Beginner running essentials

Running Essentials: The 8 Best Items of Beginner Running Gear

What is one of the biggest challenges that new runners face?  Some of the overwhelming challenges that face newbies include what shoes to buy, what clothes to wear, what is the best running gear, how to stay hydrated, what is all the exact equipment for running needed, etc.  Sometimes sorting through all of this information, comparing billions of products, and prioritizing budgets is so mind boggling, that the running never even starts to take place.  Unfortunately, what could become a life changing and rewarding lifestyle, is abandoned because you just don’t know how and where to start.  As a newbie runner, you are well aware that there are certain running essentials you absolutely NEED to be successful in running, but how do you sift through all the noise and just get down to the basics of beginner running gear?  If you are wanting to delve into and implement a running routine, then don’t waste time going back and forth sifting through loads of information!  You could be running instead! All your must have gear for running is right here.  This straight forward, to the point, decisive and proven guide for all the best equipment for running and beginner essentials for runners will help you make the most of your time, and point you down the right path for all your newbie running needs!


All the beginner essentials you need

Disclosure: Below are some affiliate links-these are all beginner running gear products I highly recommend. I won’t make any recommendations on this page that I haven’t tested or personally used!



8 Beginner Running Essentials


Here are the 8 basics of beginner running gear you need to get started on your running journey!  Below are Quick Links, and following is a deeper look at each piece of beginner running essentials.


Beginner Running Essentials Quick Links






  • Best Hydration Vest with Water Bladder – Camelbak



  • Best Transport System – Camelback Hydration Vest (above) or Running Belt










Want all this beginner running gear in a handy checklist? Here you go!


Beginner essentials for runnersAll the essential beginner running gear you need to get started



Running Essentials #1: Running Shoes


This is the most obvious place to start when talking about necessary beginner running gear, because zero effective running will take place until you secure a reliable, effective, pair of running shoes.  There is no decision more crucial to running success, than choosing a running shoe that performs for you!


Beware of anyone who claims to know the exact best shoe for you, because at the end of the day, everyone is different.  Almost every runner I have encountered has a brand of shoe they are fiercely loyal to, but often, that does take some trial and error.  I do have my own trusted and proven brand of running shoe that I have run every one of my marathons, half marathons, 10k’s, and 5k’s in, but before I get to that, here are a few truths I have learned about selecting a running shoe, no matter what brand you ultimately go with:


  • spend the most money on your running shoes – it tops the list of running essentials for a reason.  It is absolutely worth it to invest in a solid pair of shoes, and a solid pair of shoes will almost undoubtedly be the most expensive item of running essentials you MUST have!  I promise it is worth the investment.  A sub par pair of running shoes can cause lingering issues with knee, ankle, foot, or leg pain and discomfort, and doctor’s visits, orthopedic consultations, rehab, etc. will ultimately be a much higher cost than a trusted pair of running shoes!


  • trust the big brands that you hear experienced runners reference over and over – there’s a reason the same name brands will pop back up over and over in veteran runners’ lingo.  You may find a great sale on a pair of running shoes that seems like a steal, but if no one has ever heard of the brand, spend your cash on a more reputable name.  Shoes, and subsequently the health of your joints and effectiveness of your performance, are to big of a deal to cross your fingers and take a chance over.  So what are some of the big name brands you should start your search with?  Brooks, Saucony, Hoka, Salomon – these are a few names that I have come to trust in the last decade, and that I know have a reputation worth standing behind.



What is my go to running shoe?  These are the shoes that have carried me across the frozen tundra of Greenland to the steps of the Great Wall!


Brooks Women's Glycerin 19 Neutral Running Shoe
  • THIS WOMEN'S SHOE IS FOR: The Glycerin 19 is perfect for runners who think there is no such thing as too much cushioning. The plush internal fit and soft transitions keep runners surrounded by softness. This Brooks Women's Glycerin 19 is a certified PDAC A5500 Diabetic shoe and has been granted the APMA Seal of Acceptance.


