Must Have Running Gear


Are you a runner, or do you want to be? This list of must-have running gear will help you get started on the right foot!

A few weeks ago, I finished my very first half marathon. It wasn’t easy, I’ll admit, but after following a training plan for nine weeks, it wasn’t as impossible as I thought it would be.

Image shows a woman standing outside along a trail, holding a running medal to the camera. Text overlay reads "My Must-Have Running Gear"

I’m a huge believer in physical fitness as a mom. Some days, especially when you’re getting started working up the energy to get out there and work out is hard, but if you stick with it, it pays off in spades.

You end up with increased energy, exercise improves your digestion and body function in general, and when you really get serious about it, you start eating healthier just to support your exercise.

It really is a win-win situation, and one of the easiest ways to start exercising is running.

All you need is a pair of shoes, and off you go. No gym membership, no special equipment. You just go out and run!

That said, there are a lot of things you start collecting after a while that minimize the little annoyances (I mean, running is hard enough as it is!), make things easier, and help keep you safe, and yes, they become your collection of must have running gear – even if you thought at first that you didn’t really need them.

So, if you’re looking to get started running, or if you’re ready to go beyond a pair of shoes, this is my list of essentials that I’ve compiled after lots of trial and error that I use on every run. (and yes, I’m going to start with shoes, because they’re the MOST essential!)

My Must Have Running Gear

Photo, taken from above, shows must have running items laid out on a white surface- including sturdy shoes, ear buds, mace, a watch, sportsbra, phone and belt bag.

Asics Running Shoes

Image shows a pair of grey Asics running shoes on a white surface

A few years ago, I put on my first pair of Asics shoes and never looked back. My first (and favorite) pair was the Gel Noosa Tri-9, which sadly is no longer made.

Today, I’m wearing Gel-Venture 6, which is really inexpensive as running shoes go. Even though I’m a rural gal, and run on dirt roads most of the time (those are my dusty shoes pictured above with the evidence all over them!), I was a little concerned at first that the grip on these trail runners would be a little jarring on paved roads. It’s turned out to be a non-issue, though, and I really love these shoes.

My only complaint is that I wish the toe were ventilated better, like the Tri-9s, to help keep my feet cooler.

While I have had a few pairs of Reebok’s that I liked, Asics has consistently been my favorite, and I find that their price and durability make them one of the more thrifty brands.

Of course, when you start running, you should get fitted by a professional to keep your feet as healthy as possible. But also keep your options open, once you know sort of arch support or toe-box width you need, you should be equipped to make your own shoe-buying decisions.

A Good Sports Bra

Image shows a bright pink sports bra laid out on a white table

I almost didn’t include this one because I don’t have one particular brand that I’m loyal to. But we gals know that you can’t run for any length of time without a good bra, so it’s definitely must-have running gear for us Women.

I’m currently running in a bra I picked up at Walmart. Why? Because it fits my criteria – it works, so I don’t really care if it’s a name brand.

That said, here are my criteria:

  • High Impact – a bra that’s meant for high-impact sports rather than low-impact, which would be yoga and such.
  • Cup support – NOT a “pancake bra,” which basically just squished everything tight to keep you from bouncing. Yes, you CAN have a bra that keeps everything in place without squishing you!
  • Padded cups – This isn’t something I’m always dead set on, but it’s a nice addition for those of us who find… the headlights come on and show through our shirts when we’re working hard.
  • wide straps – wide = pressure distributed over a wider area of the shoulder, so there’s less digging in and more comfort. (obviously, the bra pictured above doesn’t fit the bill, but you don’t want to see ones that actually get worn regularly, do you?)
  • Adjustable straps – we all know fabric stretches, and you’re going to need to tighten it up now and then.

You’ll find that your bra can make or break your running career, so get a good one! But you’ll also find that a good bra isn’t necessarily an expensive bra. As I said, my current one came from Walmart for about $10, if I remember correctly. Maybe it won’t last as long as a more expensive bra, but frankly, I’d have to drive two hours to the city to try on name-brand bras, so I’m sticking with Wally World for now.

Pepper Spray

Image shows a hand with pepper spray wrapped around the palm.

Here’s the thing: you’re taking personal responsibility for your health by running, which is great, but now you need to take it a step further and take personal responsibility for your safety too.

I feel pretty safe running on our local roads here, where everybody seems to be a friendly country boy, but all it takes is one stranger to ruin your day – or life.

