Starting as a Runner

I will focus on some equipment needs as you begin your running endeavors.  I say “needs” because I feel they are necessary to getting the most out of your training. Why else would you run – if you don’t want to see your progress?

You will need:

  • Good shoes for your running style
  • Heart rate monitor
  • GPS watch
  • Proper running gear for all seasons
  • Water belt
  • Waterproof first aid tape

Shoes

Go to a running specialty shop and get fitted for shoes! The shoe shop should watch you run, maybe even video the run of you on the treadmill. They are trying to determine what kind of runner you are. Do you need support due to pronating? Or are you a neutral runner? These are important factors that will ultimately make your running much more comfortable.

A quick note on my experiences with shoes. I was in my 30s when I was challenged in a Memphis August evening by a good friend to run in a half marathon coming up in December. I began training the following day with some Asics with some sort of support. I ended a 3 mile run in pain! My inside shins from about 2″ above my inside ankle to about 7″ above felt like someone had hit that area with a sledge hammer!! It never dawned on me that it could be my shoes until about 3 weeks into my training. That’s when I went to a shoe store specializing in analyzing my gait and putting me in the right shoe. I started in a neutral shoe made by Saucony. I have since changed to Brooks Glycerin.

Heart Rate Monitor and Watch

There area  lot of good choices out there when it comes to monitoring your running. I started running more seriously in my 30s and started with a Polar 325. It came with a large foot pod, excellent HRM and nice watch. As I advanced, I purchased the Polar 625cx Run with a smaller foot pod and similar HRM gear. Then Windows upgraded to version 10 and I lost the capability to upload my running data via the IR USB. Polar had a poor excuse to no longer support the new operating system and my expensive watch I purchased from them. So I purchased the Garmin Forerunner 625 and their small foot pod (for treadmill runs). I couldn’t be happier. The Garmin Connect site is really neat and it’s fun to see your friend’s workouts along with your’s.

I like to think of the HRM as your RPM gauge. The watch will give you your pace. Think of it as your speedometer. Have you or heard any of your friends ever said/say, “I hate running.” You or your friends probably ran too fast/hard on the run and hated it. However, had you had a HRM – you could have done a better job of staying within your means. That is to say, you should not exceed 75% of your max heart rate when starting out. As you notice your HR climbing to or just above your 75% of max, you should dial it down, walk or slow jog until it recovers. Then begin again.

How do you find your max heart rate? A rough estimate of your max heart rate is 220- your age.  There are many more formulas. Another way is to run as fast as you can for a half mile and rest for a minute. Then do it again. Once you throw up, you will find out your max heart rate. By the way – you will need the HRM to be active when doing this. I have always used 220 – my age. I’m not an elite athlete so a few beats higher or lower doesn’t really matter to me.  So if your age is 30, your max heart rate would be 190. Therefore, your peak heart rate at 75% should be 143 bpm (beats per minute) and the low end is 124 bpm (65%). Ideally, 65-75% is best. This is the target for all runs, especially long runs.

The point is – don’t work so hard…at first. It should feel comfortable and you may even ask yourself, “Am I working hard enough?” Yes you are! Don’t delay in getting this part of your equipment.

Clothing

Running in hot and humid conditions are killer! I have suffered from rashes from not wearing the  correct clothing. For guys – compression underwear is a must! I like running shorts that have built-in underwear. If you are worried about rashes, use some original Desitin paste. It is magic! I have used Body Glide but Desitin works too. Running shirts (not cotton t-shirts) are your best friend. Search on Amazon to find some real running shirts. Long sleeve compression shirts are nice to have in the winter. While we are talking about winter, at least a couple pair of running tights are nice to have when the temps dip into the 20s or lower. A running thermal hat/beanie that wicks sweat is ideal! I cannot stress several pairs of quality wicking socks. Thick or thin or somewhere in between – use whatever is comfortable for you.

Safety is important too! Look for purchasing some reflective vest or bands to increase your visibility. You will still have to watch drivers because they aren’t looking for runners. I’ve seen people blow through stop signs on my early morning runs – so don’t trust everyone or that they see you. Chances are, they don’t see you. I’ve seen some folks use lights on their shoes or on their heads.

Hydration Belt

You may not need a water belt until your long runs exceed 6 miles. Once your runs are longer than 6 miles, you will need to hydrate along your runs. Otherwise, your runs will suffer. Don’t blow this suggestion off. You will need it in the summer months and winter months. Although, during the winter – you won’t feel as thirsty but I’ll bet you that you will be just as dehydrated on the long winter runs. Some belts come with one to 4 bottles and even have a place to store your phone, keys, and a gel pack or two. I carry my phone and keys in my Spi Belt.

First Aid Tape

The longer you run, the more your nipples are going to suffer. Cut small squares off a roll of waterproof first aid tape and stick those on your nips. I know – sounds funny but you will only forget once! To remove, wait until you are in the shower and use soap to help loosen the stick. Usually this is only done on the long runs.  I use Band Aid First Aid Tape (1/2″ wide).

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