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Sports Backers Blog

Advice for New and Returning Runners, Part Two: Essential Gear for Runners

In the midst of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, running has become the escape we are all turning to amid our new reality of quarantines and social distancing. With life throwing big challenges our way, many people are taking up running, or returning to the sport after a long layoff. With that in mind, Sports Backers has turned to our community of running enthusiasts to provide advice, tips, motivation, and inspiration to new and returning runners to help guide you in your journey and take full advantage of the physical and mental benefits of an active lifestyle. And be sure to keep in mind current public safety guidelines as well as general rules of the road when walking or running.

Part one focused on advice, motivation, and inspiration for getting started, and part two is all about essential gear for runners.

Part Two: Essential Gear for Runners


Jeff Wells, Owner, Fleet Feet Richmond

New and returning runners should consider acquiring some basic running gear to make their workouts more enjoyable and to be less susceptible to injuries. First and foremost, make sure you have proper running shoes and running socks. Your local run specialty shop can help you pick out a good running shoe for you, which should last about 300-500 miles of use. The fit and comfort of the shoe are the overriding factors on how a shoe will perform for you. Your running store staffer can help you with this. The shoe should have ample length and width so that your foot is secure but not too tight within the shoe. Running shoes vary with amount of stability and support, so running stores can also help you arrive at the best option.

Running socks are constructed of materials that wick moisture from your feet for a blister-free experience, have added elastomeric properties to give a snug fit, are durable to hold up against the rough use and long-term wear, have added cushioning in the impact areas, and are quite breathable to keep your feet cool. And they just feel so good on your feet!

Insoles are an excellent way to add more comfort to your shoes. They add support to your arch, assist in absorbing shock, and help maintain proper alignment throughout your running gait. Insoles come in a wide variety of shapes, so it’s best to consult your local running store to get advice on which insole would be best for you. Expect to spend about $50 on a quality product.

A sports bra is also on the essentials list for female athletes. A properly fitted sports bra will help provide support, reduce excessive movement, and help you feel confident and secure.

Many new runners learn that they can benefit by owning a running watch. These devices typically have GPS navigation, heart rate monitoring, and provide accurate time and distance. Prices will vary depending on how advanced the model is.

Hydration is very important for the new runner and should not be overlooked. Running can be a strenuous exercise requiring the athlete to replace fluid on the run. For this reason, water carriers are an essential addition to every runner’s collection. The styles vary from a simple hand-held crrier, which works well for most beginning runners, to waist packs and vests. Most of these carriers include pockets to carry small items such as a car key or phone. They are all designed with the runner in mind, constructed of light, durable materials. “Drink early and often” is the runner’s motto, and a good water carrier will allow you to do just that!

New or returning runners will undoubtedly experience muscle tightness and possibly aches and pains. You are using new muscle groups and this is to be expected. For this reason, it’s a good idea to practice a daily routine of stretching and massage in those soft tissue areas used for running. You will find many types of massage sticks, foam rollers, and percussion guns at your local run specialty shop and the experts there can educate you on the proper use of each tool. Choose one or two tools and use them regularly to keep those muscles loose and flexible and less likely to cause problems later.

John Sicat, Marathon Training Team Coach and Sports Backers Ambassador

1)   Go to one of the local running stores to get equipped – spend the time for a proper fitting for sneakers, buy at least one good outfit from top to bottom – wicking hat/visor, top, shorts, and socks

2)  Always practice safety (be knowledgeable of rules of road, wear ‘Road ID’, wear reflective gear at night, etc.)

Jon Pigg, Sports Backers Ambassador

One word: Shoes! Get some good running shoes. Ask for advice from a running shoe specialist at a dedicated running store.

Mallory McMullin, Sports Backers Ambassador

Here are my tips for a beginning runner–

  • Go get fitted for running shoes! Our local running stores are all willing to help you with virtual shoe fittings right now, and they will help guide you through the process.
  • RunGo is a great, free app that will give you access to lots of great running routes people have created in the area.  You can also utilize it to draw out your own routes to take.  My favorite RunGo feature is that it will read my directions aloud to me as I run.

Shane Jimison, Sports Backers Ambassador

A couch to 5k app on your phone is a great way to get started and work towards becoming a runner. Even if you aren’t trying to complete a 5k, it’ll help you build some endurance. If you find you are struggling, slow down. You shouldn’t think about your pace at all in the beginning. Any forward movement is progress. It took me a long time to understand that if I wanted to really run far, I would have to slow down and then slow down some more. If you can carry on a conversation while jogging, that’s the sweet spot. Hold that.  Getting faster will come.

Consider a virtual race two to three months from now and put it on your calendar. Training for a race is a great way to stay motivated. There are also lots of neat and mostly free apps for your smartphone to track miles and check routes, such as Strava or MapMyRun.

Alison Hale, Sports Backers Merchandise Manager

  • Invest in good running shoes, supportive socks, and wireless headphones (I like New Balance 880s, Features socks, and Aftershokz Trex Air Headphones)


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