If you’re new to running, you may be a bit overwhelmed by all the gear and lingo that gets thrown around by the more experienced runners. You may wonder if you really need everything that they talk about, or if it’s OK to start out with a few basics. This article will help you understand what you truly need when you’re just getting started and what you can (or cannot) add as you tackle more miles.

Essential Items

First, let’s talk about the necessary items. All you really need is a pair of good running sneakers—something comfortable to wear while you run—and, for women, a good sports bra. Seriously, that’s it. Everything else is gravy.

I personally like Asics and Brooks running sneakers, but feel free to check out some of the other brands as well. One of the best ways to get the right sneaker for you is to visit a local running store and have them watch you run on a treadmill. They should be able to help you pick the right shoe for you. Running in the old sneakers you have in your closet is probably not the best idea, and could lead to injury, so take the time to get some advice from the experts.

Once you have your sneakers picked out, look for some basic running apparel. You’ll need a shirt or two, preferably made of good wicking material, as that will help pull the sweat away from your body and will dry faster than cotton. But, if you’re just starting, feel free to wear what you have in your closet. You’ll also need running shorts, pants, tights or even a skirt, if you like. Feel free to shop for new ones or just wear what you have at home.

A good sports bra is a must for women and I recommend getting a good one. Don’t skimp on your sports bra! If you’re not comfortable while running there is no way you will stick to it. I love Champion brand bras, as they provide good support and minimal chafing.

If you are planning to go long—say 10 miles or more—then you may need Body Glide to help reduce chafing. (You can also use Vaseline as well. The only real difference is that Body Glide has a good applicator.)

You’ll also need a water bottle if you’re going to run more than 4 or 5 miles. In the summer that distance will probably drop to around 3 miles, but that will depend on each person’s biology. Just remember that it’s always better to have too much water with you than not enough. To start, feel free to carry a bottle of water you can get at any grocery store. As you run more and farther, you can invest in a better bottle at that time.

Helpful Gear

There is so much gear that can be helpful to runners, and it can be absolutely overwhelming. Here is a breakdown of some things that are helpful, but not absolutely necessary—especially for the beginning runner.

A running watch can help you know your pace, encourage you to run faster, or run negative splits (running the second half of a run faster than the first half). Watches can range from a simple Timex 1440, costing around $20, to a several-hundred dollar Garmin with GPS and automatic splits. If you truly want to get faster then you will need a watch so you can measure your pace and progress.

A smartphone loaded with a few running apps can also be a great help. You can even use your smartphone in place of a watch. Any standard smartphone will work, and you will probably want to buy an armband to hold it while you run. You can find an armband online at multiple sites or in your local running store.

Now that you have your smartphone ready to hit the road with you, you’ll need an app or two. If you’re doing a C25K program, definitely download one of the available apps either from the Couch to 5K site or Jeff Galloway. You may also be interested in RunKeeper, Endomondo or DailyMile to help with tracking your speed, distance and progress. And last but not least, if you’re into raising money for charity simply by running, check out Charity Miles. It’s a free app that lets you raise money for a number of charities every time you run.

When your runs are on the shorter side, say up to 5 miles, you don’t need a runner’s belt, but it can be helpful to carry keys, ID or some cash in case of emergencies. As you increase your distance, you will need a belt to carry fuel and/or water. There are all different kinds of belts. Some will carry water bottles, some energy gels, and almost all have a pocket for small personal items. Some inexpensive, good fuel belts can be found at SPIbelt.com.

Another item you will need as you run longer is some sort of fuel for your body. You are looking for a simple carbohydrate that your system can easily absorb to keep you fueled on your longer runs. You can try energy gels such as GU or Honey Stinger packets, energy chews like Shot Bloks or even candy like jellybeans or gummy bears. Stay away from chocolate, as the fat content will not work as well as the sugary candy, and can upset your stomach.

One last piece of gear that can be helpful as you continue running: a foam roller. A f long tube that helps you massage and stretch your muscles after you run, a foam roller helps to break up the lactic acid in your muscles as well. You don’t run with your foam roller, but rather use it after you run to help your body recover faster.

More: 10 Foam Roller Exercises for Runners

Original Post: http://www.active.com/running/articles/running-gear-for-beginners-the-essential-helpful-and-fun