With gyms closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, more people are turning to running as their favored form of exercise. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and even those hardcore running naysayers — the ones who used to proudly announce that the only reason they’d ever go running was if someone was chasing them — are now lacing up their sneakers and heading outside to pound the pavement.
As a longtime runner and four-time marathon finisher (slow marathon finisher, that is), I’ve been touting the benefits of running for years. It keeps my heart rate and blood pressure low, makes my skin look better, and helps regulate my mood (they’re not kidding when they say running is a natural antidepressant). But the thing I love most about running is that it’s easy to get started. There’s no fancy equipment required; all you really need is your two feet and a path to follow.
Of course, it’s nice to have some running gear to help you get started — and it’s fun to shop for, too. (Don’t overlook the benefits of retail therapy in fighting your quarantine malaise.) If you’re ready to take up this accessible, stress-busting exercise, we’ve got you covered. Scroll down to shop FIRST for Women’s picks for the best running gear for beginners!
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1. Running Shoes
Brooks Glycerin 18
Where to buy: $150, Zappos
The most essential item for any runner is a supportive, high-quality pair of shoes — and Brooks are some of the best ones out there. The Glycerin 18 is a neutral support shoe, meaning it’s good for a variety of gaits (that’s how your body moves when you run). The cushioning acts as a shock-absorber for your joints, helping prevent knee and hip injuries and keeping you comfortable as you run. If you’re going to spend a little more money on just one item, make it your shoes, to protect yourself from injuries and strain. Available in six color combos and three different widths, these shoes will last for at least your first few hundred miles.
2. Sports Bra
Athleta Glory 2.0
Where to buy: $64, Athleta
Second to feet, the area most in need of support while running is your chest. Take it from me — bouncing can be painful, especially when perimenopausal hormones are playing havoc with your system. So even if your girls are on the small side, you’ll want them held firmly in place while you run. This bra from Athleta comes in cup sizes from B to DD and is designed to be comfortable during intense cardio workouts, providing light compression to hold you in. The straps are fully adjustable, and a hook-and-eye closure means you don’t have to wrestle it over your sweaty head to take it off. Available in pink, white, or black, it’s fashionable and functional.
3. Running Belt
Where to buy: $19, Amazon
Keys, phone, cash, identification — you’ve got to have a place to stash your stuff while you run. When I first started running, I used to tie a house key in my shoelace and hold my phone, but that got old fast. This running belt is a far better option, and holds everything you need. An adjustable waistband lets you wear it high up or down around your hips, whatever is most comfy for you, and a super-stretchy pouch expands to accommodate all your essentials.
4. GPS Watch
Garmin Forerunner 35
Where to buy: $119 (Originally $169.99), Amazon
When it comes to running gear for beginners, a GPS watch falls squarely into the category of “nice to have, but not strictly necessary.” That said, I wish I’d bought one when I first started running, rather than trying to track my mileage with a smartphone app. This Garmin model is so good, we already wrote about it, but it bears repeating: the Forerunner 35 lets you easily monitor your heart rate, see how far you’ve gone, and pace yourself so you don’t go out too fast and lose steam before you get home.
5. Wireless Headphones
Jaybird Vista Bluetooth Earbuds
Where to buy: $177.99, Amazon
Some people like to run without listening to music or podcasts, but personally, I prefer to drown out my own thoughts as much as possible. That makes wireless earbuds a must for me, and this Jaybird pair (pictured above with the included charging case) is perfect for running. They’re sweat-proof, drop-proof, hold a charge for six hours, and provide crisp sound quality. Connect them to the Jaybird app and customize your audio experience, so your phone calls, tunes, and podcasts sound just the way you like. Worried about losing one of these small, lightweight gizmos? The app tells you where they are at all times, as long as you’ve synced them up first.
6. Running Socks
Brooks Launch Lightweight Tab Socks
Where to buy: $12, Brooks
No list of running gear for beginners is complete without socks! The best shoes in the world won’t feel great without a pair of breathable, moisture-wicking running socks to keep your tootsies cool and dry. These Brooks socks are seamless, so they won’t rub you the wrong way, and have a tab at the back so they won’t ride down into the back of your shoe. Made of a soft nylon/polyester/spandex blend that provides maximum ventilation, they provide extra compression across the arch of your foot to help prevent cramping, and are treated to minimize odor. Care instructions couldn’t be easier: Just toss them in the washer and dryer and you’re set for your next run!