Note that there is a difference between road running shoes, and trail running shoes.  If your running takes you more on trails than roads, then you will want to invest in the best trail runner out there – HOKA Speedgoats!  You cannot beat the cushioning and grip on these shoes!



If you love running trails as much as roads, you will want your own Trail Running Gear Checklist too!


  • consider the balance of your running shoe carefully – there should be a balance between how well your shoe cushions, how lightweight it is, and how much stability it provides.


  • replace your shoes regularly – if you run regularly, or plan to, for example, train for a half marathon race, you are going to want to pay attention to when your tread begins to wear down, or when you notice a decrease in the effectiveness of your shoes ability to cushion as well or provide traction.  500 miles of use is the approximate time frame to look at replacing your running shoes.


  • break in shoes before a big run or race – never break in a pair of running shoes the morning of a racing event, always give yourself at least several runs to consider your new pair of running shoes broken in.


  • if necessary, go to a local running store in person and have a staff analyze your gait and stride, in order to help you in making any selection decisions.  


  • pair your running shoes with a superb pair of socks – otherwise all the care that went into selecting a good running shoes will be sabotaged.  The performance of your running shoe is directly tied to the performance of your running sock, and for that reason you must invest in a pair of socks that will protect your hard working feet.  Blister proof is also a must for those longer runs! More on what type of sock you need below!



My recommendation for best running shoe: the Brooks Glycerin listed here on Amazon

My recommendation for best trail running shoe: the HOKA One One Speedgoats



  • Don’t forget about trail running!  Trail running is unique and has some differences from road running, and one of those differences to take into account is acquiring a trail running shoe, specifically designed to handle the natural elements a trail throws at it, like dirt, sand, rocks, tree stumps, etc.  A trail running shoe has to maintain the same balance of a road running shoe, incorporating an appropriate amount of cushioning with weight and stability, but it has to have an amped up ability to grip, hold, and maintain traction on unpredictable surfaces!


Trail runners are one of the running essentials for beginners
Shoes are one of the essential pieces of beginner running gear



Running Essentials #2: Socks


Your feet are going to be working hard, and it is important to care for them.  One of the best things you can do to protect your feet, and therefore increase your chances of success in running, are to get a hard working pair of socks.  There’s a couple important factors to consider when choosing a pair of running socks:


  • choose the right socks –  Nothing will ruin a running experience quicker than blisters, so make sure to PROACTIVELY prevent them by using the best performance, anti blister, sock out there.  I used to suffer from blisters on my long runs, until I discovered Hilly Twin Skin socks!  The “twin skin” layering is what works to deter the friction that can cause blisters.  Ever since I started wearing these socks, I haven’t had a single blister, not even when trail running the Grand Canyon’s Rim to Rim!


My recommendation for best performance running sock:  Hilly Twin Skin socks


Hilly Women's Twin Skin Anket, Magenta/Grey Marl, Medium
  • Hilly Women's Twin Skin Anket, Magenta/Grey Marl, Medium


Running Essentials #3: Hydration System


Whether you are conquering summer running in the heat, or braving the freezing temperatures of a winter run, you need to stay hydrated!  Hydration is consistent and regular, it does not mean chugging a gallon of water right before a run!  Drink often, drink regularly, and have a goal for how much you want to drink each day.  Need help staying consistent with hydrating?


That being said, it is important to know how you are going to stay hydrated on your actual run, along your intended course.  There are four basic ways to go about this:


  • If you have a planned out route, such as a short loop, where you know you can leave a water bottle along the route, then you can use that method.  For example, when I used to run in my neighborhood, I would leave a water bottle on our mailbox, and plan a running route that had me pass by the house every 2 miles or so, so I could have a quick re-hydrating pit stop.  If this fits your needs, then you’ll want to invest in a water bottle that will keep your liquids cold!



