15 Essential Running Gear For Beginners

Need to know what running gear you need as a beginner? Here are the 15 essential running gear for beginners.

If you are starting your running journey, first of all, congratulations–I am so proud of you!

And second of all, are you prepared for your next run? Do you have all the essential running gear to make the most out of your run?

Or maybe you had no idea that there was or is running gear to help make your runs more enjoyable and efficient.

In today’s blog post I am sharing with you a list of 15 of the best running gear for beginners. You will certainly not want to go out on your next run without these running gear essentials!

A photo of running shoes in a corner. The text overlay says, "essential running gear for beginners."

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Running clothes and accessories

Running tops

When you start running or working out, you’re probably not investing in athletic tops and that’s ok!

I’m all for being frugal and using what you have before investing in higher quality running gear or tools.

However, once you are in the routine of running or working out, you will want to invest in a few good running tops.

And it’s not like running in a cotton t-shirt is necessarily bad for running. It won’t prevent you from running, but your everyday cotton t-shirt is not capable of wicking away sweat and actually retains the moisture coming from your body.

A little gross, huh?

Also, cotton doesn’t move as well with your body versus material or fabric used to make athletic tops.

As a result, your cotton shirt will start weighing you down as you are running and you’ll feel wetter and wetter the more you sweat. Also, your cotton shirt retains your body odor, which may ruin your favorite cotton tee over time. A cotton shirt may also rub your skin the wrong way leading to chafing!

My advice, get some athletic tops!

Runners Need suggests looking for tops with the following fabric type(s):

  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Polypropylene
  • Spandex
  • Bamboo
  • Merino Wool

If you are on a running gear for beginners shoestring budget, I would suggest looking at the athletic-wear brand 90 Degree by Reflex.

You can get a pack of 3 short sleeve athletic tops for under $25.

And if you want to stay cooler, I highly recommend their Power Flex Racerback Tank Top.

Their tank tops are pretty pricey online, like through Amazon and their official website, but usually, Marshalls or T.J. Maxx will have them at a discounted price. And a wider variety of colors too!

You can also check out name brands like Adidas (I like this tank top for running), Nike, Athleta, Lululemon, and Gymshark (I like this crop top/long sports bra from them).

Sports bras for running

When gearing up for a run, a sports bra is a must-have!

A sports bra keeps “things” from wiggling around or falling out of place. They can also serve as a cute laying piece underneath your workout top of choice.

Personally, I love my Gymshark Energy + Seamless Crop Top, Gymshark Flex Sports Bra, and Gymshark Camo Seamless Sports Bra.

I wear a size medium in all my Gymshark sports bras because they are pretty compressive and a medium allows me to breathe easier compared to a size small. However, since I have recently lost weight, I think I could also now fit into a size small.

If you’re looking for budget-friendly sports bras for running, you can get a 4-pack of these sports bras from Amazon.com for under $40. I love these sports bras, but they are not as compressive as the Gymshark ones. However, they’re just as functional!

Running shorts and leggings

I don’t think you are planning on running half-naked, so here are some running gear essentials for the bottom half of you.

Personally, I run in shorts 99.9% of the time.

Living in Georgia, it is hot and humid about 6 months out of the year and I cannot stand leggings (or even wearing jeans) in the late spring, summer, and early fall.

Nike’s Dri-Fit Tempo Shorts make great running shorts and they are a staple in my everyday wardrobe. They even have a small pocket inside the lining which is perfect for stashing your car key while running.

However, I have been searching for a more budget-friendly option and Target’s All In Motion brand has amazing running shorts (with a pocket) and high waisted bicycle shorts that are perfect for running in!

When it does get colder out, I like to wear leggings from 90 Degree by Reflex and my Gymshark Flex and Camo leggings.

If you are looking for more workout legging options, I recommend watching Kathryn Mueller’s YouTube videos.

She makes a lot of athletic wear review videos and has great recommendations for budget-friendly athletic wear from Amazon and AliExpress. She even does athletic wear reviews from Instagram brands like Paragon, Balance, and BuffBunny.

