Top 8 Essentials for Runners

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Whether you’re a seasoned pavement pounder, a weekend warrior or just starting out on your journey, every runner needs this list of essentials. Get everything you need for running success with this quick and easy checklist.

1. Running Shoes

Running essential factor: 10/10
Estimated cost: £60-120
Recommended time spent on purchase: 1.5-3 hours

A great pair of running shoes is the single most important item any runner can own. Why? Not only are running shoes with you for each run and play a huge role in performance, they’re also vital in avoiding injury.

When it comes to running shoes, I have two main pieces of advice.

Number one: Don’t buy and wear shoes designed for another sport like basketball or tennis. Running shoes are designed with extra cushioning and padding to withstand the repetitive pounding of the pavement. This provides your ankles, legs, knees and feet with much needed protection and safeguards against injury. If you wear tennis shoes on a 7-mile workout, you’re soon going to find it taxing on your legs.

Number two: Physically try the running shoes before purchasing them. You might like the look and style of a pair of running shoe but unless you try them on you won’t know if they’re the ones for you.

Do some research on possible shoes, make a list of those you like, then go visit a local store to try them on. If you visit a decent running store, they’ll have a form analyzing machine which analyses your running style to provide information on the type of shoe that would be best. You can also work with a store assistant to find the right shoes for you.

Doing research on running shoes and visiting a shop to make a purchase can be time consuming and more costly than simply going online and clicking ‘buy’ on shoes that seem good. However, this extra effort is time and money well spent.

I purchased a pair of shoes online when I was starting out and immediately had to get an additional pair because they weren’t suited to my foot shape and were hindering my performance. Now, I always take extra time and effort to physically go and visit a store before making a purchase and I’ve never looked back.

I discovered my last few pairs this way and have been happy every time.

For more information about what criteria you should apply when selecting a running shoe, check out this useful guide by Runner’s World.


2. Sports watch

Essential factor: 9/10
Estimated cost: £50-£300
Recommended time spent on purchase: 1.5 – 3 hours

They say knowledge is power, and that’s certainly the case with sports watches. Arming you with a stream of performance stats, providing challenging workouts and having capability to connect to other applications like cadence monitors, sports watches are a runner’s best friend.

These handy wrist computers are worn like an ordinary watch and revolutionise the way you run. I currently have a Garmin 735XT and I can confidently say that, after my ASICS Men’s Gel-Nimbus 22 shoes, it’s my most treasured bit of running gear.

While every sports watch is slightly different depending on brand, the model and the price paid, their functionality is pretty consistent across the board. Most running watches allow you to:

  • Track how fast you’re going
  • Monitor how far you’ve gone
  • Track where you’ve gone – Most sports watches have GPS connectivity
  • Connect to popular apps for athletes, like Strava, and upload detailed data to compare with friends and family
  • Track your heart rate, calories burned, and steps taken
  • Use it for other sports like swimming and cycling
  • Connect to other devices such as the Garmin running Dynamics Pod for a more detailed breakdown of form during a workout


3. Technical sports tops

Essential factor: 8/10
Estimated cost: £15-£40 per top
Recommended time spent on purchase: 10-30 minutes

Technical tops are essential for runners because they’re designed for physical activity. These specially made tops feature mesh panels to allow breathability, are soft and comfortable and are sweat wicking (they move moisture away from your skin).

It’s recommended to have at least two types of each sports top for a range of weather scenarios. T-shirts, vests, and long-sleeved tops will all serve different purposes for different times of the year. You wouldn’t want to wear a slim fit long-sleeved garment in the middle of summer, the same way you wouldn’t wear a baggy vest in a chilly winter.





4. Lightweight sports jacket

Essential factor: 7/10
Estimated cost: £20- £60
Recommended time spent on purchase: 20-50 minutes

It’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows in the sky when you’re running. A lightweight sports jacket will make training in cold, wet, miserable weather a better experience. After having been for runs in sub 5-degree temperatures, I can confidently say my lightweight jacket was my best friend.

