Running Gear for Beginners: The Essential, Helpful and Fun

A running watch can help you know your pace, encourage you to run faster, or run negative splits (running the second half of a run faster than the first half). Watches can range from a simple Timex 1440, costing around $20, to a several-hundred dollar Garmin with GPS and automatic splits. If you truly want to get faster then you will need a watch so you can measure your pace and progress.

More: 4 Speed Workouts for Beginners

A smartphone loaded with a few running apps can also be a great help. You can even use your smartphone in place of a watch. Any standard smartphone will work, and you will probably want to buy an armband to hold it while you run. You can find an armband online at multiple sites or in your local running store. 

Now that you have your smartphone ready to hit the road with you, you'll need an app or two. If you're doing a C25K program, definitely download one of the available apps either from the Couch to 5K site or Jeff Galloway. You may also be interested in RunKeeper, Endomondo or DailyMile to help with tracking your speed, distance and progress. And last but not least, if you're into raising money for charity simply by running, check out Charity Miles. It's a free app that lets you raise money for a number of charities every time you run.

When your runs are on the shorter side, say up to 5 miles, you don't need a runner's belt, but it can be helpful to carry keys, ID or some cash in case of emergencies. As you increase your distance, you will need a belt to carry fuel and/or water. There are all different kinds of belts. Some will carry water bottles, some energy gels, and almost all have a pocket for small personal items. Some inexpensive, good fuel belts can be found at SPIbelt.com

More: Best Long-Run Hydration Habits

Another item you will need as you run longer is some sort of fuel for your body. You are looking for a simple carbohydrate that your system can easily absorb to keep you fueled on your longer runs. You can try energy gels such as GU or Honey Stinger packets, energy chews like Shot Bloks or even candy like jellybeans or gummy bears. Stay away from chocolate, as the fat content will not work as well as the sugary candy, and can upset your stomach.

More: Eating for Endurance

One last piece of gear that can be helpful as you continue running: a foam roller. A f long tube that helps you massage and stretch your muscles after you run, a foam roller helps to break up the lactic acid in your muscles as well. You don't run with your foam roller, but rather use it after you run to help your body recover faster.

More: 10 Foam Roller Exercises for Runners

Fun Extras 

There are so many things that can be fun to have as a runner. You could try bright running sleeves to give you a pick-me-up on your runs (and keep your arms warm when you don't feel like wearing long sleeves), or perhaps you'd have fun running a 5K in a costume. 

More: Bring Fun Into Your Run—Wear a Costume

The one fun thing that I truly recommend adding to your running "gear" is some good music. If you're already running with a smartphone, load it up with some cool tunes or download your favorite music onto your mp3 player. Running with some good, upbeat music can really help your pace and give you that extra edge to keep on going. Give it a try!

More: How Music Can Enhance Your Workout

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