Basic Running Gear

23 Oct

To begin with, I’ll let you know that I jinxed myself with that post about running while sick. The fates stepped in blessed me with a head cold so now I get to put all my advice to good use. Booyah.

But what I’d like to focus on now is basic running gear. I figured this was a good topic because so many running people like to debate the wicking abilities of different brands of tech shirts… and most new runners are still trying to figure out when cotton turned into a bad thing.

Oh yeah right. Awkward.

When I first started running, I wore an old pair of leggings (that boasted only three holes) and a cotton tank top. I had a fancy Lululemon jacket that I wore on top that had, until that point, never experienced anything remotely similar to exercise. My first shoes, as I mentioned before, were those Pumas that everyone was buying because they looked cool. Like most things that look cool, they didn’t work so well.

I’ve since upgraded once I learned what I needed and what I didn’t. So if you’re looking to get a new outfit for your runs, I’ve got some tips.


Ladies, please disregard what everyone says about cotton. Yeah, it doesn’t breathe so well, and probably doesn’t look as cool, and when you sweat, it’ll show. But it’s cheap. As in free. Because I would bet a $500 Nike gift card that you have old cotton tshirts laying around that would be perfect to run in.

Possibly the most appropriate shirt I've ever seen.

So what’s all the noise about tech tops? Usually these tops are made of special fabric that wick away sweat, keeping you cooler and more comfortable. If you got the cheese, buy ‘em. But if you’re poor like me, just use the cotton tops. I do fine wearing them.

Gents… uhhhh… go for the tech top. Just do it. And invest in some Vaseline. All I’ll say is chafing. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

No I won't! You're welcome.


Everyone seems to understand what to wear on their legs. Shorts for warm weather, leggings or jogging pants for winter. Ladies, please god, make sure your shorts aren’t too short. No one wants to see your junk, especially first thing in the morning. Same goes for guys actually.

Chances of junk showing must be equal to zero. Punishable by death.

I’ll admit that I tend to splurge on bottoms for running. I have a couple pairs of fancy shorts from Lululemon (sense a pattern here?) because I like the way they look.

They also have very handy pockets that I use for my iPod when it’s raining and for my gels. I’m also planning on buying a pair of their running leggings PURELY because they make me look buff. What? At least I’m honest. Here’s the link.


And then there’s the rest.

Ladies, do yourself a favour and buy a good sports bra. Yes, they’re expensive. But your girls are going to hurt more than your bank account will. Mine is from Lululemon (duh) but they don’t actually make them any longer. I’d recommend hitting a sports store for a wider selection and cheaper prices.

What about rain? I live in a temperate rainforest. Rain is a part of my daily life. I wear a ballcap to keep the water off my face, and maybe a jacket if it’s raining hard enough. It’s an old shell of my mom’s that doesn’t fit either of us but I only use it when it’s really pouring.

That's what a raincloud looks like when it's feelin mean.

Socks? Wear the ones you have unless you’re running 15k or more, or if it’s especially hot and/or humid out. The distance increases rubbing and so does the heat and humidity. Rubbing equals blisters. Blisters equal pain (and unsightly flesh wounds that scar young children). If this sounds like something you want to avoid, buy a pair or two of tech socks from your local sports store. They’ll cost you $15 bucks a pair but it’s worth it.

For cold weather, I wear a thick headband that keeps my ears warm without making my head too hot. I also wear Lululemon gloves (god I have a problem) that boast handy pockets and finger holes.

What to do about hair? For the ladies and the male hippies only. I put mine in a simple ponytail at the back of my head and wear a Goody hairband ($5 for three) to keep the wisps away.

Of course, wear good shoes. I cannot emphasize this enough.

These things are going to be the foundation of your running. The main theme I’m trying to get across is that for most things, you don’t need to get the latest and greatest tech designs. Splurge on what’s important to you if you can. Otherwise, save the cash for race registration.

Wait what? They make you pay to run around in a giant circle, risking being rundown and/or mauled by the crowds? They make you pay $75+?

You'll pay for the mauling and you'll like it.

Yeah, life sucks.

9 Responses to “Basic Running Gear”

  1. Hope October 23, 2011 at 7:20 PM #

    So true…all of it. I tend to get really carried away when I start a new thing, and I’m actually surprised I haven’t done more of it with running.
    Living in MN, I’m trying to get ready for the cold ass winter coming up, so I’m spending some money on decent warmer pants, but really that’s all I’m putting lots of money into. So far in my winter prep I have: an ear-covering headband, a stocking cap, shoes, some light gloves (I think I may need warmer ones soon), and a couple long sleeved shirts. I haven’t quite worked out what kind of layers to to…I think I need some kind of light coat.

    One run my super-supportive bras were in the wash, and I wore one of the light duty ones…bad choice. I spent the end of my run holding my boobs – thank god I was alone on a path.

    • thetortoiseruns October 23, 2011 at 7:39 PM #

      Ooooh MN winters sound a lot worse than mine! I’m still running in a tshirt and shorts in the early morning. I’m feeling the chill but it’s more like a relief than anything.

      Layers have always been my issue, because I warm up really quickly. Thankfully I do a lot of loops so I can leave gear behind to be picked up later.

      As for the bras… number one thing to invest in, I swear. Lightweight bras are clearly no good!

  2. jsadora October 24, 2011 at 10:24 AM #

    Totally agree about the cotton. i’ve been running for awhile and a cotton t-shirt goes a long way!

    I have actually invested in a windproof/waterproof jacket. I will admit I am still afraid of a little rain water, but if you say you can do it no problem I’ll need to get over myself.

  3. Health Freak College Girl October 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM #

    these are all so true! i was recently at a triathlon camp and people were like, don’t wear cotton. and i was thinking to myself, i will whatever the heck my wallet and i feel like. haha. p.s. i just checked out those lululemon shorts and i am officially jealous! i want some!

  4. Suzy October 24, 2011 at 12:36 PM #

    OMG the tiny shorts the tiny shorts!! if you’re competing as one of the top 20 in the race, okay sure. but if you’re finishing middle-of-the-pack, I totally agree that we really, really, really don’t need to see the boys. really.

    and i totally cringe and have sympathy for those poor guys and the chafing. looks terrible, and it can’t feel good. how has no one told them about body glide or vasoline?!

    Do you have a preffered sports bra that isn’t Lulu? I go back and forth since I feel like I”m a tough fit for sportsbras. I’ve heard good things about Moving comfort… thoughts?

    PS. I am ADD- IC-TED to Lululemon. It’s totally become a serious problem. I might start going to meetings.

    • thetortoiseruns October 24, 2011 at 5:40 PM #

      That’s what I always wondered about the bleeding nips! Why haven’t you done something about this?! Good god.

      As for sports bras, I’ve got to be honest, I’ve never met one I didn’t like. Let me put it this way; I’m a small person. By that I mean not well-endowed. By that I mean put a sweatshirt on me and stuff my hair in a hat, and pretty soon you’ve got girls screaming at me to get out of the ladies’ room. So as long as a bra is intended for running, it suits me fine. I know that people with bigger chests have a LOT of trouble finding something that works. I’ve also heard good things about Moving Comfort but never tried one on before. My best recommendation is to go to a running store and try on a bunch, then buy one you like in a bunch of different colours.

      • Running in Mommyland December 1, 2011 at 4:21 PM #

        The Moving Comfort Fiona is amazing (and I’ve tried them all)!!!

  5. zesty appetite October 24, 2011 at 8:30 PM #

    this post comes at the perfect time because I have no “Real” running gear! I will be looking back to your blog for all my running advice needs!


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