after every run and so a few pairs can definitely still go a long way. The breathability and wicking properties of the socks will be affected by fabric softener however, so make sure to leave that out when washing these!
Tech treats: Run and learn!
I treated myself to a pair of wireless, bone conducting headphones and boy, are they a game changer. They sit on top of the cheekbone on the entrance of the ear to allow runners, cyclists, or walkers to hear their surroundings while enjoying music that travels through vibrations straight into the inner ear. Normally headphones easily fall out when I run, or the cable is so cumbersome that it affects my posture.
A wireless option is therefore a great way to combat that, with the additional safety aspects not going a miss either. I have been loving mixing up music playlists with podcasts while I’m out running to make maximum use of my time. There are days when I enjoy mindful running without any sound but if you are a keen multi-tasker podcasts or audio books are a great way to kill two birds with one stone.
Read the third chapter of Megan’s multi-blog series: Why run a half marathon?