Disclaimer: Though I mention specific brands in this post, this is not an advertisement for those brands and I am not compensated for sharing those preferences. I am also not a fitness instructor or healthcare professional, so if you have specific questions about training, diet, or supplements, please consult your healthcare provider.
Every runner has a favorite piece of equipment they swear by. The Piece de Resistance, so to speak – like when you were 5 and you got new shoes so you just had to show everybody how fast you could run and how high you could jump. I’ve come to notice we never actually grow out of this mindset; there are entire industries built around this idea that better equipment will make you a better athlete. While it’s an absolute truth that there are functional features that make one piece of equipment perform better than another, I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that what works for someone else (or comes in a pretty package), may not be the best piece of equipment for you.
In regards to overall performance and safety, my recommendation to new runners is this: it is all about the footwear. Currently, I am rocking a pair of Adidas Adios 4.0 as my outdoor shoe and a pair or Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 as my indoor (treadmill) shoe. I don’t share this because I think these are the right shoes for you; I share it because these are what I have determined work for me right now. Historically, I have loved the Saucony Triumph ISO 2 and 3 (but not the 4 or 5). For a long time, I found myself injured every time I tried to force myself into a pair of Nikes (let’s face it – they are the best-looking athletic shoe there is and I really wanted to make them work). Several times I have tried variations of Brooks – the Honda Civic of the shoe world IMO – but I just don’t share the enthusiasm the rest of the world seems to have. Numerous other running shoes have found their way into my arsenal but have not made it past their initial debut. Don’t get married to a brand for better or for worse – when it’s not what you love anymore, move on!
Footwear can impact performance, but it can also make or break injury. Very often when a runner is injured, their doctor recommends a change of shoe. There are lots of factors in footwear that determine if it is “right” for you. I won’t go into the science here, but I’ve included some links at the end of this post that can be helpful in determining the best footwear. You should also change your running shoes approximately every 300-500 miles. There are apps like Nike Run Club that can help you keep track of mileage and provide reminders when it is time to upgrade your shoe. Just remember that what works for someone else may not be the best footwear for you, and what works for you now may evolve in the future!
My personal favorite piece of equipment has nothing to do with performance and everything to do with convenience. On a friend’s recommendation, I now bring my Flipbelt on every run. Flipbelt fits around my waist and is a convenient way to carry my phone, keys, and a special-fitting water bottle without the burden and bounce of a runner’s pack.
In regard to clothing, I have female friends who refer to themselves as “bra snobs” and swear that investing in a good sports bra is the key to success; others swear their performance socks make the difference. Personally, I just go with what is comfortable, cute, and affordable when it comes to clothing. I will say this: if you find something you really like, buy it in every color!
I consider music as part of my running “equipment” because for me, music can influence the purpose and intensity of my run. I can use music to facilitate a “calming” run, or I can use it to enhance what I call my “rage runs.” In fact, you can find playlists that are designed specifically to affect your pace (imagine a personal metronome in your headphones) or utilize music streaming services like Spotify with features that will allow your music to match your running pace (speaking of Spotify playlists, have you listened to our #shareyourstrides playlist on Spotify yet? check it out here). If nothing else, music is a nice distraction from the fact that you are suffering and panting like a wildebeest.
I don’t go crazy with supplements, but I do highly recommend BCAA amino acids after a run to aid in recovery. You can pick these up at basically any health food shop, and I really do swear by their effects. I also enjoy the energy gel Gu if I will be doing a longer run. (Correction: I do not enjoy these. The consistency makes me gag and I think they are named “Gu” because that is the noise I make when I try to swallow them. But they do seem to help with stamina, and I enjoy the benefits.)
Above all for performance: HYDRATE! Not just during or after your run, but All.The.Time.
Every runner will try to sell you their own version of “snake oil,” and as you accumulate miles you will discover your own personal secret weapons and find yourself bestowing your wisdom upon others. A friend and I were recently wondering how many of these potions are simply placebo effect and we decided that in the end, it doesn’t really matter! If it makes you feel better and makes you wake up tomorrow and run again, run further, run faster – then you do you!
For Further Reading
- Runners World: How to Buy the Right Running Shoe
- Running Shoes Guru: Reviews
- Runners World: How Much Does Music Help During a Run?
Click here to learn more and register for Share Your Strides, a virtual stride-a-thon event to benefit the CCAHT.