Walking Guide

Enhance Your Performance With These 15 Essential Running Items

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Nearly 64 million people in the United States alone consider themselves runners or joggers, meaning if you're not a runner, chances are you at least know one. Whether it's the elusive "runner's high" or pushing your pace, there's just something about running that hooks people.

Though technically all you need is a pair of shoes and some pavement to run, the truth is, required running equipment can get more nuanced than that. What you choose to run in, what you want to carry and what you might need along the way all depends on your personal preferences and the distance you are running. 

Whether for yourself or for a friend, there are many products designed to help you run more comfortably, make the time pass more quickly, keep you fueled and help to prevent injuries so you can enjoy many more runs to come.
Keep Your ID on You ($29.99)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

A Road ID bracelet can be a lifesaver. Containing your name, emergency contact information and any medical conditions, this bracelet acts as a go-to for good Samaritans or first responders who would attend to you should you have an accident while running or are unable to speak. No matter if you run trails, on busy roads or just through the park, this bracelet is a must-have.
A Handy Water Bottle (starting at $17.35)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

It's important to drink water during the day for hydration, and it's even more important to stay hydrated when you're working out. Keep your water close—wait for it—at hand by literally carrying it in your palm. This water bottle from Nathan is easy to drink from and comes with a fully adjustable hand strap with a thumbhole so you don't have to waste any energy gripping a water bottle. The expandable zippered compartment is great for storing your keys, phone or other essentials. 
Hydrate for Miles ($37.11)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

For the more serious runner, a handheld water bottle just won't do. If your running plans take you on the trails or down the road for many miles and you have no interest in stopping, you'll need to carry along adequate hydration. The CamelBak Mil-Tac HydroBak Hydration Pack (say that three times fast) holds 1.5 liters of water, no hands required. Ergonomic and economical, you'll love having your hydration at the ready during all your long runs. 
A Running Guide to Get You Moving ($15.71)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Who doesn't want to run faster, farther and injury-free? Learn from the creator of the Pose Method of running, Dr. Nicholas Romanov. In "The Running Revolution," Dr. Romanov explains to both beginner and experienced runners not only the proper way to run but also how to run while minimizing injury and wear and tear on the body. According to Amazon, "'The Running Revolution' provides readers with clear instructions, complete with helpful illustrations, that they can easily integrate into their unique running histories in order to run safely, intelligently and efficiently for many years to come."
Find the Proper Nutrition to Power Up Your Workout ($15.70)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

"Garbage in, garbage out," goes the saying. Fuel your body for running and other activities with nutritional, delicious recipes from marathoner and four-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan and chef Elyse Kopecky. Containing more than 100 recipes on everything ranging from full meals to drinks and snacks, plus nutrition information and a healthy dose of inspiration, Flanagan and Kopecky deliver an entire book of delicious dishes that contain no refined sugar or flour. 
Running Apps (prices vary)

Whether you want to run one mile or 10, there's an app for that. Download one of our favorites in the iTunes store or the Google Play store, lace up your shoes, plug in your headphones and get running. From apps that will coach you through a 5K to apps that are GPS-enabled to keep track of your routes, times and mileage, we're sure you'll find the perfect fit for your running needs.
Glow in the Dark with Night Safety Gear (starting at $8.95)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Whether you prefer to run without the sun because it's the only time you can fit in a workout (early risers and night owls, we're talking to you), because the temperature is cooler in the evenings or early mornings, or just because you just enjoy the quiet of the night, keeping yourself visible to others is key. Make sure vehicles and pedestrians alike are aware of your presence by throwing on this lightweight reflective vest or adjustable bands over your running clothes before you head out. When the sun's nowhere to be seen, it's never a bad idea to bring extra awareness to your stance on the street.
Music to Keep You Moving (download prices vary)

There's nothing like cueing up your favorite music to get you motivated to put one foot in front of the other, power through the most grueling of hills or keep you going just a little farther than your legs really want. Whether you enjoy classic rock, country, girl power anthems or energizing music, the right playlist can make a huge difference in any run at any time.
Stomach-Friendly Energy & Nourishment ($29.95 for a pack of 24)

