It’s one of the oldest sports and the ultimate combination of physical and mental endurance. This combination of timelessness and difficulty has made running one of the most complicated sports to shop for; there is literally an entire sub-industry dedicated to the business of running gear recommendations. In this gear guide, we’ll give you some practical advice for sussing out what matters and what doesn’t to help you find the right running tools for you.
- Comfort: An uncomfortable runner is a bad runner. The adjustments you make in your stride and your posture to compensate for uncomfortable gear have extreme consequences over long distances.
- Weight: Legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman once estimated that removing one ounce from a shoe translated into a 55-pound reduction of required lifting force over a one-mile. The takeaway: Just a little bit of weight can make the difference between a PR and a painful, mediocre race.
- Sweat-Resistance: Moisture-wicking goes hand-in-hand with lightweight design. If your shirt starts light but ends weighed down by sweat, you’ll end up running heavy.
- Anti-Chafe: You don’t want to end your run feeling raw. Prioritize anti-chafe gear, and your body will thank you.
It’s the holy grail of running gear questions: Which shoes will help me run faster, longer, better, healthier? The truth: It depends. No matter what any blog, athlete, or overzealous friend will tell you, there is no perfect running shoe. The best running shoe is one that lets you run comfortably and naturally. That won’t come from a brand or a cushion type. The best advice we can give is to go old school: go to a local running shoe store, talk to the experts there, try on as many pairs of shoes as possible and -- most importantly -- run in them. Finding the perfect running shoe is alchemy. Whether the right fit for you is a minimalist shoe like an Altra Escalante or a maximalist stability shoe like a Hoka Arahi or something in between, the best way to really know is to get some in-person guidance.
When it comes to running shorts, you’re looking for something light and sweat-wicking with pockets (nothing is worse than summer running with full, sweaty hands). Look no further than Ten Thousand’s Session Shorts. Ultralight, anti-chafe and ventilated for extra breathability, these shorts can take you from 10K to 100 miler (yes, we did it) without missing a stride.
The cardinal sin of running shirts is running in cotton. In a world filled with better options, avoid anything that is going to hold water weight and cause friction with your skin. Some will suggest that it’s a perfectly fine option for shorter runs; however, your objective for selecting your running gear should be to run how you’ll race, whenever possible. When you race, you’re going to be looking for something that is lightweight, ventilated and preferably anti-odor. When you race, you’re going to be looking for The Distance Shirt.
They say the best defense is a good offense. That is doubly true for avoiding chafing while running. Don’t just leave it to anti-chafing cream to do the heavy lifting (though do buy Squirrel’s Nut Butter). Go on the offensive against chafing by investing in good baselayers. Whether it’s a pair of compression shorts in the warm months or tights in the winter, anti-slip baselayers will keep your run from rubbing you the wrong way.
If you’re serious about becoming a better runner, you should invest in your recovery. And if you’re investing in your recovery gear, you need to get a good foam roller. While an entry-level foam roller can do the job, stepping up the price tag slightly can get you a foam roller that will go the extra mile in keeping you on your feet month after month. The best bang for your buck foam roller out there is the Triggerpoint GRID® Foam Roller. It’s the go-to foam roller of physical therapists, and it’ll do the trick for you.