For first timers a guide on the gear you need to run. It covers shoes, type and fit, clothes and chafing

What gear do you need to run?

If you are starting out then read this to get the low down on the gear that you need to run.

You do not need to dress like an Olympian or those serious club / recreational runners you see at ParkRun. There is however a reason why Olympians have all the gear: its comfortable and it works for them. You should work on the same principle: What is comfortable and works for you.


Depending on your running speed and technique your shoes can take a load of 2x to 5x your body weight per stride. Even at an easy pace this might be 3x your body weight. So for me a 70Kg (154lb) runner, my shoes absorb a load of 210kg (462lb) each and every stride! Therefore, good shoes are essential to look after your feet and those joints taking the load further up the chain (knees and hips).

  • Go to a good shoe shop, one that has experienced staff that fit shoes specifically for runners. One that analyses your foot strike. They will base their shoe recommendation on.
  • Correct shoe size and width, allowing enough wriggle room at the front of the shoe (1cm). This is important to allow necessary space as you go from foot strike to take off. As you take off the toe space will reduce.
  • Correct fit at the heels and ankles. With the laces done up it should be difficult to take the foot out of the shoe. Also check the rear seam in the heal. If this is too prominent it can lead to blisters and chafing. There should also be a small gap below the ankle joint and the top of the shoe. If there is no gap this can also lead to blisters and chafing on the underside of your ankle.
  • Your foot strike: Are you a supinator (your foot doesn’t roll inwards, but rolls to the outside), neutral (ideal, no over pronation) or over-pronator (your foot rolls excessively inward during the foot strike).
  • Lacing: There are various methods, the key is to is to ensure that you have good control of your foot and that it will contact and roll properly as you run. It’s good to think of your lacing in two parts: the forefoot and foot arch. The lacing over the forefoot can often be less tight to ensure that you foot is not too squashed. The arch area needs to be a little tighter. Your toes shouldn’t slide back and forth, but your foot can relax a little.
  • Try to test drive shoes inside for a while. Most reputable shoe shops will take returns if they are not soiled and can be re-sold.
  • Do not compromise fit for cost, otherwise you will pay the cost when you run.
  • Break new shoes in slowly, by alternating them with your old pairs.
  • If you find a shoe that you like – stick to it.
  • Pretty and bright colours might look nice, but they will not help you run any faster
  • Bigger people require more support in a shoe.
  • A well-made supportive running shoe will last somewhere around 800km (480 miles).

     Super Shoes

    A note on Super Shoes and different shoes for different types of training, this topic merits its own blog. However, in brief, there is plenty of research that certain super shoes (usually with some form of carbon sole) do allow you to go faster (but only marginally, up to 4-8s per k). However, as a beginner or recreational runner I always recommend finding a comfortable supportive shoe first. Once your running progresses look at the more expensive super shoes. Most Super shoes have a useful life of between 200 and 400km (120 to 240 miles).


    Buy breathable socks that wick the moisture away from your foot. There are many synthetics out there that do this. It is worth spending the extra money to get good socks. They will help prevent blisters. Remember to wear your running socks when you are shoe shopping


    • Colour – no not how pretty it looks, rather a lighter colour, that reflects sunlight and therefore heat to keep you cooler and safer. Car drivers also see light colours more easily.
    • Breathability – like the socks, buy clothing that wicks away moisture from the skin and allows it to evaporate from the garment surface. This will keep you cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
    • Fit – try to get loose fitting clothing as it helps the air circulate, thereby helping the body control temperature. Tight clothing can also lead to chafing.
    • Cap – light coloured, breathable caps and visors are best. They have a double purpose, shielding the sun but also acting as a sweat band.
    • Light weight rain proof jacket can be useful to stay dry and warm during wet and windy weather. You can always take this layer off if it gets too hot


    • It happens to all runners at some point, to avoid this.
    • Thigh chafing: wear thigh length cycle-type lycra-shorts, on their own or under running shorts.
    • Vaseline is the runner’s friend and is often used on the insides of the thighs, backs of the armpits, anywhere chafing is likely.
    • In cold weather it is often useful for men to put sticking plasters over their nipples. Those that wear sports bras usually eliminate this problem.


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