If you want to be a runner, you have to have the proper attire. No, I’m not suggesting you go out and spend hundreds of dollars on running gear. After all, this is also a personal finance site and that would be dishonest.
However, I do believe you should make a small investment in a good pair of running shoes and socks. I know it sounds crazy, but making sure you have socks that don’t lose their tightness and shape is very important. The last thing you want are blisters to derail your training progress.
I put together a list of the best gear based on my own knowledge, Amazon rankings, and other running blogs. Check them out, read reviews, and find the items that fit you best. (I do want to add that the following links are affiliate links).
Best Men’s Running Shoe for Beginners: ASICS Venture 5
So, I picked these ASICS shoes as a recommendation because they are a top seller on Amazon. I have not personally used them, but they do have 4.5/5 stars with over 4,800 reviews. Of those reviews, 60% are 5 stars. Seems like a solid shoe all in all. Price is pretty reasonable too and starts at around $40. Pros are that people use it for a variety of reasons and it holds up — from logging the running miles to using them as a delivery man to using them for yard work.
So, the shoe holds up for most people and one gentleman mentioned how it helped his plantar fasciitis. However, for the cons, some people have found that the shoe wasn’t quite as durable. It may not be a great trail running shoe it appears. That said, at 4.5 stars and $40, it is a reasonably-priced beginner’s running shoe. Even one guy who complained about the durability was happy with the comfort. Overall, 89% of the reviews the shoe received gave it a 4 and up. So, it looks to me like a good bet.
Best Woman’s Running Shoe for Beginners: ASICS Venture 5
The women’s version of these ASICS shoes received similar reviews as the men’s. Overall, we still see a 4.5/5 stars with over 2,500 reviews. Of those reviews, 66% are 5 star reviews. One woman praised the shoe for help with her plantar fasciitis, citing the shoe’s support and beautiful design. Another loved the toe space, comfort, and the fact that it doesn’t cake in mud/dirt. All very positive features as she uses these ASICS to run trails.
However, not everyone had a remarkable experience. Cons include one woman who actually believed these shoes are not for running. She explained that the arch support was subpar and caused her to have shin splints. Others didn’t believe the shoes were not very comfortable, specifically the toe box and the shoe being too narrow. That said, 85% of the rating for this shoe come in at 4 stars or more and it starts at $40. It could be worth a try for you.
What I Wear: Men’s Brooks Transcend
I can’t tell you how much I love these shoes by Brooks. I used these shoes to train and run for the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon and logged hundreds of miles training for that race. Actually, I purchased a second pair of these as race day drew closer. I wanted to make sure I had enough support. These shoes are incredibly durable.
From what I remember, they were immediately comfortable and helped alleviate much of my pain from shin splints. They have 4.2/5 stars on Amazon. The reason I didn’t have them as the top running shoe for men despite my love for them is because they start at $110.
Personally, if you’re just starting and training for a 5K, I don’t want you spending a lot of money on shoes. These are affiliate links, so I do make a portion on the sale if you buy from them. But, I am not telling you to drop a ton of money on your first pair of running shoes. Since this is also a personal finance blog, I would be irresponsible to tell you to do so. That said, Brooks really does make quality running shoes for men and women.
Best Pair of Running Socks for Men & Women: Feetures! High Performance Socks
These socks by Feetures! are incredible. First off, when running, the last thing you want are socks that lose their integrity / shape and become too loose. When that happens, the sock becomes uncomfortable, especially when you tighten your shoes. Plus, the sock will oftentimes fall down in the shoe and that’s the last thing you want when you’re trying to concentrate on your mileage.
The Feetures! socks are very comfortable and fit tightly against your foot. But, not in an uncomfortable way, more like “form fitting”. This makes it so you don’t have to worry about the sock stretching out and losing its integrity. Furthermore, they wick away moisture to keep you feet cool and dry. My wife and I love them so much that we wear them even when we’re not working out. They are comfortable enough for every day use. I highly recommend Feetures! socks. You will not be sorry.
Best Selling Headphones: TaoTronics Bluetooth Wireless Earphones
Ok, seriously, these TaoTronics headphones are a great deal. They are only $26. And, yes, they are marketed as the Top Seller for Bike Headsets, but runners can use them as well. One reviewer explained how he runs between 3 and 10 miles per week, 3 times per week. He cites how the blades fit in his ears and don’t move around. Trust me, the last thing you want as a runner is to have the headphones constantly popping out.
Overall, 87% of the reviews for these TaoTronics headphones come in at 4 stars or more. But, of course, not everyone loves them. In fact, for what the runner above says are a plus, another person cited how the headphones don’t fit in the ear well. Go figure.
