Essential Running Gear for Beginners

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Read on below for all the essential running gear for beginners!

The first time I went on a run, I was probably 14 or 15 years old. I didn’t have real running shoes and I definitely don’t remember what I wore. Now, 20+ years later, I have very specific clothes and shoes that I put on before I head out the door. While running is very simple, the right gear can make it much more comfortable and enjoyable. When my husband started running, he already had some Lululemon shorts, but we had to get him some new shoes and some wicking tops. I gave him a running watch as a gift to help him train for his first half marathon, but even that wasn’t necessary!

Running is one of the only sports that doesn’t require a bunch of fancy gear. You just need the right pair of running shoes. Don’t get me wrong, you can get pretty fancy with running gear and can definitely leverage multiple pairs of running shoes like I do, but it definitely isn’t required and it won’t be the reason you run faster. It’s basic, and that’s one of the reasons I love it so much.

However, once you’re running consistently, you’ll realize that running gear is FUN to shop for. There are tons of brands out there, and they all make gear specifically for runners, so there are lots of fun things to try out!

When you’re getting into running, there are only a few basic essentials you’ll need. Mainly, the right running shoes that are fitted to your foot. (And, spoiler alert, you don’t need to break in your running shoes!) Then there’s clothing. And while you can run in pretty much anything, getting clothes that are made for runners will help keep you comfortable and safe while you’re on the roads.

Essential Running Gear for Beginners

So today, I’m dedicating this post to the essential running gear that beginner runners need, plus the things to consider before purchasing.

Let’s jump in.

Essential Running Gear for Beginners

Running shoes

Like I mentioned above, good running shoes are THE most essential item for runners. Making sure you’re in the right shoes for you is essential. Go to a dedicated running store, and have them fit you. You can read all about making sure your shoes are fitted properly in this post.

I recommend starting with one pair of running shoes that can be your everyday running shoes. Don’t feel like you need shoes for races right away. Just get something that feels comfortable, for all types of runs (easy runs, long runs, etc.)

I’ve collected lots of favorite shoes over the years, but most recently I’ve been wearing my Altras and Beacons. And once you get your favorite pair, use these tips to help them last longer!

My Running Shoe Rotation

Sports Bra & Underwear

Sports Bra & Underwear for running | Essential Running Gear for Beginners

I have a few favorites when it comes to sports bras. Depending on your chest size, you might be able to use a simple pullover, compression style bra. Or, like me, you may need something more supportive with adjustable straps and hooks to customize the fit. My all time favorites are by SheFit, Lululemon and Champion.

When I was running while pregnant, I found this affordable bra which was great since it didn’t break the bank on a bra size I won’t need forever. It also worked great for nursing (which often happens right before or after a run) with the straps that unlatch in the front. Here’s a round up of the best supportive sports bras for running. 

For underwear, some of my shorts have a built in liner and I don’t wear underwear with those. For shorts that don’t (like my favorite fitted shorts and running tights), I prefer to wear a thong. It looks better and I personally find it the most comfortable. I’ve tried dozens of brands and Hanky Panky is by far the most comfortable to run in. It stays in place and doesn’t shift. They’re expensive, yes, but it’s worth it.

If you really don’t want to wear a thong, this is my go-to pick for briefs.

My Favorite Sports Bras + Underwear

Running socks

You can see all my favorite running socks here. (Yes, I have a full post dedicated to it!) But in short, don’t run in cotton and choose socks that wick sweat. That will help prevent blisters.

My Favorite Running Socks

Running clothes

Essential Running Gear for Beginners - running clothes

For warm weather running I like to wear loose fitting tank tops from Lululemon or Athleta. My favorites from Lululemon are the Sculpt tank and the Train To Be tank. From Athleta, I love the In Motion Tank. I also love this Zella tank that’s under $30 and comes in lots of colors. For shorts, I like the Fast and Free shorts and the Mesh Racer Running shorts.

For cooler weather, I run in the Fast and Free Leggings. And I’ll either wear a long sleeve Swiftly Tee or the short sleeve version.

Most running specific brands make running clothes with technical fabric designed to help keep you cool and dry(er) on your run.  I strongly recommend against anything that’s cotton, so don’t just use an old t-shirt from your closet. It will hold onto sweat and get heavy, making your run miserable, whether it’s blazing hot or freezing cold. (This post has my summer running essentials and this post has my favorite cold weather running gear.)

If you run in the early morning or at night, see my favorite gear for running in the dark that will also help you stay safe.

My Favorite Running Clothes

Running Jackets

running jackets

I recently found my all time favorite running vest this past winter. I had thought about buying it for years and once I finally did, I regretted not buying it sooner. A vest is the perfect layer for me because I always warm up so much while running. It’s lightweight but still warm, and I love how flattering it is.

For rainy runs, I recommend a shell if you’re on a long run. I like to run in the rain if it isn’t too cold, and don’t mind getting soaked. But if it’s chilly or you’re going to run for a while, try this jacket.

If it’s VERY cold out (30 or below), go for this jacket.

If we’re just talking a chilly day but dry, I like a 1/2 zip since I can unzip it for a little air once I warm up.

My Favorite Running Jackets

Running watch 

Essential Running Gear for Beginners - running watch garmin

While you may not be ready to invest in a true GPS running watch (here are some pros and cons), I still recommend something that can keep track of your time. Even if that’s an old Timex – they make sports watches!

If you already have an Apple Watch, stick with that for now. If you’re ready to get something with more bells and whistles, I recommend a Garmin Forerunner. I’ve had it for YEARS and it’s been perfect for everything I need. The model I have is so old that it’s really affordable now but it still works GREAT and has the essential features a runner needs.

My Favorite Running Watch


AfterShokz headphones

While running without music is usually my favorite, it’s hard to beat a playlist with a great beat. And when I need to get motivated before a workout, I like to play music that helps me get in the zone. For a while I wore AirPods exclusively and loved them. They stayed in pretty well, but when I got really sweaty they’s slip sometimes which bothered me. I also didn’t love that I felt a little hearing impaired while wearing them. I like to be SUPER aware while I’m running for safety reasons, so I started looking for alternatives. See my pros and cons of the AirPods here.

I recently got the AfterShokz headphones, and I cannot say enough great things about them. They use bone conduction technology to play music so that you don’t actually have to have anything IN your ear and can hear your surroundings better. See my full review here.

My Favorite Running Headphones


Okay, now, you’re ready to run! Here are my distance running tips for beginners and if you’re ready to take a deeper dive to improve your running, join my online running team!

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