Photo courtesy of 

From energy bars to drinks and from gels to GU, there are a lot of ways to keep your body fueled and energized for whatever length of run the day brings. Though typically you can plan ahead to eat before a workout or to refuel after a workout, sometimes you need a little extra energy during a workout, particularly if your runs are long or take you through rough terrain. In this case, an energy gel might be required. Carry these little easy-to-digest pouches with you for instant nourishment you can squeeze right into your mouth to deliver maximum results while you continue your workout.
Finally Find the Perfect Shoe (prices vary)

Minimal, trail, stability, cushioned, shock-absorbing—which shoe is right for you? Wonder no more with these five handy flowcharts that can help you pick the perfect shoe for your foot, running style and environment. The shoe can make all the difference in making sure you are striking the ground correctly and preventing injury. Perhaps the most important part of an effective and safe run, make sure you take the time to consider all the factors before buying a running shoe.
A Perfect Pair of Running Socks ($14.99)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

You wouldn't think something as simple as the perfect running sock would be so hard to find. Not too thick, not too thin, high enough on the ankle to prevent blisters from your shoes, but not so high it cuts off your circulation…it can seem nearly impossible to score the right pair. These compression socks from Swiftwick could be just what you've been looking for. The socks are available in four sizes and made from a lightweight, high-performing Olefin fiber that promises to wick moisture, dry quickly, resist rubbing and hold their color. They even boast arch support and the thinner upper part of the sock helps keep the socks light and breathable.
Comfortably Carry Your Necessities ($14.99)

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

If you prefer your equipment carrying to be hands-free on your runs, you'll appreciate the URPOWER running belt. Water resistant, lightweight and containing a roomy zipper pocket for carrying necessities plus room for two water bottles, you'll wonder how you ever went for a run without it.   
Listen to Your Favorite Music or Podcasts ($25.99)

Photo courtesy of 

Quickly pair these TaoTronics headphones with your smartphone to cue up your favorite running playlist, podcast or audiobook. Lightweight, noise-canceling and snug-fitting, these headphones can also handle a little rain thanks to their water-resistant coating. Finally, you can sync up, plug in and enjoy your runs without distraction.
Keep Your Phone Close ($10.98)

Photo courtesy of 

Not everyone likes to carry their essentials around their waist. Some people find it more comfortable to use a simple armband for their smartphone to keep track of your route or listen to music. This band from Tribe is water resistant and fits a lot of different styles of phones, from iPhones to Android models. Plus, it comes in eight different colors and has a no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee.
Roll Out the Aches and Pains (starting at $38.39)

Photo courtesy of 

Running can take a toll on your muscles and joints. Find some relief with a foam roller from TriggerPoint. Follow along online with free instructional videos for getting the most out of the roller. Made with GRID technology and sturdy enough to withstand up to 500 pounds without losing its shape, this roller will keep your muscles loose and limber for many runs to come.   
We hope you love these products a much as we do! SparkPeople may collect a small percentage of revenue from links on this page.

What would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments!

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See more: fitness running gear


