Beginner

  • Running shoes. Basic, inexpensive ones that you probably already have will be fine to begin with.
  • Socks are important to get right and can be inexpensive. Make sure no seams will rub and don't wear old towelling ones that have been through the washing machine too many times - they'll rub your feet raw. 
  • Jogging bottoms / shorts / tights. Just ensure they don't flap around to cause a tripping hazard.
  • Tee shirt, preferably brightly coloured for visibility. A cotton tee is OK if you're not yet doing enough to work up a sweat, but as soon as your forays become more vigorous buy a "wicking" synthetic tee. 
  • High viz gilet if running near roads.
  • Sports bra if female.
  • Mobile phone with a running app. Use this instead of a watch. It'll record your routes, times and even prompt you to take photos of sights. Many apps provide a decent log and their whole packages are rather motivating. Also, taking your phone on a run aids safety.
  • Stash belt for phone, keys, maybe a fiver. This isn't really essential but the belts or armbands are relatively cheap.
  • Headphones? Many people find music enriches their runs & if you've already got your phone with you, you've already a source of music. However, use these with caution. Preferably insert only one earpiece and remove entirely for road junctions or anywhere where you may be at risk.

 

Moving On

Once you've decided that this running lark is for you no doubt you'll buy a few running magazines and either start lusting after all the lovely techie stuff they advertise or you'll grow befuddled - surely running ought not to require much more than a pair of shoes? One thing you can be sure of is that regular exercise means your sports clothes are constantly being washed and you might be struggling to find clean dry kit. So what else might you want/need?

  • Second pair of running shoes, this time properly fitted with the help of a shop assistant who can assess your gait. Some shops have treadmills to keep the shoes grime free as you try them out; others will ask you to run up and down the store or pavement. By this stage you may have realised that you prefer running on a particular terrain e.g. trail. If so, tell the shop assistant as they can recommend shoes best suited to that surface.
  • Lots of socks.
  • Shorts, tights and tees* with wee pockets for a key, swipe card etc. Not every item of clothing needs these, but you'll soon want a pocket available on any running ensemble.
  • Decent jacket to protect from wind and rain. Try before you buy, ensuring that the fabric is sufficiently flexible to be comfortable. Bright yellow with reflective bits? Perfect.
  • Gloves, hat and maybe a buff (neck gear). Cheap light weight fleece options from the local supermarket are great.
  • Water bottle, hydration belt or backpack. On longer runs always carry water and maybe some blister plasters.
  • Resistance bands. These stretchy plastic bands can be very important for helping develop strength in your lateral hip muscles. Other mini-gym equipment should be progressively added. 

*Where you're going to sweat into clothing fabric, you need it to "wick" away. Such fabrics tend to be synthetic, but, now that most wash cycles are at low temperatures, some people find their tops quickly become smelly. (The odour-forming bacteria are not being killed in the wash.) You could add an anti-bacterial agent to an occasional wash or consider merino wool tops as a more expensive alternative that is resistant to bacterial growth. 

 

Advanced

If you are running competitively you'll probably invest in a GPS-enabled sports watch. These are not cheap, but are wonderful for calculating your pace, monitoring distance etc. They log your runs and do pretty much what your mobile phone app would do, except the device is neat enough to fit a slim adult wrist. Asides from this fun bit of tech, as a frequent runner your kit should expand to contain those mini-gym items that assist with strength, balance and flexibility. Ignore this dimension of your kit and you'll be a frequently injured runner. Beside my desk I have:

  • Kettlebell
  • Resistance bands
  • Yoga mat
  • Balance ball
  • Wobble board
  • Bodyblade (a big wobbly stick that is surprisingly good for strengthening arms, shoulders and core)
  • Foam roller.

Next: Rankings