Over the three and half years since I started running, I’ve bought a fair amount of kit. (Mostly shoes.) But there’s nothing like a new vest, pair of shorts, or clever belt / band / clip / other nifty gadget to lift one’s spirits, when rising early of a morning to face torrential rain and unobservant dogwalkers before breakfast.
So, I thought it might be handy to make a note of some of my favourite bits here—occasionally I’ve done a running gear round up in previous blog posts, but (in theory) this page should be easy to find and update with new little nuggets of running kit joy.
After the first few months of running, I visited my local running shop to get properly fitted for a decent pair of shoes, and if you haven’t already, I strongly advise you to do the same. My personal little feet saviours are ASICS Gel-Nimbus 16s.
So what makes me keep coming back for more of these little beauts?
- Masses of cushioning: I have had hip problems in the past, and I basically run on a sofa in these babies.
- Good grip: I’m almost exclusively a road runner (except when camping), so I want something with great shock absorbency and which will hold the road well.
- Great support, nice wide toe box: I have an average width foot, with very slight pronation, and these shoes have a very comfortable grip on me, and fit perfectly (after the first two or three tingly-toe runs). I always use the lace lock method of tying my shoes, for extra support.
- Funky range of colours: Because this is an old series of the shoe, I look all over the place online to find replacements, and size and model (and price!) are way more important to me than what they look like. That said, they’re usually they’re pretty bright and attractive. I still miss my first pair, in raspberry and lime… *sigh*
- All-weather: Brilliant in the cold and wet, although they can get a little warm in the summer months, because they’re so well cushioned.
On the downside…
- Poor availability: Unfortunately they are getting harder to come by. The range has now moved on through 17 and 18 to Gel-Nimbus 19s, and essentially the price stays broadly the same. The newest models are expensive because they’re new, and the older ones are expensive because they’re scarce. I’ve taken to buying them in multiples when I see a 16 series in my size and at a reasonable price (which is generally around £90-110).
- Upgrade options: In desperation, I bought a pair of 18s when I thought the 16s had disappeared for good, and they were okay… Good for summer running, as they were much breezier through the upper than the 16s, but consequently pretty bad for rain running, as my feet got soaked. Not a very big deal on a short run, but if you’re heading out for a couple of hours, or having a break between runs, you end up with cold, wet feet on a rainy day. And I live in the UK.
My main thing with running tops is that I like a good overall feeling of support, rather than something very loose (unless it’s super hot—and again, I refer you to the fact that I live in the UK, so that’s not a frequent problem). My favourite vest is dhb’s running singlet, which I get in bright colours for high visibility. These wear and wash really well, and they’re just no fuss.
As it gets cooler and rainier, I like to have something which will cover my arms but that’s not too heavy. I found this Dare 2B windshell jacket a year ago, and it’s perfect for early spring and late autumn, and even on chillier summer days, because it keeps the wind and rain off a little, and is so lightweight it doesn’t bother me to run with it tied around my waist when I’ve warmed up. I also love that it’s high-vis. Worth noting that it fits a little on the snug side, so go up a size when ordering.
For seriously cold weather, I would totally recommend this Mountain Warehouse Breeze top… except that they don’t make it any more. Gah! It was perfect: zip neck, so you can adjust your temperature easily, long enough sleeves to pull down over chilly wrists and even hands if you forgot gloves, a hood with open back to keep the air flowing through, and a great long line so your hips stay insulated. So, there’s what you could have won. This from dhb covers many of the same bases, at a very fair price (no hood though, boo).
For as long as possible through the year I run in shorts, because no matter how cold it gets, I find anything else just starts to feel hot and heavy (and not in a good way). My all time favourites are bog standard adidas three stripe polyester running shorts, with an inner breathable liner and a little pocket for your keys. Of course, I’ve had them so long I can’t find the same pair online… but this is roughly the sort of thing.
As it gets colder, capris become inevitable, I guess. I’ve yet to find a pair I truly love, but these compression capris from Under Armour come fairly close. They have those back-of-the-calf mesh bits to keep you cool, and a good sized pocket on the right hip (by good sized, I mean it fits my iPhone6S in a chunky case, so you can basically pack for a long haul flight in there). The only problem I have with these is that the legs never seem to be the same length (even without anything in the side pocket), which just feels plain weird. But it seems somewhat picky to call them out for that.
