Running Gear Essentials for the Beginner Runner

If you're new to running, you may be a bit overwhelmed by all the gear and lingo that gets thrown around by the more experienced runners. You may wonder if you really need everything that they talk about, or if it's OK to start out with a few basics. If so…here are some key items you should have in your training bag:

Essential Clothing Items
First, let's talk about the necessary items. You need a pair of good running shoes; something comfortable to wear while you run and, for women, a good sports bra. These two items are by far the most important pieces of gear you will need for every single run.

The main concern to be aware of when shopping for running clothes is that you should stay away from cotton. Cotton sticks to you once you start sweating, unlike synthetic fabrics which draw the sweat away from your body and keep you more comfortable. Wicking apparel is key—it pulls moisture away from your skin, which helps prevent chafing and blisters. Tighter tops and bottoms are less likely to chafe. Now, dressing for the rain can be tricky, so try and develop a flexible running wardrobe that will cover you during various conditions.

Here are some suggestions on what to wear on those rainy Vancouver nights:
Hat or Visor: Wearing a hat or visor with a brim will keep the rain out of your eyes. For cold, rainy runs, consider adding a light beanie or headband for warmth. A waterproof cap will help keep your head warm and dry(er).

Jacket or Vest: A jacket or vest, usually a polyester blend, serves to keep you warm, keep off wind, rain, and snow, and manage your perspiration. It's an essential piece of equipment on cold, windy and/or rainy days. Use the zipper as a "thermostat" – zip up or down on the run, as needed, to stay comfortable.  

Long-Sleeve Shirt: A long-sleeve shirt made of high-tech polyester will pull moisture away from your skin, keeping you from getting clammy and cold on a cooler day.

Tights: The first level of insulation for your legs. "Classic" tights, are usually a polyester and spandex blend. Looser running pants (also stretchy, but not as form-fitting as tights) are another option here. In extreme cold, tights under pants is a good layering strategy. Underwear under the tights is a good idea; just try to avoid cotton.

So, shoes, a bra, a hat, a jacket, a shirt and some tights. Simple!

Essential Hydration Gear

When training for a race and are building mileage, hydration becomes extremely important (even in the winter). When your runs are on the shorter side, a runner's belt can be helpful to carry keys, ID or some cash in case of emergencies. As you increase your distance, you may need a belt that carries fuel as well as water. Some belts carry water bottles, some energy gels, and almost all have a pocket for small personal items. You can also opt for hand held water bottles or hydration backpacks.

For short distances, plain water is usually adequate, but other fueling options will offer a couple of advantages. Specifically, electrolyte gels and powders help replace some of the sodium and other minerals that your body loses in sweat along with water. In addition, sports drinks provide an extra energy source for your working muscles in the form of carbohydrates. Ultimately though, you want something you feel comfortable carrying and use on a regular basis.

Essential Safety Items

If you’re runnig outdoors when it’s dark you’ve got to wear some type of reflective clothing or reflective accessory item. Wear high-visibility, brightly colored clothing. A lot of running shoes and running clothes are made with reflective stripes, but for added protection you should buy a reflective belt, vest, flashing light, reflective tape or any other accessory item that will make you visible. You can even use a headlamp or hand held light so you can see where you're going, and drivers can see you too! The light should have a bright LED. Just make sure you can be seen on dark, rainy nights!

Not much is needed to keep warm, hydrated and safe on a run!  Take some time, work with a knowledgeable sales associate and try a bunch of stuff on!!