If you’re anything like me, before you start anything, you need to be prepared. Everything has got to be in place, just in case!
What I’ve come to realise, is that this is a form of procrastination. The prep is just a way of not doing the thing I’m meant to be doing.
As I have (slightly) minimised my life, I now only have the things I need and use and try to keep it as simple as possible.
Here are 7 bits of expensive kit that are not essential for running or starting running!
Tops and bottoms
Okay! Essential, but it’s easy to get sucked into the belief that you need gear for every perceivable weather condition. You don’t. The only difference between my summer and winter kit is – a long sleeved compression top that goes under my normal tech tee and a pair of gloves. Even in the dead of winter, when the ground is frozen solid and I’m BMFing in the park, 2 layers are perfectly fine. I do tend to run a little hotter than most people though! I get some strange looks when I am running in Poland in the winter. I’m in my shorts and the person coming the other way has a hat, scarf, leggings, jacket and gloves on.
There is some beautiful gear out there, but kit doesn’t have to break the bank. You can pick up a few treats from TK Maxx (clothing discount store) if you are willing to search through the racks. Sports Direct carry Karrimor sports kit that is very reasonably priced. I see a good number of people wearing Kalenji gear that is available from Decathlon and is great valve. At Decathlon, you can pick up a male t-shirt and shorts for £14 and female t-shirt and shorts/leggings for £17/22.
I’ll admit. I do have a GPS watch, it’s a Garmin Forerunner 235, and I quite like it. It does not make me a better runner. I use it to track my distance, mileage and pace. The thing is, I survived without it for years beforehand. It definitely never stopped me getting starting.
I think a wrist watch with a stopwatch is a very useful, but you can pick them up for a 20th of the price of a GPS watch.
Another expensive nice to have. I see people running with large over the ear headphones (the Beats by Dre kind) and I wonder how they do it. The weight of them and also that their ears must be on fire. The Bluetooth ones look great, but it is just another thing that needs charging and to lose.
Listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks whilst running is nice and can distract you from some of the discomfort you are in, but they are not essential. By using headphones, you are unable to hear your breathing, which is a good sign of your exertion. You are also unable to hear other pedestrians, cyclists or cars. If you’re running with others, then there is no need for them at all. If you do want to use some headphones, use the ones you already have. They come “free” with your phone and use a bit of tape to keep them in your ears (if that’s an issue)
They come it many colours, patterns, types, materials and costs. Nike now does a sock called Grip that provides traction inside your shoes. They come in at £23 a pair. Compression socks can be between £15-25 a pair, and the benefits have yet to be fully proved.
Cotton may be your obvious choice, but runners are sweaty and cotton holds moisture and does not “wick” sweat away like specifically designed running socks. A wet, damp foot can lead to blisters because of the moisture and the friction in the shoe. Have a look for socks made out of synthetic fibres that have wicking properties to keep your feet as dry as possible whilst running. If you want to try some socks, running shops should have plenty to try on. A pair of running socks should be a snug fit to stop gathering and small seams to avoid the risk of blisters. I have been using Nike Dri Fit socks for years and rarely suffer a blister. 3 pairs – £10. One tip I would have is about colour – pick a colour of sock that is similar to the rest of your kit. I tend to wear black kit (a practical rather than a fashion choice) and throwing your white socks into the wash with your black kit tends to turn them grey. Therefore, I have black socks so all my kit can be washed at the same time.
I’ve used gels during marathon training, marathons and long bike rides, but for most runs, they are not required. I have recently run two half marathons without any added fuel. At a race a few weeks ago, I saw people taking on gels at the 2-mile mark which I thought was a bit over the top. We’d only been going for about 16 minutes. For any run up to an hour, you should have no need for gels. Make sure you are hydrated and have eaten something a couple of hours before. Your body will have plenty of energy.
The Lucozade advert above, where people of a certain age learnt what isotonic means! If you do need a shot of energy before or after a run, you may look to a sports drink to give it to you. Again, there are plenty of potions and powders available. The basis of most sports drinks is sugar (energy), salt (electrolytes) and water (hydration)
Here’s a great link to 5-a-side.com, that has contains 6 options on how to made your own sports drink, including a mojito inspired effort!
Gore Tex / Windstopper Running Jackets
I once bought an Adidas Windstopper Running jacket. It (was) lovely, looked great and I felt like a bad-ass runner. I think I ran in it once. One time. When it was raining and I still got wet. If you are out running in the rain for 10 minutes or more, you’ll get soaked through, so is just no point bothering with a jacket. I now use the Adidas jacket for cycling and it works quite nicely. When its dry. When it rains, I still get trenched.
Don’t think that you need everything to start running. Knowing you enjoy it and want to continue with it before you splash out on gadgets is a good idea. If you like it and want to continue, you can pick things up bit by bit as your running journey progresses.
Next week – the one bit of kit you really do need – the shoes!