I hope this post finds you well!
Summertime always makes me nostalgic. And it’s not just the memories of s’mores by the campfire or swimming in the lake. It’s the memories of all the habits and hobbies and passions that have started in the summertime for me.
I started running five summers ago, after my first year teaching. This was before I discovered Pinterest, before I got a subscription to Runners World, and before everyone and their dog started posting their race pics and times on Facebook. I didn’t really know what training was, and I’d never even seen a foam roller.
I wrote a post about my running essentials a few weeks back, but I realized recently that if you’re just starting out, and you’re just aiming to finish your first 5k, than you don’t really need all that stuff I talked about.
When I started jogging 2-4 miles around my neighborhood in Brooklyn five summers ago, I sure as hell wasn’t wearing $120 dollar shoes, or lululemon running tights. I love those things now, but back then I was on a first-year teachers income and trying to make due with as much of my college gym gear (read: free cotton t-shirts) as possible. And to be honest, I managed just fine.
So here’s a list of what you REALLY need to get started with running.
- A Pair of Comfortable Running Sneakers. Runners always talk about how important shoes are, and how you should pay top dollar for the most cutting edge sneaker. In reality, though, I wore a pair of three year old Asics that I’d bought from the clearance rack of a DSW when I trained for and ran my first 5k. When I decided to train for my first half marathon, I broke down and went to Jackrabbit Sports in Manhattan to get shoe recommendations. The sales person made me run on a treadmill in front of a high-def camera that recorded how my feet hit the ground. I then took the sales associate’s recommendations and ordered last season’s edition from Amazon. There’s no exact science!
- Shorts. At first I tried to run in black cotton leggings, but they got too hot and fell down my hips every few steps. I ordered a 3-pack of Danskin Now drawstring waist running shorts from Walmart and literally wore those shorts on repeat for two whole years of workouts. I’ve stepped it up to TJ Maxx shorts nowadays, classy classy.
- For the Ladies: A Supportive Undergarment (Hint: this might not be the ”high impact” one!) I also ordered a multi-pack of Danskin Now sports bras from Walmart when I first started running, and they worked better than any Lululemon strappy number I’ve ever splurged on since. I’ve found that compression spandex works best for me, as opposed to more molded cup bras specifically labelled high-impact.
- An Awesome Playlist. Because it helps beat the boredom.
- A Great Running Route. Ditto. Bonus points if there are optional extensions around the route that you can add on, such as looping around an extra block.
- Water. Don’t worry about gels or sports drinks until you’re pushing into the double-digits for milage.
- A Sweat Wicking Top or Two. I got pretty far wearing just old college t-shirts while jogging at first. Then I invested in a few wicking tank tops from Walmart and I’ve never looked back! It doesn’t have to be fancy Under Armor stuff; it just has to not hold onto 5 gallons of sweat while you run.
- A Mileage Tracking App. When I first started I didn’t even have a smartphone, so I would google map things and then guesstimate how much I’d ran. It’s important to have a general sense of how far you’re able to run, and at what pace you’re running. Resist the urge to post every run on social media, and resist the urge to push your pace before you’re ready (hi, stress fracture) I like MapMyRun and I used to love Moves. I also use the Apple Watch Workout tracker sometimes. I’m not a big fan of the Couch to 5k program, because I feel like it sometimes holds people back from pushing themselves.
- A Race to Work Towards. Sign up for a race. Sometime in the future- maybe 12 weeks from when you first begin. Preferably a shorter one. And plan to run the whole thing. None of this “I will walk the last mile.” None of that noise.
- A Vision. This is so lame, but when I lack motivation, I picture who and where I want to be going forward. Typically this means picturing myself in an adorable running outfit, PRing at a race in front of all the people I love. If you’ve got a vision, than you’ll always feel motivated.
So there you have it. You can become a runner in Walmart-chic attire and discount sneakers! You just need to want it:)
Now You Tell Me…
What motivates you to try a new workout regime?
What bare-basic essentials do you recommend for new runners?
How do you stay entertained while running?