You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to run. But picking the right apparel, shoes, and accessories can make your strides more comfortable — and depending on the conditions, safer.
What you wear will largely depend on the weather, both at the start of your run and what it’s expected to be when you finish, according to Morris. But remember, you’ll build body heat as you move, so you’ll likely want to dress in more lightweight clothing than you would wear if you were just going outside for a walk or other more leisurely activity. As a rule of thumb, she suggests dressing as if the temperature outside is 10 degrees warmer than it actually is.
If you tend to be on the warmer side, she suggests dressing like it’s 15 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. If you get chilly easily, go in the other direction and dress as if it’s 5 degrees warmer, she says.
“Layers are always great,” she adds. But do opt for moisture-wicking fabrics (like merino wool, bamboo, and some polyesters designed for this), she says. “In the winter, jackets with zippers help regulate body temperature like a thermostat; up if you’re cool and down if you’re warm.”
And remember, you don’t necessarily need specialized gear to get out there and get running. If you’re getting started and the temperature is moderate, it’s fine to opt for a T-shirt and sweatpants combo, Morris adds.
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The equipment that will take you a long way (literally) when you’re running is a good pair of running shoes. Ideally, it’s best to have your stride checked at a running gear store, says Thomas. They’ll evaluate your running stride and how your foot hits the ground, and recommend types of shoes that would work best for you.
But not everyone has one within driving distance. If you don’t, or you’re shopping online, Thomas suggests starting with shoes described as “neutral,” which means they have an average amount of arch support (rather than an arch support that corrects for your feet either rolling inwards or outwards as they strike the ground). And choose the amount of cushioning in a shoe that feels comfortable. After you’ve been running for a while, you’ll get a feel for whether you want more cushioning or less.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also offers a great reference guide for how to select the best running shoe for you.
Sunscreen and Other Health and Safety Tips
In both warm and cool weather, sunscreen should be a priority. The ACSM recommends applying sunscreen of at least SPF 30 at least 30 minutes before heading out into the sun, and reapplying every hour if you’re sweating a lot.
One more gear consideration is safety, Thomas adds. You can put reflective strips on your shoes and clothes if you’re a dawn or dusk runner, and wear bright clothing. Also, stay in well-lit areas whenever possible and keep your phone secured in a zipped pocket.