Over the last few months I have had several people ask me various questions about running gear so I thought I’d make a list.  Because I like lists.

  • clothes: C9 by Champion, available at Target.  It is the equal of Under Armour in quality and effectiveness at sweat-wicking, but less than half the price.  Tank tops, shorts, running skirts, underwear…it’s all good.  You really cannot go wrong with this brand (it is regular Champion stuff, only available at Target for less than a sporting goods store).  They also usually have some semblance of pockets in the shorts/skirts, which for some reason is not as common in women’s clothing as men’s but a welcome addition.
  • sports bra: also C9 by Champion.  I am doing this one separate from clothing because it is nigh impossible to find a good sports bra.  These are sweat-wicking, comfortable, and SEAMLESS (on the bottom part).  Let me just say that from personal experience, chafing caused by a sports bra seam is particularly painful.  And seamless sports bras are extremely uncommon (or they were a year ago, anyway); these are affordable to boot.
  • socks: Balega.  Hands down, the best socks for running.  They are pricier than others but once you run with these you will never go back.  They have a lot of neat features but I would like to highlight their seamless toe box – if you are prone to blisters, or running distance, you want to do anything you can to reduce opportunities for blisters.
  • shoes: this one’s very personal, so I recommend checking out the Runner’s World shoe reviews and narrowing down ones that might work for you before heading out to a store to try them on.  I personally stick with New Balance in general because they come in widths and my feet are beyond narrow.  I actually have to rig up the lacing on narrow shoes to keep the heels from slipping.
  • watch/distance monitor: I used a Nike watch with foot pod which has since been discontinued.  It was ok for marathon training, but I bought it for strictly that purpose.  It has to be calibrated and then re-calibrated any time the battery dies, which happened a few times while I was training.  And it started getting wonky towards the end of training, so I’m glad I didn’t have my future running hopes pinned on it.  If I was buying any sort of distance monitoring system for long-term I would probably save up and buy Garmin.  They are basically the end-all of distance monitoring; they have very expensive GPS systems and also cheaper foot pod ones, but even those are still pricey.
  • tunes: I use ipod shuffle, which has worked fine, and I just use the normal cheapo earbuds that came with it.  No problems from rain or sweat dripping (A LOT of sweat).  I have nicer earphones which I use with my regular ipod so I was not too concerned about anything happening to those.  I can do a separate post about my playlist – which is excellent, if I do say so myself – if anyone so desires. 🙂
  • sunglasses: hingeless Maui JimsHere is the pair I have (they have 3 hingeless styles)…and yes, they are quite expensive.  I also use them as my everyday sunglasses.  Here is what I love about them:
  1. they fit my face.  I have a small face and sunglasses (or any glasses) always look too big for me.
  2. they are super, super lightweight.  I can’t even tell when I have them on, and they don’t pinch behind my ear or give me a headache, which is why I avoided sunglasses for so long.
  3. they don’t bounce around.  At all.
  4. they are polarized.
  5. they are saltwater proof.  They did this for seawater, but let me just say that if you are training for a marathon in the summer in Texas, any “equipment” you use will be coming into contact with enough sweat that this is a concern.
  • visor: I use a Nike one.  The main point is to keep sweat from running down into the eyes.  It’s lightweight and made out of a sweat-wicking, quick-drying fabric.
  • drink: my favorite is Gatorade Rain (I think they recently changed the name?) Lime.  But it has more sugar in it, which is why it tastes better.  Normal Gatorade is gross, in my opinion.  I did start using Gatorade Endurance Formula when I got into really high miles and did notice a difference (it has extra electrolytes), but it doesn’t taste good at all thanks to the extra salt.  Actually my real favorite is cold water, but it is not super smart to only drink water when you are running long distances.
  • snack: I like to stick with real food.  I hate those little gummy things even more than Gatorade.  Especially when they get all warm in your pocket…ugh.  I could puke just thinking about it.  Sometimes I could eat mini peanut butter-pretzel sandwiches, but really the best is cold orange slices.  So refreshing, and easily digested too.
  • after-run meal: eggs.  Egg-in-a-hole is what I always craved after a long run, and thankfully I have a husband who was sweet enough to make it for me while I was laying on the floor, unresponsive.  Actually I just craved eggs through my entire training; I could have eaten egg-in-a-hole for breakfast, an omelette for lunch, and quiche for dinner every day.  Unfortunately my husband does not care for quiche.  Anyway it turns out eggs have the best protein for your body, so egg-in-a-hole is actually a really great recovery food thanks to the combination of protein and carbs.
  • “recovery drink”: chocolate milk, for the protein/carb blend.  I could not drink this right after running, but usually I would finish running, cool down (or just sit down), munch on some orange slices, sip some water or Gatorade, and drive home…and usually by then chocolate milk did not sound so repulsive.  I could drink this while waiting for my egg-in-a-hole to be cooked, unless it was one of the days I walked in the door, dropped my stuff in the floor, and collapsed in the floor until egg-in-a-hole appeared.  But the remainder of the day was definitely better if I could manage to make chocolate milk prior to collapsing.  Consuming protein shortly after running helps your muscles recover, so you have less soreness and stiffness later.
  • training plan: made by FIRST (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training).  I LOVED this plan.  It is very doable, especially if you are injury-prone like me, but I definitely felt challenged every single day.  You can print out their plans for different goal distances here but if you are wanting to run a marathon I highly recommend also reading the book Run Less Run Faster, which explains the science behind the design of the program and also gives some very good (but very challenging) cross training workouts.
  • inspiration: run for something meaningful, like World Vision.  Being accountable to sponsors – not to mention the poor little kids in Africa who don’t have clean water to drink – is plenty of motivation when you don’t feel like running any more.  If you are interested in running a marathon but are intimidated, Nova did an hour-long program called Marathon Challenge.  They spent 9 months training a group of previously sedentary people and got them in shape to run the Boston Marathon.  It is quite good.  If I can do it, and those people can do it, anybody can do it.  It is a good place to start if you need some inspiration/motivation.
  • online resource: Runner’s World.  It is a treasure trove of information.

All in all, for a sport that really only requires one “special” piece of equipment (shoes), this can be a very expensive hobby.