I completely failed to identify the full length running tights I’ve worn for the last three winters, all labels and branding having long since worn away! Which is a shame, as they’re clearly very durable and comfortable. But I’m bound to have to update the page soon, as I fear that this single pair (and their highly undesirable poor relations, a cheap black pair bought in a weak moment from Wiggle—avoid at all costs) will not last another season…
I’ve flirted with a few rivals, but there’s a reason that Shock Absorber call it the Ultimate Run Bra. You simply cannot beat this for support. It’s tight, of course, and if I dress for running first thing in the morning and don’t get the chance to run till the evening, I will probably weep with relief when I finally get in the shower. But still. It gets the job done.
One thing I notice, especially on long runs, is that if I’m wearing a very lightweight running top, even the URB may feel a little on bouncy side of comfort… I have considered trying out the Booband, but at £20, I’d like to know if anyone has any positive experiences before I invest?
As for socks, in general your common or garden sport sock does the job just fine. But I do have toes which are prone to rubbing, and for any run over about eight miles I love the Injinji No Show Lightweight Toe Socks (I always get mine from Feetus). They wash and wear well—I worried that they’d shrink horribly after the first wash, and I’ve never get my toes in again, but I needn’t have been concerned. They do feel a little strange if worn without shoes, but totally fine when worn in the conventional with-shoes-on-because-I’m-running-on-a-road-or-in-a-field manner, and they make a huge impact in reducing rubbing / blisters.
Bits on the edge
Gadgets I can’t run without include the Kamor running belt. I can’t find this to buy on Amazon anymore, but the Becko Lightweight looks similar. Essentially it’s the slimmest, lightest and least ostentatious running belt I could find, just big enough to take phone, keys and cash if necessary, and so compact it easily fits under various layers if you don’t want that tied-in-the-middle look. Obviously I am mocked for having a bum bag. But this is a non-negotiable for me—it means I don’t have to worry about holding any of the above essentials, and if I need to ditch short sleeved top layers, which I can’t tie around my waist, I knot them around the belt.
Another brilliant little bit of techjoy is the VicTsing bluetooth earpiece which has delighted me all summer. I know there’s debate about the safety of using earphones whilst running, and if I’m anywhere that feels remotely sketchy in terms of traffic or other predators, I run without any kind of audio for full awareness. But this single earpiece actually settles the argument quite nicely, as it means you can listen to something in your right ear, and have total uncluttered hearing in your left. The earpiece holds charge well, has never failed to connect instantly, sits in my ear comfortably without any nonsense, and it’s loud enough to hear (although top volume is necessary if there’s any external noise from wind or traffic). The price on Amazon has gone up a lot since I bought mine in July, but I’d look around for similar models, as this is a really good option for a road runner who can’t afford Aftershokz.
It’s not high tech, but my running gloves are so, so, so good when it really starts to get cold. I’ve been known to turn a 5k into a 10k just to go back and find one lost glove in the dark before, so highly prized are they to me! A decent pair of sweat-wicking lightweight gloves which will keep you warm and dry through the cold weather really make winter running more enjoyable. And (this is gross—look away now if of delicate nature) as I suffer from exercise-induced rhinitis, and am always super snotty when running, they double as a handy Kleenex. What? I told you it was gross. You have only yourself to blame. Bythe way, they wash well.
As soon as it starts to get gloomy in the mornings and evenings (and let’s face it, even lunchtimes some days), it’s really important to stay visible on your run. When you run daily, most of your kit is going through the wash regularly, and I sometimes find myself with only darker colours to choose from. This hi-vis reflective belt takes the stress out of deciding whether your top layers are bright enough to be seen easily (or the layers underneath, should you warm up), and it’s lightweight and comfortable. Plus, cheaper than buying loads of extra bright clothing!
The other bit of kit I use on absolutely every run is my smartwatch. I was very lucky to be given a Pebble Steel a couple of years ago, and then an upgrade to a Pebble Time, and I’ve found the ability to monitor my pace and mileage pretty much indispensable, along with phone/email/text/calendar notifications which I can turn on or off, depending on what’s going on in my day. This year, Pebble were bought out by FitBit, and my very handy watch’s days are numbered, so I’m currently scoping out possible replacements. The Garmin Forerunner 235? Apple Watch Series 3? Watch this space… (boom boom).