There’s plenty of sports jackets available on the market. Whichever you decide to buy, make sure the jacket fulfil these crucial criteria:

  • Breathability – The jacket lets sweat escape and provides ventilation.
  • Waterproof – Repels rain and keeps you drier for longer.
  • Lightweight – Enables you to run without being weighed down.
  • Reflective panels – Ensures you’ll stay seen wherever you’re running.


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5. Headphones

Essential factor: 7/10
Estimated cost: £20-£100
Recommended time spent on purchase: 30-60 minutes

Not everyone will view this item as an essential, but I personally couldn’t be without my sports headphones.

I love going for a run because it means I can put my headphones on and jump into the world of a good audiobook, podcast, or some fantastic music.

Lots of people ask me ‘how can I make running more fun? I’ve tried to get into running but I just find it so dull!’ The first thing I recommend is to run while listening to something enjoyable.

Running on its own is amazing for you; you lose weight, become fitter, happier, and have more energy. But, why not add to the benefits of running by listening to something incredible?

For example, listening to a non-fiction audiobook provides the opportunity to learn about almost anything whilst you run. A foreign language, politics, cooking recipes, history, biographies of famous people. There’s an audiobook to cover every taste, and they can be listened to whilst you run. I use Audible for my audiobooks but there’s plenty of other platforms.

Podcasts whilst running provide great entertainment or, like audiobooks, can teach you something new. If you don’t want to listen to someone talk whilst on the move, opt for upbeat music from one of your favorite bands instead.


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6. Running Backpack

Essential factor: 7/10
Estimated cost: £30 – £100
Recommended time spent on purchase: 45-60 minutes

A nice accessory for long distance runners to have in their arsenal is a running backpack. These are special backpacks designed for comfortably carrying supplies across long distances.

Running backpacks are equipped with wide padded shoulder straps to distribute weight evenly whilst on the go.

Containing between 8-12 liters of space on average, essential supplies like water bottles, energy gels, first aid kits, head torches, mobile phones and a portable charger for your GPS running watch can be housed within these backpacks.



7. Sports Hat / Cap

Essential factor: 7/10
Estimated cost: £10 – £30
Recommended time spent on purchase: 20 minutes

Worn by a relatively small proportion of runners, sports caps offer many great advantages that should seriously be considered.

Firstly, they draw sweat away from the head whilst ventilating cool air in through the mesh fabric which both keeps you cool and stops sweat drenching your head.

Secondly, sports caps offer vital UV ray protection for those with bald or thinning scalps. Essential for not getting sun burnt during a run on a hot day. Safety first, runners second!

Thirdly, sports caps help keep the rain out of your face when it’s raining giving you more visibility and comfort.

They’re relatively cheap to pick up and, once bought, you’ll be good to go for many runs.



8. Sports sunglasses

Essential factor: 9/10
Estimated cost: £10 – £30
Recommended time spent on purchase: 20 minutes

Usually regarded as an optional part of a runner’s kit, sports sunglasses offer huge benefits to those who wear them.

First and foremost, sports sunglasses offer ultraviolet light protection. UV light is a source of radiation emitted from the sun and it’s strong. Extraordinarily strong.

Not only can sunlight temporarily blind you after a quick glance, too much UV light to the eyes can risk conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration developing. Sports sunglasses protect against these risks by providing a layer of protection against the harmful UV rays.

Sports sunglasses also provide a physical layer of protection from anything that may find its way into your eyes. Dust, grit, and insects (yes, the dreaded fly in the eye) can find their way into our eyes on a run.

Not only is this incredibly uncomfortable and problematic for performance, there’s the risk of your eye being damaged e.g. sustaining a scratch. Ouch. Sports sunglasses protect against this risk, keeping your eyes free from things that shouldn’t be there.

Let’s be honest, sports sunglasses are also incredibly stylish. If you can look cool whilst getting in your workout, why not?


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