Break It Down Now

It’s no secret that Twin City Track Club is a runner friendly community, embracing both experienced and new runners alike. Yet, It can still feel intimidating to learn what to invest in when you get started. We hear about other runners having all this expensive gear and ask ourselves, “is that really necessary to get started?” Well, the answer is… it kind of depends. If you’re looking for the bare basics to get started while you decide if this is something you want to pursue, then no, you don’t need all the extravagant gear you hear about. It really all comes down to budget, training or racing goals, and how much you’re willing to invest in the sport.

For this particular article we’ll start with the basics: workout clothes. You need clothes that are designed to get soaked in sweat but still keep you comfortable during a run. That being said, you don’t necessarily need to be spending top dollar on name brand items. You do, however, need to pay careful attention to a key detail: fabric. While cotton T-Shirts generally work fine, we highly recommend investing in moisture wicking workout clothes. Especially if you start getting up there in mileage and sweating a lot, you’ll quickly find that cotton is going to stick to you, feel heavy, take a long time to dry, and may cause chafing. If you aren’t familiar with the term, chafing is when skin becomes irritated or inflamed from rubbing on clothing during activity. The level of irritation of the skin depends on how long it’s exposed to this friction and can get very uncomfortable. Trust me when I say, it’s the bane of runners and other endurance athletes alike. Typically, it occurs in areas of the body that collect and retain a lot of moisture such as armpits, thighs, groin, and bra under-band. However, you’d be surprised where you can develop chafing. This is why it’s usually advised to invest in moisture wicking tops and bottoms with the added bonus that you can still use them for everyday wear if you decide not to stick with the sport. There are a lot of choices for bottoms for both men and women so it really comes to your choice of comfort, whether you want compression-like clothing or looser fitting clothing as well as your preferences on length.

Next, there’s the obvious big article of clothing: shoes. There is so much talk nowadays about carbon plates, stack heights, and drops that it can make your head spin. You don’t have to drop hundreds of dollars on the right shoe to get you started in the sport. However, you do want to put some thought into your shoes. Generally you want to have a relatively wide toe box to allow your feet to have room, and maybe half a size to a full size bigger than your usual shoe size to allow for potential swelling. Do bear in mind that repetitive pounding of your feet on hard surfaces can cause foot swelling. A good rule of thumb is to find a shoe that is within your budget and that you feel supports your feet well as you run.

Since it was brought up, we can also talk a little about chafing prevention. The old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” definitely has a play here as it can take days or even a few weeks to heal from chafing. There are a lot of products one can look into for chafing prevention, it takes some trial and error to find what works for you. Some products that are well known include but are not limited to body glide, gold bond friction defense stick, or chamois butter. A note about chamois butter is it is typically found at cycling stores, not running stores since it is targeted for cyclists. These are just a few products that some runners swear by, feel free to look at others.

From there the world of running gear is honestly your oyster. You can look into investing in nutrition if you’re training for high mileage distances or races like half and full marathon, compression sleeves, fitness trackers or heart rate monitors. It doesn’t take as much as one may think to get started in the sport: a few sets of clothes, sneakers and dedication to push yourself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and you’ll be on your way to becoming the best runner you can be.