What gear do we actually need when we run? When you ask this question, newbies AND well-seasoned runners get hung up. But what is essential running gear? I want to break it down for you and give you the TWO essential pieces of gear needed for your running regime.

First, let’s tackle the absolute essential running gear. What do you think you need?

  • Running shoes?
  • Shorts or maybe leggings?
  • Moisture-wicking shirt and windproof jacket, a GPS App on your phone or GPS watch?
  • Running backpacks or vests?
  • Compression socks or armbands?
  • A hat and sunnies?

This list could go on, and many people do take it a lot further. What if I told you that we could cut this list down to the bare minimum? It would certainly save you time and money.

Running Shoes

The most important part of any running gear list is running shoes. They are essential for protecting your feet and preventing injury.

Having worked as a running shoe salesman in the past I’m sure I’m relatively biased here, but I firmly believe this is an area you should invest your money.

It’s important to note that the best running shoe is different for every person; therefore, I strongly encourage you to hop down to your local running shop and find someone to help.

If you’re looking for advice on purchasing new shoes, head over to 4 Questions To Ask When Buying Running Shoes, where I discuss the tips and tricks for making the right decision.

Don’t let the shoes limit you though! It’s even possible to run barefoot, pushing running shoes onto the non-essential list. But even with barefoot running it’s always a good idea to have a little bit of protection like Vibram Five Fingers* or Xero shoes*.

Clothing

Unless you’re going to be running naked, apparel is probably essential for you. But this doesn’t mean it has to be expensive.

If it’s hot outside, an old pair of shorts and a free t-shirt will do. It’s not ideal, but it will do.

In 2016, my friend completed a 75Km run, and when he crossed the line, it was only then I noticed his thick cargo shorts, and in the pocket, he had his water bottle! It didn’t stop him running, and it shouldn’t stop you.

If it’s a little colder outside layer up with whatever you have. The other day I was running in 15 Fahrenheit (-9 Celsius). I didn’t have any heated gear to keep me warm down to that temperature, so I just ran in my big down jacket. It kept me warm enough and allowed me to do my Saturday run.

Even when it’s warmer, I’ve seen my fair share of men in short shorts, no shirt, and running shoes. That’s about as minimal as you can get, right? They understand what their running essentials are.

I asked my wife this same question, to get a woman’s perspective – What do you need when you run? Her response? “A bra and a hair tie”. Fair enough. I’ll understand the bra, as women might need that extra clothing item for support (or to cover up). Hair ties? I’d like to disagree with her, but I won’t! (And to be fair, she does have very long, thick hair, so I can imagine that wouldn’t be ideal to have it flying all about while running). My point is, even for women, there isn’t much more that is absolutely essential for running.

Essential list

  • Running Shoes.
  • Any old clothes. (Probably best not go naked running)
  • Bra. (For women)

Non – Essential Running Gear

Non – Essential running gear is simple. It’s anything that’s not in the list above. But I want to go through and talk about some examples of our “non-essential” gear.

GPS Watch or Application

Many people are on Strava nowadays, and many people have fancy expensive GPS watches. I’m a big data geek, so I enjoy looking back at my previous runs and tracking the trends across the year. Also, the gamification and the public nature of Strava can kick you up the bum and get you out to train when you lack motivation.

Now we can even connect our phones and watches to a heart rate monitor to grab even more information. BUT with all that said GPS devices are not needed.

If we want to keep track of the miles we are doing – keep an old fashioned training log. Also, breaking that tether to your GPS devices can free yourself to just run.

Run freely without a worry of what your last split was or if you got the KOM on that last Strava segment. There’s something to be said about going “Au Naturel” and just enjoying your run.

Water

Water may be a strange one to see on here (and my wife will disagree), but I feel it’s a point worth making.

If you’re going out on a short jog, you DO NOT need to take water! If it’s blazing hot, above 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) use your judgment and don’t be stupid and maybe just run at a different time of day.

Our body is a fantastic machine and will cope in the short term without water and even in the long term without food. So the next time you’re going our for your 20-minute run, leave the bottle at home.

Non-Essential list

  • Everything that’s not in the essential list!

Conclusion

You will always find reasons and come up with excuses not to run. Not having the right gear is usually one of those excuses.

Guess what? I wrote this post to tell you that THERE IS NO EXCUSE!  So the next time you hear any “lack-of-gear” excuses – just ask yourself this one question, “How did cavemen and women run?” You mean they didn’t have the new Nike Zoom Fly Pega Nika Boka Glories? Or an Apple Track-everything-I-do-majig? Yeah, that’s right. Get out there and run, my friend!

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