Running shoes

If there is one running gear essential you need to invest in it has to be your running shoes.

When I started running, I was literally running in a pair of Nike’s I have had for a couple of years. While running I would get this sharp pain in my calves and it wouldn’t go away until I stopped running.

Once I ran my first 10k I decided to invest in a pair of actual running shoes and my calve pain went away!

However, it is important to note that running shoes will not correct an incorrect running form or technique, which could also lead to injury or long-term damage.

Running shoes are kind of like wearing makeup: wearing makeup can help compliment your features, but wearing makeup does not change who you are as a person.

To make a change in who you are as a person, you have to take actionable steps and alter your behavior. The same goes for running shoes and your running technique.

A pair of running shoes will help compliment how your feet naturally run, but they will not magically correct an improper running technique. Developing the correct running technique involves learning and practicing maintaining a good running technique until it becomes a habit.

To find the best running shoes for you I would skip going to your local Nike or Adidas Outlet or local sports store.

Instead, I would go to a running specialty store that has the equipment to analyze how your feet move while running. Then you can get the perfect running shoes that compliment your feet’s natural way of running!

Running socks

Having the appropriate running socks can be a game-changer in regards to comfort and security while running.

One of the most annoying experiences while running is when your sock is sliding down and you’re literally running with half a sock on. It has happened way too many times for me and it does not make for a comfortable run.

The best socks for running are socks with heel tabs.

Socks with heel tabs have extra fabric at the heel to make the heel of the sock slightly thicker. It’s incredible how just a little bit of extra fabric can make running and even everyday sock wearing more enjoyable.

I recommend the Balega Hidden Comfort No-Show Running Socks, but they are pricey for just one pair.

For a more budget-friendly option, I also recommend the Active Accents athletic socks from Target from their All In Motion Brand–they come in a pack of 4 for less than a pair of the Balega ones.

I have several pairs of the All In Motion athletic socks and I am reaching for them in my sock drawer way more than the Balega ones!

However, I do find the Balega ones to thinner, and thus, more breathable than the All In Motion ones from Target.


When you go out for a run it’s best practice to carry your phone, some form of identification, and your keys.

However, all of those items can be difficult to manage while you’re out running, and running is not supposed to be a juggling act.

There are a lot of different options you can look into: a fanny pack, an armband, and even a backpack, to carry everything you need while running for safety (phone and ID) and getting back home (keys).

However, fanny packs can look bulky under your clothes, armbands can make your arm feel weighed down, and a backpack is a little extreme if you’re just going out on a run that’s under 10 miles.

The best solution that I have found is the FlipBelt, which is a lightweight band made out of a Spandex-Lycra blend material that goes around your waist while running.

The original FlipBelt has 4 compartments and even a built-in hook so your keys don’t fall out.

If you feel insecure about the FlipBelt not having a zipper, you can turn the FlipBelt compartments in towards your body to make your items more secure. However, there is a zipper version of the FlipBelt too!

Personally, I have the original, non-zipper FlipBelt and I have never had a problem with items falling out while running.

When I do go out for a run, I have my iPhone in the front of my FlipBelt, my car key and apartment keys hooked into the key hook, and I put my driver’s license into the phone case of my phone.

And while I’m running I hardly notice my FlipBelt!

The FlipBelt is snug against my body and there’s no weird bouncing, no weird rashes after my run, and it does not make my body feel weighed down either.

When I am done with my run and back home, I throw my FlipBelt into the washer and it’s all fresh and clean for my next run.

The FlipBelt is also great if you love going on long walks, hiking, bike rides, or even to a concert, amusement park, or any place that it’s difficult to carry a bag or purse.


When the sun is out and the temperatures are steadily rising, a hat is a must-have to prevent sunburns, protect your eyes, and keep you cooled down.

Just like your running tops and bottoms, I would recommend choosing a hat that is not 100% cotton.

You’ll want to get a running hat made of fabric and materials that wicks away moisture, dries fast, adjustable to your head, and provides protection from the sun.

