So you’re ready to mix up your fitness routine with some running, maybe even train for a 5k or half marathon — that’s very CrossFit of you, actually. 

All you have to do is lace up and get out there, right? Not exactly.

Although that certainly is a common approach, the reality is that you’ll likely quickly find yourself wishing you’d prepared.

Whether you’re a new runner or an experienced pro, here are a few things you shouldn’t hit the treadmill or the trails without.

 

The Right Shoes

This might seem like a no-brainer, but the right shoes are the difference between an exhilarating run and lifelong injury.

Running shoes are truly an area where you get what you pay for, which means rolling into your local department store expecting to grab the first $25 pair of shoes is probably not your best bet.

Find a reputable store in your area that does custom fittings, such as New Balance or Fleet Feet. They’ll be able to choose the right shoe for your stride, arch height and preferred running environment.

Some telltale warning signs that you’re in the wrong shoes include bruises, blisters and aching arches even after the shoes are thoroughly broken in.  

More extreme longterm effects can escalate into Plantar Fasciitis, tendonitis and knee injuries. If your shoes don’t seem quite right, correct it sooner rather than later!

 

Carrying Accessories

Although it’s tempting to use a handheld water bottle or carry your smartphone, most experts warn that carrying things in your hands while running damages your form (which can lead to injury). This means that keeping any storage hands-free is the way to go.

Even if you’re running on a treadmill, you’ll likely want access to (at minimum) your phone, and if you’re running outdoors you’ll need keys.

Even longer runs call for on the go fuel and possibly emergency identification–all of which needs a carrying method.

As widely-mocked as they have become, fanny packs had a good thing going, placing the weight at the average center of balance. Fortunately, countless less obtrusive carrying belts are available now, like this one from SPI Belt

 

Hydration

 

Especially during the summer months, the importance of hydration while running could not be stressed enough.

Since we’ve already established that running hands-free is ideal, how do you keep water on hand?

Camelbak, the leader in hydration backpacks, has a specific line designed just for runners.

These allow you to go on even the longest trail runs without dehydration, and are designed to avoid disrupting your balance. If you’re just wanting to avoid constant water fountain trips at the gym, waist water carriers might be the better option.

There are a variety of water bottle carriers on the market, including an extensive line from Fuel Belt. 

 

Sun Protection

This mostly applies if you’re planning to do a lot of outdoor running (which, if you get serious about running, is inevitably going to happen at some point!).

Contending with the elements is the runner’s ongoing challenge. Even if you’re running on a cloudy day, you can end up with a surprise sunburn.

A good athletic sunscreen of at least SPF 30 is a good place to start. Beyond that, consider a bandana to keep the sun off your scalp and ears, and running sunglasses for especially bright days.

It’s easier to keep your focus on the goal ahead when you’re not squinting!

What is your essential must-have for your races and daily runs? Let us know!