Another guest post to close this month of fitness fun! Liana is a runner in the Boston area and we connected via the Boston Bloggers Facebook group. She blogs on RunToMunch and can be found on twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Check out her blog on more running adventures and tips.
Living in Boston, you can’t help but notice all the runners. Whether it stems from the Boston Marathon history, or the large collection of coeds wanting to stay fit and look their best, running is something that’s very easy to get into despite our drastic weather. And with the large increase in running trends around the country, I’m sure even your best friend’s grandmother is training for her first 5K.
Despite, the popularity in running, it can still be confusing on trying to figure out what you really need. Marketing departments of popular brands would love to have you spend all your money on their products regardless of whether it’s something “you need” or is “nice to have.” So instead, I wanted to break down the many options to things I personally think are needed, and everything else would go in the “nice to have” bucket.
Shoes - You really can’t run without a good pair of shoes. I often see friends who are starting their first couch to 5K program run in their old kicks from middle school and then wonder why they get shin splints, or weird aches and pains. Think about it, how many other pairs of shoes are you wearing that are that old? Most likely none, so why are you wearing a decade old shoe to run? Also, your walking gait and your running gait tends to be different, so I highly recommend once you find your magical shoe, to keep it running only, and use another pair for walking.
I can’t tell you what shoe would be perfect you, since everyone runs a little different. However, there’s plenty of great running stores like Marathon Sports or CitySports that has a treadmill you can run on to test out the shoes during a fitting.
Cheap Tip – Running shoes tend to be “updated” every year with a new model. Generally the changes are small such as 1/10 of an oz lighter, or mostly cosmetic designs. I usually check the sale section at the store, or Amazon for prior year’s model. For example, I love, love Mizunos. They work for me. Their latest shoe, the Wave Rider 17 retails for $115; meanwhile, I got the Wave Rider 16 for $70 at my local DSW.
Clothes – At the end of the day it’s all about smart layering. Put away all those cotton shirts you get for free at your local 5K. They’re not even that pleasant in the summer and in the winter they will kill your run. Cotton absorbs your sweat and no matter how cold you are, you’ll be sweating. Cotton will absorb that sweat and never dry. Being covered in wet fabric while its 25 degrees is a sure way to get sick.
How many layers you need, at which temperatures will vary. It’s very individual and might change as you grow in your running. Furthermore, a sunny 20 degree day to me is more pleasant than a dark and windy 40 degree day. I would go by the “feels like” forecast and dress to run as you would had it been 20 degrees warmer.
What I wear:
40 degrees – Single long sleeve & capris, socks
30 degrees – Capris, maybe calf sleeves, short sleeve, long sleeve, socks
20 degrees – Tights, short sleeve, long sleeve, and a pull over or wind breaking jacket, gloves, hat, sock liners, socks
10 degrees – leggings, tights, short sleeve, long sleeve, pullover and a wind breaking jacket, doubled up on gloves, hat, sock liners, socks
I personally don’t go outside if it gets colder than 10 degrees. Luckily, it’s rarely colder than that in Boston. But as mentioned again, your layer decisions and cold decisions will vary. On my first year of running, I barely went outside when it was below 30 and would be bundled up the moment it hit 50. On my second year, I wouldn’t go outside if it was below 20 and now it’s 10. You slowly build a tolerance. During my last 5K a guy ran shirtless in 23 degree weather.
Cheap Tip - Where you buy your layer will be the biggest impact on your wallet. Most of my workout clothes are purchased at Target, Marshalls or Old Navy. When I’m at Marshall’s, after I find something in my size, I check to see what’s in the fabric because sometimes they sneak cotton in there. I do tend to look at more recognized brands as well while there. Most of my collection of running tights and running skirts are Nike at 50-70% of the original suggestion retail price. The most important part will be finding a brand that fits you well. You don’t want your tights to be loose in odd places because that may lead to chaffing. Stores like Marshalls and DSW also have great deals on socks. I load up on packs of Under Armour socks that are way cheaper than at a normal retail shop.
Reflective Gear – In addition to being cold, it feels like it’s always dark. If you run before or after work, it’ll most likely be dark. If you live around a city with enough lighting, you probably don’t need to carry a flashlight/headlamp for your own light source; however, you should always have reflective gear on so cars and bikes can see you.
I like the Nathan vest available on Amazon for $23, but you could find many similar products at Marathon Sports. If you do find that you need a headlamp or a flashlight; that is where I would make the splurge. A good headlamp or flashlight will last you for years to come and will make the difference between a tolerable run and a great run. I prefer to run with a flashlight like the Fenix PD 35 which I purchased off amazon for $75. If you’re looking for a headlamp, definitely stop by a store like REI to see how each one feels before making the purchase.
Technology – We’re all slaves of statistics in one way or another. Running isn’t nearly as fun if you don’t have a number to brag about. Sure it seems like everyone has a running watch and they really are nice to have; but are completely unnecessary. I trained for my first and second marathon with just a cell phone app. RunKeeper, which is available on Iphone and Android is free, tracks your time, pace, mileage and can even give you audio cues if you’re running too slow or too fast. Even now with my watch, I still go back and forth between the app. depending on my mood and training. The audio cues is something my watch can’t replicate as well. Think of it as your own personal coach.
Those other things – I always wear sunblock and SPF lip balm when I’m running outside. Even if it’s cold and cloudy, the sun is still out there shining, doing its thing to age your skin and all that jazz. I also tend to wear more Aquaphor in the winter. Something about wearing more layer, leads to some awkward chaffing. I put some on in the places I tend to chaff such as where my tights end at my ankles. You can also use Vaseline. There is a product out there called body-glide that will do the same thing, but it’ll cost you a little more than Aquaphor or Vaseline and I personally don’t find it that much better.
What else? Now that you got your shoes, your clothes, and your reflective vest, all you need is a desire to go outside and have fun! It’s not really about the distance or pace, it’s just going out there and enjoying the moment you’re in. Running is fun, don’t make it into something you have to do, but instead something you want to do!