Wireless earphones or Bluetooth earphones

Along with having your sock fall off your foot while running, another annoyance while running is getting tangled up in your earphone cords.

To solve this, I would highly recommend investing in wireless or Bluetooth earphones for running if you enjoy listening to music, podcasts (my personal running entertainment of choice), or audiobooks while running.

When I run I always use the PowerBeats 3 wireless Bluetooth earphones and I have never had any issues with the sound quality, having the earpieces fall out of my ears, or its battery life.

Fitness tracking watch

When you are starting to run as a beginner it may be useful to track your progress. As you become a stronger runner, it is also nice to have a record of your runs to see just how far you have come.

A fitness watch like a FitBit or an Apple Watch is perfect for tracking your runs from the total mileage, the total time it took you to complete your run, pacing, heart rate, etc.

I personally cannot live without my Apple Watch on a day-to-day basis and especially for my runs. And I am always thrilled when my activity ring gets closed after a run.


If you have medium to long hair it is nearly impossible to run without tying your hair up. I simply cannot imagine running with all of my hair in my face!

However, it can be hard to find hair ties that don’t snag your hair, give you a headache while running, or break while you are putting your hair up.

I have found the best hair ties to be the ones with a coil or just scrunchies. However, if you have super thick hair, like me, you may need to double up on hair ties.

Identification tag

Unfortunately, running does come with risks.

If you frequent running routes with lots of traffic and cars there is a chance that one day you may be hit by a car.

Without proper identification attached to you, like a driver’s license or state ID, it can be difficult for emergency services to identify your body and contact a family member, friend, or significant other about your injury.

I hope you always carry identification on you, but if not here are two strategies you can implement:

  1. You can use your phone as an identification method: If you have an iPhone, the Health App has a Medical ID section that will allow you to put in health and contact information if you are ever injured and become unconscious while out on a run. Alternatively, you could create an iPhone wallpaper with important information like your name, allergies, and your emergency contact information.

  1. Purchase a physical ID tag: there is a company called RoadID that allows you to purchase an identification bracelet, ID attachment for your smartwatch (FitBit, Garmin, or Apple Watch), or an ID plate for your shoe that you can wear while running to help medical personnel identify you if are injured.



After a long run, your body is depleted from electrolytes from sweating so much. Not having enough electrolytes can make you feel sluggish and get a headache among other side effects from having too little electrolytes.

Most of the time the food that you eat will replenish your electrolytes, but if you are really running vigorously or exercising in hot temperatures, supplementing electrolytes from a drink may be beneficial.

Personally, I love consuming my electrolytes with Liquid IV in the Lemon Lime flavor.

I like to make my electrolyte drink before I go out for my run, especially if I’m running a 10k, and stick the drink mix in my fridge or insulated lunch bag, and have it as a refreshing after-run treat.

BCAAs or pre-workout supplement

It sounds pretty gimmicky, but incorporating BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) or a pre-work supplement into your runs can really take your runs to the next level.

BCAAs, according to Healthline, can help your body build muscle, reduce muscle soreness, and reduce the amount of fatigue you feel during your runs. I have definitely seen improvement in muscle soreness once I started drinking a BCAA supplement.

My personal favorite BCAA supplement is Alani Nu in Sour Gummy. It’s really refreshing and yummy, but it can be a little chalky even after a good mix in my blender bottle and it is not sour despite its name!

However, you don’t have to buy fancy BCAA powder to get your BCAAs in. Foods like meat, bean, milk, eggs, cheese, etc. all have BCAAs.

An alternative, or in addition to BCAAs, are pre-workout supplements that get your body pumped up and more focused on your workout.

These supplements are like caffeine on steroids especially if you aren’t careful about how much you consume.

Pre-workout supplements often contain beta-alanine, which makes your body tingle (and itch). As a result, you feel more motivated to workout.

I would HIGHLY recommend only using half a serving of whatever pre-workout mix you buy or are trying out.

Taking a full serving can result in chaos, mentally and physically, if you are not used to or prepared for your body’s reaction to the beta-alanine. Trust me on this one!

