What running gear do I need?

If you’re thinking of taking up running, or have recently started running, you might be wondering what running gear you need.

(Running is great exercise for lockdown – it’s outdoors and completely free. There’s no worries about the gym or the pool being closed, and transmission of Covid-19 outdoors is much lower than indoors)

In actual fact, if you’re just starting out, there is only one thing you need: RUNNING TRAINERS.

Running trainers can cost from as little as £30 or £40 and genuinely they are the only gear you need when you start running. Look for last season’s ranges to see if you can snap up a bargain. It really makes no difference whether they come in the spring 2021 design or the autumn 2020, they perform exactly the same function.

Of course, many people will choose to buy more gear. If you start to build up your distances and become more serious about running, you will definitely need more.

But to start out, you can run in any comfortable leggings, shorts or jogging bottoms.

I started running as a poor student in 1994. Sportswear was limited and expensive then, so I just wore supermarket jogging bottoms and shorts. I even did two half marathons in cheap shorts and an old T-shirt. I didn’t get any ‘proper’ running gear until 2010.

Now of course there is so much more choice. In addition to the big brands, most supermarkets and fashion retailers have their own fitness ranges. These are made of breathable fabrics, which are more comfortable for running, and the supermarket brands are good value. There are also inclusive and ethical brands – like Contra.

Running clothing is no longer limited to only small sizes. Supermarkets and independent brands are far more inclusive.

You will probably want a long sleeved top and an extra layer (a showerproof running jacket is good) for winter and a vest or short sleeved top for summer. Some people like to wear shorts all year round, but others like to wear leggings in winter. (I would strongly advise not wearing leggings in summer!)

For ladies who are well-endowed, you will need to invest in a sports bra pretty quickly. For ladies who aren’t so big, you can wait a bit longer before investing in one.

I would always recommend running with a phone – for safety and for music (if you like to listen to it while running). While you can run with your phone in your hand, you may want a better way to carry it. You could try an armband, but I’ve never found an armband that fits me. So I prefer a belt. Some running leggings even have big enough pockets for a phone.

Some people are motivated by running with a watch – like a Garmin, Fitbit or Apple Watch. You may already have one of these to count your steps anyway. For some other people, having all of this data is best avoided – it really is a personal choice.

Beyond that, there is an almost infinite choice of running gear, including head torches and reflective bands for running in the dark, specialist running underwear, gloves and hats for cold weather, and hats for hot weather!

A quick checklist of essential running gear:

  • Running trainers
  • Sports bra
  • Running shorts
  • Running leggings (sometimes called tights)
  • Running socks
  • Running tops for different weather/ seasons

But remember, this is all in the future. Right now, the only running gear you need is a pair of running trainers!

Running, Trainers, Running gear, What running gear do I need



Author: Sarah Mummy

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    • Thank you! I did say that it should be a fairly early purchase, but that’s helpful to hear, as I’m so small on top that I really don’t know! I didn’t get a sports bra until 2013 and I started running in 1994.

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  1. Great post, running and wild swimming are great for not actually needing much stuff although there are a lot of things you can buy if you want to. I definitely couldn’t cope without a sports bra though!

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    • Thanks very much! It amazes me how much stuff some people buy/ think they need. I think it could be off-putting for new runners, which is why I decided to write the post.
      I’m definitely not the best person to advise on sports bras as I’m so small and ran for nearly 20 years without one! X

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  2. Such a useful post. I must admit that I had to stop running as I hurt my knee but I really want to start again once the ground dries up a bit. I love the fact that you don’t need much gear for running, so much better than expensive gym memberships

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    • Thanks very much. I hope your knee is better now and you can get back to running gradually. It is good that you can just get out and run any time and anywhere and it is free. My husband and son are really missing the gym, although they do run too.

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