There is a population of runners who love to say that running is the cheapest and easiest form of exercise around—“All you need is a pair of shoes; no fancy equipment, just get up and go!” It’s true that running is beautifully simple, and certainly you can get far with a good set of kicks. So is all that fancy gear and gadgetry you see at running specialty stores a waste of money? How are you supposed to figure out what’s worth it, and what’s just bells and whistles? Here’s a guide to what you need for your best run, inspired by the recent New York City Run Show.
A good pair of shoes is absolutely essential, and these days you’re spoiled for choice. There’s something available for every kind of foot, color preference, degree of support, and budget. If you’re new to running, the best place to start is at a specialty store like JackRabbit or Urban Athletics in the NYC area; don’t just walk into any shoe store and pick whatever style you like off the shelf. You’ll want to have your gait looked at by someone who knows what they’re doing so that they can put you in a shoe that will minimize your potential for injuries and maximize your degree of enjoyment. You may be interested in getting a pair of minimalist shoes after hearing all the hype about them. Whatever you select, just be aware that so far, there haven’t been any studies that conclusively state that modern running shoes cause injury, but there also haven’t been any studies that conclude that they don’t. The different between regular running shoes and minimalist running shoes is really in the way they influence your running form. Neither is inherently good or bad.
Make sure that you replace your shoes every 250-400 miles.
In the same way that you need a good, supportive bra for everyday use, you need a good, supportive sports bra for running. Luckily, just as there are for shoes, there are many, many options available. Personally I like a pretty straightforward compression style, but I’m betting that every LUNAChix Team member has her own tried and true brand and style. When you’re trying to find something that works for you, make sure to take into consideration the level of support that’s offered, and the level of impact the bra is designed for.
Many runners really like to listen to music while they run. If you fall into this category, you may find that your regular earbuds just don’t cut it while you’re out running. I actually gave up on listening to music while running a couple years ago because I couldn’t find any earbuds that wouldn’t fall out of my ears once I got going. These days, though, there are companies that are making earbuds with athletes in mind. Yurbuds designs earbuds that lock in place, are super comfortable, won’t move a millimeter, and still allow you to hear what’s going on around you (which is super important when you’re running outside!!); Zippearz is another company that makes earbuds that are guaranteed to stay in place, with a cord that zips together so that you don’t have to deal with wires bouncing around all over while you’re getting your run on.
Hydration and Nutrition
Everyone agrees: to run well you have to be well-fueled and well-hydrated. Make sure to pay close attention to the amount of fluids you’re getting, especially as the weather warms up and it gets more and more humid outside. If you’re outside, carry a water bottle with you, or make sure to know where you can find a water fountain to rehydrate (or both). As far as fueling is concerned, it’s important to have both a pre-run and post-run routine. What you eat is ultimately pretty subjective and depends entirely on what works best for you, but before a run you generally want something that is easily digested and has a good amount of carbs. After a run, a combination of carbohydrates and protein is your best bet. A perfect excuse for a Luna Protein bar!
As you spend more and more time running, you’ll start to find that there are all sorts of useful tools and toys you can play around with. I’ve just tried to cover the basics here. And obviously the most important thing is to get out and have fun!