The ONLY 3 Things You Need To Get Started Running

Starting anything new can be overwhelming.

Running even more so… with their flashy clothes, tech gear, sports watches and compression socks.  But don’t worry, you don’t need any of these things (and quite honestly, neither do most of the other people wearing them).

The list of things you need to get in order to start running is very short, and relatively inexpensive. So before you go buy a bunch of things, or postponeyour start date because you don’t have enough gear, read through this list, and then get out the door and on your way!

1)     Running Shoes

Yes, this one is a big deal.  A lot of newbies experience pain when they first start running, and often, it is just because they don’t have the correct shoes.

Running shoes are something that you want custom fitted by a professional.  The best way to do this is to research your local running stores, and then call around and ask who does FREE shoe fitting (yes, if you are going to buy their shoes, this should be a free service).  Make an appointment or head down to the store, and let the professionals evaluate you.  They should make at least 3-5 shoe suggestions, and may bring out up to a dozen different shoes for you to try on.

Try them all on.  Walk in them.  Jog up and down the sidewalk in front of the store.  The most important thing here is to get shoes that are COMFORTABLE!  If they are not comfortable in the store, they will not be comfortable on mile 10 of your long run in 4 months.  Shoes should not be something you have to “get used to”. 

Sticker shock warning:  Good running shoes can be pricey.  Expect to spend in the $100 - $150 range for this first pair of shoes.

Good citizens request:  Yes, shoes can be purchased cheaper from elsewhere.  However, if your local running shop took the time to fit you and teach you about your shoes, purchase this first pair from them to reward them for their efforts.  As an added benefit, your running store should offer a no-questions-asked return or exchange policy.  If you have run on those shoes for 2 weeks and still hate them, take them back and exchange them for a different pair.  You won’t get that kind of service from most online shops.

Thrifty tip:  Once you have this first pair, assuming that you like them, you can get all subsequent pairs from a cheaper online store.  Just save the make/model of the shoe that you purchased so that you can re-buy it again and again, but at a much lower price point.

2)     A good set of athletic/running bottoms

This is going to be critical to your comfort, as well as avoiding chafing.  You will want to get some running shorts or capris (note: if your thighs touch, go with capris!  You will thank me later.), that are a synthetic material.  NOT 100% COTTON!  You want something moisture wicking, and that will dry.  Cotton captures and holds all of the sweat you produce, and can make for a miserable, sweaty, chafing experience. 

Shopping tip:  Do not go buy a bunch of these.  Just get one.  You can wash it in between runs.  Once you have a few runs under your belt, you will know if you want another one, or to try a different garment.  Once you find something you like… STICK WITH IT!  If you had permission to dig through any runner’s closet, you would likely find 5 pair of almost the exact same running bottom that they wear every single run, and then a handful of others at the bottom of the drawer that they never wear.   Don’t collect these “never wear” items right off the bat by buying a bunch of different clothes.  

3)     A plan and a goal

The most critical element to any successful plan is to have a goal that you are striving for.  This goal needs to be a race or event in the upcoming future.  Pick something 3-5 months out to keep you motivated. 

Then, get a training plan.  You can grab my “One Week To Get Running Plan” here.  Or, just google some training plans to get you started.  However, I recommend that you go with one from a certified coach and that is targeted towards beginners.  One of the major causes of injury in new runners (and experienced ones for that matter) is over training!  That is where you get so ambitious to run that you are out doing it every day, and injure yourself by over stressing your body.  A good plan should show you how to cross train, strength train, and most importantly… REST!

Avoid making goals that are not running related, such as weight loss.  While almost all of us have a goal of losing weight running, if you start with that as a goal, you won’t be running much more than a few weeks and then you will get discouraged.  If you want to lose weight while running, GREAT!  Get on a good diet plan, get a good training plan to get to your goal race, and then go for it!  (Note:  Read my blog post “Why People Don’t Lose Weight Running, And What You Can Do To Be Sure That You Do!” here).

Sabrina Santos