People will try to tell you that running is the cheapest sport in the world to take up, equipment-wise. "Just lace up your shoes and go!" they say.
Of course, now that I've been running for almost two years, I know it's not that simple. That's long enough to have amassed a fair bit of knowledge, but short enough to remember what it's like to buy all the basics. Essentially, this post is about what you'll need, where to save a buck, and where to spend it.
Counter-clockwise, from top right:
Shorts x 2: These are Reebok, bought at Dick's Sporting Goods for around $14.99 each, if memory serves. The style is important; those booty-short styles look great for about five steps. Then your thighs rub together, like thighs do, and you end up with a massive wedgie. You're then left with the decision to pick that wedgie 72 times during your run, or just grit your teeth while it creeps ever further up your buttcrack. These Reebok shorts are very loose, so you don't have that problem, and they also have bloomers inside, kind of like an attached pair of underpants. It keeps you from flashing everyone if you have to bend to tie your shoe, and also gives you the option, on a really hot day, of skipping underwear entirely.
Singlet x 2: I used to think these were tank tops, but no, they're singlets. (They're tank tops.) I picked up two for $10-15 each at tj maxx. The most important thing with these and any running tops is to avoid cotton. When cotton gets damp, like from sweat, it starts to chafe. If you're thinking, 'how is a little chafe a big deal?' Google Image search "chafe nipples." Mmmm-hmm.
Sports bra x 2: This is one of the places to spend a larger chunk of your budget. I favor the Moving Comfort Fiona bra; I'm a larger-chested girl, and this gives me all the support I need. One tip, though: if you're going to buy this particular bra, order one cup size up from your normal fit. Depending on color/size, you're looking at $30-50.
Yoga Pants x 2: I bought these basic yoga pants on Amazon. Depending on color and size, they run from $11-20. They've held up really well, and they have pretty much every color available in the fold over waistband. A tip about that waistband—on really cold days, instead of folding it down, pull it up over your belly for an additional layer on your middle.
Jacket: This was a gift, so I'm not sure of the exact pricing, but I believe it was about $40. The brand is Storm Creek, also purchased on Amazon. You'll want something that isn't bulky, but has a nice warm lining, keeps out the wind and the rain, and is machine-washable. Personally, I don't like a hood on my jacket. They block my peripheral vision, and they always fall down anyway—I prefer a hat and a scarf, but I'll get into that in a later post. Make sure to hang it inside-out when you get back from your run, too.
Shoes: This is where I deviate quite a bit from the conventional wisdom. I run in hiking shoes, not running shoes. They're heavier, and not very flexible, but my shoes—Keen Alamosas, if you're curious—have a wide toe box, great support, are waterproof, and as far as I'm concerned, can't be beaten in stability. I ran all last year, four or five days a week, through the worst winter our area has seen in ten years. I did fall a few times, but never because of a slip on ice or snow. If these shoes can keep me safe through that, you bet they have my endorsement.
Regardless of what kind of shoes you decide on, make sure you get good ones, and consider going to a specialty running store to be properly fitted. Your shoes are literally your running foundation. Ill-fitting shoes lead to injuries.
Capri pants x 2: These are not only your spring/fall transition pants, but an important part of your deep winter gear as well. When yoga pants aren't enough, layer your capris over them. If you feel at all silly, just remember that you just basically made your own compression pants, without shelling out the $70+ compression pants usually cost. Capris usually run about $15 at places like tj maxx and Kohl's.
Shirts x 2: If you're smaller-framed, like me, this is where you can save a few bucks. Rather than shopping in the women's section, head over to the kids'. A large or XL will offer a similar fit as a women's medium, for around $10 less.
tl;dr: Start out with two pieces of each clothing type. Shop clearance and discount stores for clothing. Invest in a good bra, jacket, and pair of shoes.
I'll be back soon for some other running gear-type posts, so stay tuned!
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