To be honest, with a lot of running gear as with anything, it comes down to the person. It comes down to individual preferences. What works for me or for you, will not work for other runners. You have to find what works best for you.
What I Wear: Mailiya Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
I purchased my Mailiya headphones after another pair of Bluetooth headphones suddenly stopped working. So far, I have little to complain about when these. They fit fairly comfortably in my ear with great sound. However, the loop part that goes over my ear can get annoying. I sometimes find that the ear buds fall out and I’m constantly re-adjusting them.
Overall, I do like the Mailiya headphones. I’m not the type to drop $100 to $250 on incredibly expensive pairs of sunglasses or headphones. That’s just not my style. Plus, I think Anna would kill me. After all, this is a personal finance site too! I really like the fact that these headphones are water resistant. It helps me because I sweat a lot! These are fine for beginners too and have a good volume range to go with great sound quality.
Running Watches & Wearable Tech
Top Running Watches: Casio W800H-1AV Classic Sport
This particular Casio watch is #1 in Men’s Sports Watches on Amazon. It comes in at 4.5/5 stars with over 2,000 reviews. Now, I used to wear a Nike watch when I ran. But, after it died, I went the cell phone and armband route. It’s worked for me ever since. I ran the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon and 3 half marathons between 2015-2016 that way.
So, I didn’t miss the watch. That said, if don’t want all that stuff on your arm, go with a cheap watch to start. This one is less than $13. You can’t really beat that. Let’s be honest, though, cheaper things have a tendency to be made, well, cheaply. So, people do mention that in the reviews. But, 74% of the reviews for this watch are 5 star and 16% are 4 star. That’s a lot of happy people. If you want to go with a watch and you’re a beginning runner, start here. Save yourself some money.
Handheld GPS Unit: Garmin vívoactive Black
So, this thing seems pretty cool and it’s the top seller on Amazon in the Handheld GPS Unit category. It has 4/5 stars and over 1,900 reviews. Garmin vívoactive comes with Sports apps for Running, Biking, Swimming, Golfing, and Walking. Many people seem to love it and gave it some pretty good reviews. However, it’s $136. Certainly a lot to lay out for a watch.
So, it’s unfortunate to see that people had issues with the technology, particularly sync problems, screen dimness, charging failures, and not being able to use when swimming. How can you track swimming but not submerge it in water? Overall, the Garmin vívoactive received 55% 5-star ratings and 18% 4-star ratings. Not bad, but not overwhelmingly great either.
Cell Phone Armbands
Best Selling Armband: Tribe AB37 Water Resistant Sports Armband
I’ll be honest with you. I wouldn’t worry too much about cell phone armbands. Find one that fits the phone you have and be done. They are all pretty much the same. This one here is a Best Seller on Amazon. It has 4.5/5 stars and over 10,500 reviews. Plus, it’s on sale right now for under $10. One person complained about the armband sliding up and down their and the plastic getting foggy. Honestly, the same thing happens with mine. Many of the newer phones are water resistant anyway. So, it shouldn’t be a problem. Another person said this armband didn’t fit iPhone 6S despite it being advertised. Overall, the armband got reviews of 4 or above 85% of the time.
What I Wear: Iwotou Armband for Samsung Galaxy
Yes, I still have a Samsung Galaxy S5. As I said above, I do run into the armband slipping down my arm and the plastic fogging up. But, you just need to tighten it a bit more. It’s usually no big deal. As for the moisture on the inside of the plastic, it’s from me sweating. It doesn’t hurt the phone as the phone is more or less water resistant. I’ll say that it’s a good product.
If you run long enough, you will get a ton of t-shirts and swag from races. Don’t toss them. Use the heck out of those shirts. As runners, we go through lots of shirts. Have mostly cheap ones, but invest in a few nice sweat resistant ones. You will be glad you did!
I don’t get too fancy with running shorts. Hell, I even get stuff at Walmart. I could care less. Plus, I ran track and cross country in high school. I will never be caught dead in that underwear they call running shorts. No thank you. Nobody needs to see my milky white thighs. OK, TMI. Sorry for that.
I personally own Nike and Under Armor winter gear, particular wind breakers, running pants, sweat pants, and gloves. You could always start out and go “Rocky” style in the beginning. Nothing wrong with a cheap hoodie and sweat pants combo.
Please don’t feel like you need to purchase everything on this page to begin your running career. In fact, I am telling you right now not to break the bank as a beginning runner. I truly don’t want you to do that. Get the essentials. To me, that’s a good pair of running shoes and good socks. You want your feet to be comfortable during these runs and you don’t want cheap socks that slide around and don’t absorb sweat. That’s how you get blisters. So, take my advice and get out there! Happy trails!