One of the advantages of running is that there is not too much that you need to buy before getting started.
The most important piece of training equipment is your running shoes. Many people think that because they are novices, any old shoes will do and they dig out a 10-year-old pair of tennis takkies that really deserve to be turfed.
The problem with shoes like this is that they can make your initial running experience negative and painful and you might find that you give up on running before you have given it a fair chance. This isn’t to say that you go and buy the most expensive branded shoe on the market – but rather that you buy something reasonable.
What is reasonable? Your best bet is to go to a running shoe store where the staff is well trained to give you advice about footwear. They should:
- Check your old training shoes to see wearing patterns.
- Assess your footstrike (how your foot lands when you run).
- Chat to you about your running plans (i.e. do you only ever want to run 5-km fun runs or would you consider running half marathons for example?).
- Give you a few options of suitable running shoes.
- Let you try out the running shoes in the shop.
You might find that the cheapest of the range is the best fitting and most comfortable or perhaps you have to fork out a little more than you had expected. It will pay in the long run to purchase a good shoe, otherwise you might find yourself spending many hours and lots of money nursing an injury.
Visit the Sports Science Institute Medical Practice for a proper shoe assessment (ph: 021 659 5644).
Other equipment you might need includes:
- Comfortable running socks (perhaps with a cushioned heel).
- Running shorts and a T-shirt. Some novices run in tracksuit pants, but your body temperature rises so quickly when you run that shorts or some form of Lycra leggings are a better option for most. A long-sleeved T-shirt is a better option when temperatures are low.
- A stopwatch. Many runners like to time their runs. One can buy really cheap stopwatches these days.
- A waterproof running top. An inexpensive, brightly coloured waterproof top will be available at most sports stores.
- A reflector belt is essential if you plan to run at dawn, dusk or at night.
- A pair of 100% UV-protected sunglasses to protect your eyes from the dangerous UV rays.
- A lightweight tracksuit or sweatshirt to put on as soon as you have stopped running.
Needless to say, the running shoes remain your first priority, so don’t suddenly feel that you can no longer afford to run.
What other expenses might you have?
If you decide to join a running club, you will need to pay for:
- The annual membership fee, which usually includes your running license.
- The running club kit (shorts and a running vest).
If you want to be monitored, and go about training more scientifically and with less chance of injury, you might decide to:
- Try a supervised fitness programme such as OptiFit Walk and Run Health Programme (if in Cape Town or Howick (KZN))
Finally, if you decide to enter a road race, you will pay an entry fee dependent on the distance: a 10-km race might cost about R15, whereas a race such as Comrades costs in the range of R120.
For the shorter distances, you can enter as a non-club runner, but you will not need to purchase a temporary license, which is R10. Therefore, if you plan to enter many races, it is almost better to join a club and obtain a running license.
Good luck with making your decision. Running is an excellent choice and will bring many hours of pleasure, tremendous health benefits and other undefined rewards.
- (Kathleen McQuaide, Sports Scientist)