But it’s not just people either. The truth is, I HAVE had to use my pepper spray… on dogs. And while it’s a little bit annoying to have a can of pepper spray strapped to your hand, that one time when I didn’t end up in the hospital getting stitches because I was able to get those ten dogs off my heels with pepper spray made it all worth it.

Always carry pepper spray with you! You never know what you may run across on the road or trail, which quite frankly is why it ranks up here just as highly as shoes and bras on the must-have running gear list.

Running Belt

Image shows a black running belt on a white table, with a hand holding the small clasp at the zipper.

I love my running belt! I really wasn’t sure how I would feel about having a belt restricting my waist while running, but I love it so much more than the armband I used to carry my phone in.

After I get going, I barely even notice it’s there anymore.

I situate my phone on the left side of my hip, and my water pouch on the right side, and don’t even get much shift out of it.

This one also has a key clip, which is nice for when I’m running away from home.

Now that I’m running longer distances and the weather is getting warmer, I kinda wish I’d tried a hydration belt, but since I haven’t, I can’t vouch for any of them. This is the one I use.


Image shows a cell phone laid on a white table, with its screen open to Audible to listen to audio books.

I used to think that high-energy music was how you get through a long run, but it turns out music doesn’t really engage your mind, so you end up pounding pavement while thinking about how miserable you are.

Not fun.

I get through my long runs by listening to audiobooks at 1.5x speed – 1x speed puts me to sleep – and interesting podcasts.

It may sound crazy to leave Bon Jovi behind, but if you’re having a hard time getting through your runs, or get bored with running, TRY IT! Plus, as a mom, I don’t have a lot of time to read actual books, so running time doubles as reading time for me and absolutely makes Audible “must-have running gear”.

I find that for me books that make me think are really good. I thought maybe interesting fiction would be captivating, but I’ve done better with self-help and business books. Yesterday, I finished Start With Why, and the week before, I listened to High Performance Habits. One I’m working through here, and there is Thinner Leaner Stronger, but the second half of the book hasn’t been my favorite, so it’s slow going.

So far, since switching to audiobooks, I’ve only switched to music twice, both times, at the end of a long run (a ten-mile, and a half marathon, respectively) to get me a little extra hype to get through to the end.

Get Two Free Books From Audible Here

Tao Tronics Bluetooth Headphones

Image shows black Tao Traonics earbuds laying on a white table.

Y’all. If you’re still swinging a cord while you run, you will not believe what an upgrade bluetooth earbuds are.

The sound (particularly the bass) on this particular pair isn’t the best, which would be annoying if I was listening to music, but since I’m listening to audiobooks I don’t care.

The reason I chose these Tao Tronics earbuds is because of their long battery life, waterproofness, and low price.

My only complaint is that in cold weather, it’s hard to get my ear warmer fitted over them without knocking them out.

Sure, they’re not fancy Apple AirPods. Unlike AirPods, they will hang around your neck if they happen to fall out of your ears. So there’s that.

Fitbit Charge 2

Image shows a hand holding a FitBit Charge 2 with a purple band.

There are lots of fancy fitness watches out there, and it seems like all the serious runners are Using Garmin, which I haven’t tried.

What I can tell you is the Fitbit Charge 2 does everything *I* need it to.

  • Its GPS keeps track of how far I’ve gone, and my pace
  • Its heart rate monitor tells me how I’m doing in general and how I’m recovering between runs
  • It tells me how well I’m sleeping

That’s really all I need.

And while strictly speaking, none of those things are essential, it’s nice information to have.

Map My Run

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like running the same route over and over, so I go to mapmyrun.com before each run and map out a route.

I have found that the distances aren’t 100% accurate – at least, not according to my Fitbit, but they’re pretty close, and it’s nice to know ahead of time how far I’m going before I turn around, or how long I’ll be on each road before turning off.

It’s especially nice to be able to map out of run when you’re out of town and don’t know the area.

If you’ve been around long enough to see my fit pregnancy series in which I document my weight lifting routine during my entire pregnancy and talk about how healthy lifting heavy weights is you may be wondering, where’d that girl go?

She’s still here! I’m still lifting weight, but right now, my focus has shifted to half marathon training, and while I’m training at the gym three times a week still, I’m focusing on a lot of basics and keeping my body in good running condition.

Honestly, there are some definite upsides to running, and the fact that the cost of must-have running gear altogether is less than five months gym membership (and will last a lot longer) down at Anytime Fitness is one of them.

While they say that the only thing you need to start running is a good pair of shoes, I honestly don’t know what I would have done without my gear!

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