The first time I tried out a pre-workout supplement I drank an entire serving and I thought something was seriously wrong with me medically because I was itchy and tingly EVERYWHERE!

A good starter pre-workout is the Alani Nu pre-workout in Hawaiian Shaved Ice.

It’s super sweet without the sugar or calories and it does what it is supposed to do.

When I drink pre-workout before running I feel a lot more confident on my runs and don’t tend to hit a mental wall versus when I don’t drink pre-workout.

However, remember that taking supplements will not make you into a pro-runner instantly. Drinking a BCAA or pre-workout supplement will not make you be able to run a 5k straight through if you’ve only trained up to run a mile.

Gaining the endurance to withstand longer runs takes time, patience, and commitment. If you’re having a difficult time with your running journey I highly suggest you check out a previous blog post of mine about how to start running for beginners.

Miscellaneous running gear for beginners

Water bottle

Running with a water bottle can get a little clunky unless you have a small water bottle that fits in your FitBelt or fanny pack, but I do like having a filled up water bottle waiting for me in the car after I finish my run.

An insulated water bottle, like a Hydroflask, will be your new post-run BFF on a hot summer day when you return from your run and you have chilled water waiting for you.

I like filling up my HydroFlask with ice and chilled water and storing it in a shaded place in my car to keep it nice and cool while I’m out on my run.

Alternatively, you could freeze a water bottle and have it thaw out in your car while you’re out running, but be careful because sometimes freezing a water bottle can break it due to the water expanding the water bottle beyond its physical capacity.

Lunch box with ice packs

Here’s a running hack for you: if you want to keep your post-run water and snack(s) nice and cool, pack them in an insulated lunch box with ice packs.

I’ve had way too many times when I’ve come back from a run with my protein bar all melted and my water at a lukewarm temperature. Investing a small amount of money in an insulated lunch box and two ice packs have made all the difference!

Protein bars

Running will make you hungry.

Maybe not right after the run, but once your body gets over the fact you just made it go through an extensive amount of work it’ll start sending your stomach ALL the hunger signals.

If you are running to lose weight being hungry all the time can be counterproductive to your weight loss goals. To curb your hunger, try to eat protein bars.

Protein will keep you fuller for longer, curb your hunger, and help you recover from your run as well. However, be wary of what protein bars you purchase and consume.

Not all protein bars are made the same and some contain way too many calories and sugar, and not enough protein to satisfy your hunger. I personally have enjoyed Quest Nutrition’s line of protein bars which are surprisingly tasty!

They don’t have that protein after taste or grittiness and have less than 1 gram of sugar, under 300 calories per bar, and about 20 grams of protein.

So far I have tried Quest Nutrition’s protein bars in the chocolate hazelnut, chocolate sprinkled donut, cookies and cream, chocolate chip cookie dough (my favorite!), and white chocolate raspberry, and I have not been disappointed at all!

Sunscreen and bug spray

Running is a lot more fun when you aren’t burnt or constantly swapping away mosquitos.

So unless you are running on a treadmill or an indoor track with minimal to no sunlight you need to wear sunscreen whenever you go out on a run and spray on some bug spray during the summer months.

It can be hard to find an easy to apply sunscreen and bug spray that doesn’t drip into your eyes or feels icky putting on, but I have found the Banana Boat Simply Protect Sport spray-on sunscreen and the OFF! Smooth & Dry bug spray to tick off all the boxes of what I want in sunscreen and/or bug spray.

Concluding thoughts on the running gear you need as a beginner

Starting your running journey is so exciting!

You are pushing your body further with each run and building up what you can handle mentally. Running can also be an excellent way to get fit, clear your head, and get some “you” time in.

If you are wanting to start your running journey with the right gear or if you want to upgrade your running gear, I hope you will consider looking into the 15 essential running gear for beginners we discussed today!

Do you have any running gear essentials for new runners you would like to add to this list? Please feel free to leave them in the comments section down below! I’d love to hear about them!

Thanks for reading about must have running gear for beginners.

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