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Whether you’re a novice beginner or a seasoned long-distance runner, shopping for running attire can be a daunting task. With so many options, it may be difficult to determine the best options. Have no fear: our resident running expert is here! We sat down with Carley Schleien, PT, DPT, for a quick Q&A session to point you in the right direction during your next shopping trip— save this Quick Tip Guide for reference on-the-go!
What should I look for when choosing a running shoe?
Running shoes can be one of the most difficult and confusing items to purchase. Many types of shoes exist, ranging from neutral ones, to stiffer shoes, to more minimalist pairs. The most important factor to consider is comfort! Overall, running shoes should support the foot and allow the runner’s muscles to naturally engage and activate properly, rather than trying to do the jobs and functions of those muscles.
It is recommended to try on the shoe at the store and walk around; if simply walking around in them is uncomfortable, it is best not to purchase that particular shoe. You should also consider a shoe with a minimal heel drop (6 millimeters or less). Neutral components are most beneficial for runners, as they will allow you to use a more natural running gait pattern.
For a more in-depth recommendation, there are running shoe companies and stores that offer mini analyses to evaluate your running gait. A store associate can then better propose specific shoe types based on your results.
What kind of clothing is best to wear?
There are a wide variety of clothing companies that manufacture running attire, including shirts, sports bras, shorts, leggings, and socks. Runners should attempt to try clothing on prior to running in them to ensure they feel comfortable, which is individualized to each runner. You’ll have the most success when you feel comfortable on your runs!
Are there additional items runners should be wearing at night (for visibility)?
Running shirts and jackets commonly come with reflective gear that is handy to use when running at night. Since the sun sets earlier in the winter, many runners will be running in the dark. It is vital to wear reflective gear when running at night to ensure that drivers and other pedestrians see you. Some runners even run with headlamps or flashlights as additional tools to notify others of their presence.
What can I wear to keep my things safe (keys/wallet/etc)?
Many products exist to help runners keep their valuables safe while running. Runners often choose between wearing a running armband phone sleeve or a running belt around their waist. Both types of products frequently come with pockets and compartments to store your keys, money, etc., and many belts come with sleeves that allow you to hook on your water bottle.
Is a fitness tracker worth utilizing?
Fitness trackers can be especially valuable when preparing and training for a timed or distance race. Runners may benefit from being able to record the length of their runs, their distances, and their pace. Trackers range in sophistication and can include features such as displaying heart rates, altitude/elevation gains, temperature, etc. There are also apps that runners can download on their phones to track pace, distance, and other metrics.
What additional items may be beneficial for runners at different levels?
One of the most important things to focus on while running is hydration. Runners should ensure that they have access to water while running, whether it’s carrying a water bottle or stopping at water fountains spaced throughout their run outdoors. When completing long distance runs, runners should also ensure proper nutrition with gel packs and energy gels in order to ensure proper electrolyte balance throughout the body.