It should come as no surprise that the most important component of your running gear is a well-fitting pair of running shoes. While it may be cheaper to purchase these online through Amazon or Zappos, I would highly encourage you to seek out a local running store the same as you should do for a local bike store. The people who work there are universally passionate and knowledgeable about running, and can suggest the best pair of running shoes for your particular build and stride. Most of the time, they will let you return shoes that don’t fit well, even after running in them several times. Local shops are also a great place to meet other runners and find group runs that match your time and speed constraints. These stores are a great resource – use them.
While most of us are familiar with the basics of running shoes, in recent years there has been an advancement which may be new to you – speed laces. These are laces which don’t tie in a normal bunny-ear fashion but instead have a locking slide mechanism which you pull on to tighten. Some triathletes swear by them, others shrug. I personally use regular lace-up shoelaces, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to drop six dollars or so on speed laces on Amazon to try them and see if you like them.
If you are training for a long distance triathlon or training in the heat, you may want to purchase a Camelbak or similar fluid-carrying system. These will let you carry up to 100 ounces of water or sports drink in a pack on your back so you don’t get dehydrated during your long runs. If you do go this route, be sure not to overhydrate. It can be tempting to drink too much when it is so easily accessible, and this can become an issue if you are drinking plain water. I got very sick one day during my marathon training several years ago when I drank 100 ounces of plain tap water on a hot, 16 mile run during which I sweated profusely. Our sweat contains minerals, most importantly sodium and potassium, and I wasn’t replacing them as I drank, which threw my body into imbalance. I spent the day in bed, shivering. If you find yourself in this scenario, Pedialyte is a great solution. It’s intended to replace fluids and minerals lost through vomiting and dehydration and is the perfect remedy. After that painful day, I switched to a half-Gatorade, half-water concoction and never had a problem with it again.
If you are running in a populated area, an alternative to carrying fluids is to just bring a five-dollar bill with you and take a quick break halfway through your run to pop into a convenience store to buy a water or Gatorade. For the sanity of cashiers everywhere, please put the bill into a Ziplock bag before you stuff it into your pocket! You will deservedly receive a dirty look if you hand them a nasty, sweaty bill. If you make such a stop, this is a great opportunity to use the bathroom, wash your hands, and run water over your head. On a hot day, this will have you feeling like a brand new person.
Compression socks can help with recovery after a long run. Research has shown them to stimulate blood flow, which helps your legs recover faster.
Use Bodyglide everywhere. Everyone is different, but on a long run people generally tend to chafe on their nipples, armpits, thighs, and between their two favorite cheeks.
Next: Running Technique