BONDMANUS2002 5/20/2018
Absolutely great Report
BONDMANUS2002 5/20/2018
Absolutely great Report
JAMER123 5/19/2018
Good article. It's a great idea for the ID band with phone numbers etc as well as good hydration. Report
HOLLYM48 5/19/2018
Great article! Report
JJS0922 5/19/2018
Thank you! Report
PLCHAPPELL 5/19/2018
Very helpful Report
RO2BENT 5/19/2018
Good stuff Report
RAPUNZEL53 5/18/2018
Thanks. Report
LUV2DNS 5/18/2018
Good article. We need bear spray in our area or something loud to scare a bear when encountered. Even something a little noisy when we run helps the bears and you by warning them to move off ahead of time. Report
97MONTY 5/18/2018
Thanks Report
AMYSUZEQ 5/18/2018
Thank you! Report
AZMOMXTWO 5/18/2018
thank you Report
PICKIE98 5/18/2018
ID and water. Essential when alone. Report
PICKIE98 5/18/2018
ID and water. Essential when alone. Report
NEPTUNE1939 5/18/2018
TY Report
RO2BENT 5/18/2018
A lot of these are not really useful for short runs like five Kaser 10K Report
TCANNO 5/18/2018
good ideas Report
ZRIE014 5/17/2018
thank you for the information Report
RHOOK20047 5/17/2018
Some nice gift ideas! Report
MUSICNUT 5/16/2018
Thanks for the great ideas! :) Report
ZRIE014 5/16/2018
great information Report
RHOOK20047 5/15/2018
Great ideas.... Report
2DAWN4 5/15/2018
Thanks for the great article! Report
SHOAPIE 5/15/2018
Good info Report
ETCH12 5/15/2018
Thank you for the excellent ideas. Report
KHALIA2 5/15/2018
Great tips! Thanks! Report
JANIEWWJD 5/15/2018
Thanks for all the ideas!!! Report
KATHYJO56 5/15/2018
What a great list. Report
ZRIE014 5/15/2018
thanks Report
Giving my fiance the Garmin Forerunner next week for his birthday!!
Also...Agree with LGLANDT...Marathoning for Mortals is fantastic!! Report
oh, yeah, and heading to the rainy pacific-NW, I could go for some wet-weather gear too!! Report
I'd like someone to gift me a heart-rate monitor and reflective gear. And gift certificates for shoes and proper running clothes would help!! I now (after being a runner for half my life) realize that cotton shirts get heavy when drenched in sweat. Ick. Report
I love the Road ID. I think it is a great idea not just for runners but anyone that doesn't have a locker at the gym. Report
I would add Yankz laces. Under 10 dollars...they make a great stocking stuffer. I've had a pair for 2 years now and I am currently hoping Santa brings me a second pair. Report
you know you're a runner when most of the items on the list you already have...so if my family is on spearkpeople trying to figure out what to get me for Chrismas this list will not do them much good. hehehe Gift certificate at the local running store will be good, thank you! Report
Good list. Another idea is to pay for someone's race entry (for those training for half-marathons or marathons). Report
A key holder that attaches to your shoe laces and a knit cap with a hole in the back for a woman's ponytail holder. Both of these are my list this year! :) Report
Balega socks from Running warehouse always free shipping- I love those people!( and I love those socks!) Report
Love what ya got for the Runners.. Report
These are awesome gift ideas. I wish I knew a runner or an avid outdoors man. Report
Great ideas Report
Nancy--anything for walkers? Report
My 18 yod runs, and she always has her PEPPER SPRAY and Huge Whistle, plus her cell phone. They have a "Pet Tag" machine at Walmart and for $5 you can get an ID so I'll get one and she can pin it to her waistband, so thanks for the ID suggestion. Report
Thank you so much !!! Our daughter loves to run every day and the Road ID will be a great Christmas gift for her. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! Report
Thanks for the great list. The book and mag are a must do! Report
Great listing Nancy. I'm with Jenn - in that I was sure you'd have a Matt Fitzgerald book on this list! And the Garmin revolutionized my running too. It made me so much more aware of heart rate zones, and trying to burn fat instead of glycogen during longer runs. It would make a great gift for any runner (or cyclist).

Somebody suggested Sport Beans for the stocking! Woohoo - I'm going to do that too. Thanks for the idea. Report
Great suggestions!
On my list this year are a waterproof/windproof jacket, RW magazine, and and extra pair of my favorite running shoes before they move on to a new model!
Thank you for the ideas. Report
I agree with others that RoadID is a great gift. I bought mine for biking. Report
Great list Nancy!!

On my list: "winter" running socks - need something thicker to block the wind and snow! Blinky lights for visibility. A stocking full of my favorite gels!!
Walking Guide
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