My recommendation for best insulated water bottle:  Hydro Flask with Built In Straw listed here on Amazon


Hydro Flask 32 oz Wide Mouth Straw Lid Pacific
  • Straw Lid is leakproof and makes cold refreshment that much easier


  • If you are doing a long point to point run, that is not conducive to placing a water bottle along the route, then you will want to utilize a mobile form of water hydration.  One great way to do this is by using a hydration vest specifically designed to hold water for those long runs, while remaining streamlined and unobtrusive to your actual running movements.  My favorite Camelbak Hydration vest comes with water bladder capability, for on the go, non stop hydration.  It also has the perfect amount of storage for personal items, a phone, and a snack.  Another mobile option is to use a running belt with water bottle storage.



My recommendation for best water pack: Camelbak Hydration Vest listed here on Amazon


CamelBak Women's Circuit Run Vest 50oz Hydration Bladder, Aqua Sea/ Silver
  • RUNNING HYDRATION VEST FOR WOMEN: The infusion of 3D Micro Mesh, ultra-lightweight materials, and reflectivity make the CamelBak Women’s Circuit Hydration Vest the preferred choice of trail and ultra runners looking for a minimalist running vest.


  • the third  option for water hydration is to run where there is already water.  This means that you will need to do your due diligence and research ahead of time, but there have been plenty of times that I went for a run at a local park or recreation center where water fountains where available along my route.




Running Essentials #4: Transporting Necessities


There are a few exceptions to this essential item of beginner running gear, but generally speaking, you’ll want to have a way to carry your necessities, such as keys, Chap Stick, gels, phone, etc., on your person, during your run.  If you are a minimalist, then a pair of good running shorts with a pocket for your keys may be sufficient.  If you need more, then you’ll want to invest in an additional form of gear transportation during your runs.


If you choose to run with a running belt or hydration pack, such as the Camelbak model recommended above, you may find you have room for your other essentials in that pack.  If not, you will want to look into some other options.


Flip Belts are a nifty, relatively new discovery, that I have relied on a lot recently.  I can fit my phone, keys, and Chap Stick (the essentials that I personally run with) all inside, and it feels unobtrusive to run with.



FlipBelt Zipper, Acrylic Summer, X-Large
  • COMFY ZIPPER RUNNING WAIST BELT: The FlipBelt Zipper is a secure upgrade on our Classic exercise running belt. It adds a zipper pouch to the pocket belt to safely carry small, vital items. Designed to pull on and lay flat on your hips without slipping, it is a light alternative to bulky running bags and armbands.


Other methods you can use, primarily for transporting your phone, are arm bands that hold your phone in place, like this band I recommend from Amazon.



Running Essentials #5: Running Bottoms


Your legs do some pretty heavy lifting when it comes to running, so take care of them, and make sure they take care of you as well, because being comfortable goes a long way in running performance.  I’ve already stated my staunch belief and faith in the power of wool, and that faith extends to what I believe are the most effective fabrics to wear when choosing running bottoms, both shorts and leggings.


Regardless of what you ultimately choose to wear over your legs, make sure that you AVOID COTTON AT ALL COSTS!  Opt for fabrics that are moisture wicking, breathable, quick drying, and odor resistant!  Wool is all these things.  And a fantastic bonus of wool is that in the winter, it is also incredibly effective at insulating.  So not only does it wick moisture, but it does so while retaining a layer of warmth for those winter runs!



My recommendation for favorite running shorts: IceBreaker running shorts listed here on Amazon



My recommendation for best winter running leggings: Fleece lined leggings listed here on Amazon


Running Essentials #6: Running Tops


The same rule for running bottoms applies to running tops as well.  Select the right fabrics, it will make a huge difference in your running comfort.  Running is hard enough as it is, make sure that what you’re wearing is making it easier for you, not harder or more miserable.  And as always, AVOID COTTON!  Cotton clings and holds onto sweat, you need something that wicks it away!  Nothing beats wool, or at least another synthetic type of material.  Here are a few of my favorites.



