Anyone can go from sitting on the sofa to running a 5K in 2022, but with the right gear, you’ll find it a little easier. Socks that fit well and don’t slip around will help you avoid blisters and can make the hike that much more comfortable. Shoes with the right type of support will also lower the hurdles in reaching your running goals.
There’s also a little conundrum: Good running gear can be expensive, but cheap products can’t be very good at all. I’ve been running daily for the last few years and have had the opportunity to try all sorts of things. This has allowed me to find products that mostly find a balance between these two spectrums.
Below, I’ll highlight what I think are the most valuable items (in order of importance) for new runners to start with that don’t cost a fortune. Start at the top and work your way down. Some of the appealing products are aimed at men, but there are usually options for women as well. As always, the prices listed may fluctuate over time.
Socks: Swiftwick Aspire Zero
These Swiftwick Aspire Zero socks aim to hug your foot to fit in all types of shoes. For a while I had a pair of special running socks. After using them every week I had to use a different standard pair and I found these to slide around in my shoes. This created a few bubbles.
Running socks or sportier socks tend to be a bit more form-fitting and can help combat this problem. They also have padding in specific areas and can help wick sweat.
The great thing about a new pack of running socks is that they are relatively cheap. The Swiftwick Aspire Zero also features breathability and moisture-wicking properties for a comfortable fit.
Buy at Swiftwick for $14.99.
Shoes: Reebok Endless Road 3
The Reebok Endless Road 3 can be a solid mid-range trainer for everyday wear. These provide a great starting point for new runners who haven’t quite figured out what they want or need for their feet.
I personally think Reebok makes some of the best running shoes for the money. These have a MemoryTech foam sockliner for a supportive upper and use a FuelFoam midsole. These shoes should offer a blend of speed and comfort that will help anyone get started without spending more than $100. You can run in any shoe, of course, but even entry-level shoes like the Endless Road 3 make training more comfortable.
Shop at Reebok for $80.
Eartips: Skullcandy Push Active
I recommend the Skullcandy Push Active wireless earbuds for running. There are many options, but these have some unique properties that make them particularly good for this use case.
The Push Active have an earhook for a secure fit, physical media control buttons that can be operated by feel, and long battery life. These earbuds are also IP55 rated for water, sweat and dust. All these elements make them a good choice for road running. Also, they sound pretty good.
Being able to listen to music, podcasts or books was a huge help in getting me out the door for 2,500+ miles most days. The Skullcandy Push Active might be a good option without breaking the $100 mark.
Shop at Skullcandy for $79.99.
Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Charge 5
If you’re like me, you’ll want to get credit for the miles you’ve earned. The latest in Fitbit’s Charge series, the Charge 5 can do all the common tasks and more, including heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, skin temperature measurement and step tracking, without a phone and with built-in GPS. The device is thin and minimal so you can wear it all day or just throw it on for a run.
I have an Apple Watch that I use to track runs and ellipticals, but even the entry-level SE model starts at $244 on Amazon and might be overkill if you just want it to track your miles. If you can justify the cost for other uses, then it’s a good choice. If you’re not willing to shell out that much for a fitness tracker for running, I’d recommend the Fitbit Charge 5.
Buy from Amazon for $129.95.
Shorts: New Balance Accelerate
A decent pair of running shorts will help your legs feel less constricted and you can feel lighter. These New Balance Accelerate Running Shorts can fill that need. Their 5 inch length means they should hit well above the knee without being too short or revealing for most people. I think this is a great length for running shorts. There’s an integrated slip liner and as a bonus, a key pocket so you can carry something small.
Buy on Amazon from $28.80.
Shirt: Under Armor Tech 2.0
Instead of running in a regular cotton t-shirt, consider one like this Under Armor Tech 2.0. Cotton will soak up and retain sweat and is a lot less comfortable. This running shirt is made of polyester, so it’s lightweight, wicks sweat and dries much faster.
There are many shirts like this one. I have had good experiences with running clothing from Under Armor. If this t-shirt isn’t quite right, I’d still recommend taking a look to see if the company has other styles that may be on sale or discounted.
Buy from Amazon for $18.74.
Hat: Ciele Athletics GOCap
A cap or headband, like the GOCap from Ciele Athletics, would be best for those with longer hair. Keeping hair out of your face is especially helpful on longer runs. Personally, I’ve tried many running hats and given up on the really cheap ones. Ciele Athletics makes premium running caps and this GOCap is a great place to start.
The GOCap has a moisture-optimized material that prevents sweat from dripping into the face and eyes. It features UV protection on the front panels and has a soft brim that can be folded and packed without damage.
Buy from Amazon for $35.
Water Bottle: Nathan Quicksqueeze 12oz Handheld
People who start by walking around the block a few times don’t need to buy a water bottle. But if you’re starting out with more than a few miles, you might want one to help you stay hydrated.
This Quicksqueeze 12 ounce handheld should carry enough water to quench your thirst without being bulky. It also has small pockets for keys, cards or a phone. The handles can be adjusted to fit your hand to keep the bottle from falling out. I like the flexible container because it takes less effort to fully grasp it.
Buy from Nathan for $25.
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