But, the longer you run, and the deeper you get into the sport, the more you come to realize that there are quite a few accessories that can make your daily miles a lot more enjoyable. Here are 11 of our picks.
Timex1 of 12
Yes, I know you can't ditch your fancy GPS watch, but a trusty Timex is my go-to companion for race day. Skyscrapers, tall trees, remote locations and technological glitches can all cause your GPS watch to go haywire during your race--leaving you flying blind with no feedback on your pace or mileage.
Even if your GPS works perfectly, getting constant feedback on your pace, especially during a longer race, can cause you to waste tons of energy trying to adjust (speed up! slow down!). Wearing a simpler watch means you must rely on your body's own internal sense of pace and effort . A non-GPS watch is also a fantastic accessory for your easy or recovery days, so you aren't tempted to speed up to hit your desired average pace.
Sunglasses2 of 12
I used to think sunglasses were reserved professional runners, but average folks need them just as much. Wearing shades helps prevent you from squinting, helping to relax your facial muscles and prevent headaches. More importantly, they protect the eyes from harmful UV rays.
FlipBelt3 of 12
Think running with your phone in a cumbersome arm band won't affect your gait? Think again. Rather than place extra weight and pressure on one side of the body, mile after mile, consider a popular accessory that holds your stuff while distributing the weight across the core. The FlipBelt can hold large phones, keys, water bottles, gels or snacks securely, and it even comes in a reflective style for extra visibility. And, unlike pesky arm bands that slide and chafe, the FlipBelt fits comfortably over clothing without riding up or bouncing around.
Quality Socks4 of 12
We know that good shoes are a must for runners, but good socks are just as important. There are several different brands marketed towards runners, such as Ballega, Feetures and Injinji. Made with technical sweat-wicking fibers, blister-preventing design and just the right amount of cushioning, these high-tech beauties put cotton tube socks to shame.
Peppermints5 of 12
Can we count these as an accessory? We should, because peppermints can save the day for runners going the distance. With an upset stomach and many miles to go, a small mint can help calm the tummy when the digestive system is placed under stress for a long period of time.
Mittens6 of 12
Keeping your hands warm can mean the difference between a great run and a miserable, soul-sucking slog. Mittens will provide more warmth than gloves alone, and if you invest in a pair with a soft cloth outer layer, you've got a way to wipe your nose in a pinch. (Hey, it happens!)
Hand Warmers7 of 12
Hand warmers are another must-have winter accessory when the temp on your run drops below 20 degrees. Toasty-warm hands make the rest of your body feel warmer, as well.
Sports Bra8 of 12
This one's key for the ladies. A good sports bra that you are sized for--not just any old undergarment you find on sale--can make you infinitely more comfortable. Running is a high-impact activity with repetitive movements, and lack of support can result in soreness and pain. And, let's be real: Nobody wants to worry about bouncing and chafing while trying to set a new PR.
NipGuards or New-Skin9 of 12
Men, you need to protect your chest, too. Dried sweat and body salt can act like sandpaper between your nipples and shirt, causing abrasions. NipGuards feature a special adhesive to help them stay put and prevent chafing during endurance events. New-Skin Liquid Bandage is another solution, and just a thin coating of the liquid acts as a protective barrier.
Foam Roller10 of 12
Ask any modern runner and you'll hear a similar refrain: The foam roller is a must-have tool. Also known as self-myofascial release, the roller utilizes your body weight to massage your muscles and break up adhesions in the fascia (the web of tissue that surrounds each muscle), allowing for faster recovery from workouts and healthier, more supple muscles.
Dog Running Harness11 of 12
If your best running friend happens to run on four legs, then you need a harness made specifically for running. They come in all different sizes and colors, and will keep Fido happy to run with you for miles. For example, the lightweight Adventure Dog Harness by Kurgo is padded in all the right places to reduce strain and prevent rubbing.