My recommendation for best wool running tank: IceBreaker Running Tank listed here on Amazon


Icebreaker Merino Women's Spector Tank Landscape Lines, Midnight Navy, X-Small
  • WOOL HIKING TANK: A sleek, stylish & versatile layering piece for any day of the year from hiking during warm weather to the slopes. A cool fiber blend combined with stretchy material for added strength & comfort.


My recommendation for best long sleeve running top:  IceBreaker 260 Long Sleeve Base listed here on Amazon



Running Essentials #7: Weather Protection


Generally speaking, I try to avoid running in storms or risky weather.  I always check the weather forecast ahead of time, and if I need to make necessary adjustments due to bad weather, than I do.  There are cases, however, where you may feel the need to go for a run, and there is a chance of a shower.  Or maybe you are just one of those people that simply enjoy running in a light rain ( I am! ).


If so, just make sure that you have an outer layer of protection when necessary.  As I do not recommend running in a full blown downpour, my weather protection recommendations assume a moderate amount of weather, not severe.  Moderate to me means utilizing an outer layer that has moderate water-resistant or water-proof capabilities, and is wind resistant.  Fully waterproof is even better, and is ultimately what I would recommend.


Running in an outer layer used to make me cringe, because I struggled to find an outer layer that did not feel restrictive or bulky, and that was responsive to my natural motions in running.  I finally found an awesome,  ultra lightweight, water-proof and wind-resistant jacket that was responsive, non-restricting, and protected me from the elements.  


My recommendation for the best lightweight, responsive, breathable, weather-resistant jacket for cold weather running:  IceBreaker Corialis jacket with wool lining



My recommendation for the best ultra lightweight, fully waterproof  and windproof shell jacket: Outdoor Research Helium II


Outdoor Research Women's Helium II Jacket - Lightweight Waterproof Rain Gear
  • ULTRALIGHT RAINCOAT: Weighing a mere 5.5 ounces, this hooded jacket offers supreme protection. Whether you are cycling, running, camping, hiking, fishing, or just in need of incredible weather protection, choose the Helium II Jacket.


Running Essentials #8: Eye Protection


Summer sun and winter glare alike can cause eye strain while out running (unless you mostly run indoors).  If you are primarily an outdoor runner, make sure that you care for your eyes during your runs, with these two helpful items of essential beginner running gear.  Utilize either a adequately brimmed cap, or a pair of treated sunglasses.  Or better yet, utilize both of these running essentials together on your run.  


My recommendation for best running cap:  Columbia Coolhead Cap listed here on Amazon


Columbia Unisex Coolhead II Ball Cap
  • OMNI-WICK - The ultimate moisture management technology for the outdoors. Omni-Wick quickly moves moisture from the skin into the fabric where it spreads across the surface to quickly evaporate—keeping you cool and your clothing dry.


My recommendation for best running sunglasses: Tifosi sunglasses



Get all of the equipment for running you need to get started!
Complete your inventory of all the equipment for running you need to get started!



And there you have it, a no frills list of all the beginner running gear that any newbie will need!  There will no doubt be new discoveries and fun gadgets you will continue to pick up along the way on your running journey, but be sure to start here, with these 8 running essentials!


Grab Your Beginner Running Gear Checklist HERE!


Now that you’ve stocked all your essentials for runners, how about putting them into action?  If you want to put your running essentials to the test, then take on the challenge of training for a long distance run!  I have training guides available for both half marathon and marathon chasers alike, chock full of expert advice for conquering that finish line!


Grab Your FREE 16 Week Half Marathon Training Calendar for Beginners Here


Grab Your FREE 16 Week Marathon Training Plan for Beginners Here!



Further Running Resources:















All the running gear you need to get started



Last update on 2023-08-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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