I’ve been working through my ‘ultimate running kit essentials’ in my head up for a while now, so I wanted to jot it all down and share it with you. As I like to share much of my running and training on Instagram, I get a lot of questions about the my favourite running trainers, the best leggings that don’t fall down, and whether the Apple Watch is worth it, so I figured it would be helpful to dump it all down in one handy blog post — and if you’ve got any other Qs, of course you can just message me. I’ve been running for about 6 years now. Despite the fact I’ve done a few marathons and bang on about running quite a bit, I’m actually a VERY casual runner. I’m not all that good at training for races, I’ve done half marathons hungover, and I really, really don’t like running fast. I do however enjoy running and for me that’s the most important thing. And I really do think the difference between a good run and a bad run (even if it’s just a short lap of the park) can often be down to comfort, and much of that comes down to kit. So if it’s cool with you, I’ll just jump straight into my tried-and-tested running essentials. The ones that if I don’t have, I don’t go running!
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I can’t bear running without headphones. Unless I’m running with someone or as part of a group, I always wear headphones to run. Over the years, I have tried PLENTY and trust me, there are loads and loads of bad ones. The very best running headphones in my opinion are the POWERBEATS PRO. They’re amazing. They don’t slip at all (even in marathons when I’ve poured a bottle of water over my head to cool me down, they don’t wriggle), they automatically pause when you take one earphone out, and they have a microphone so you can wear them for taking calls too. They fit so snuggly and wrap around the back of your ear so they feel proper tucked in place, and the sound is great — and I like my music LOUD. The battery lasts ages (plus they charge themselves up in their case so last even longer between plugged-in charges), they’re totally rain-proof, and they connect seamlessly with iPhones. I’ve tried a few in the Powerbeats series and to be honest, they’re all very good, but I think the Powerbeats Pro have the best battery. The other headphones you’ll very often see me running in are the BOSE QC35 II. Now, these are my favourite headphones of all time but I should point out, they’re not really made for running and I don’t think they’ll appreciate me calling them out as ‘running headphones’ per se. These are AMAZING headphones and they do work so well for running as they don’t move and they’re so loud, but (and it’s a big but!) they aren’t really sweat or rain resistant and I have broken a pair in the past from running… They’re GREAT headphones though.
So the question I get asked most is which running trainers do I recommend. And before I answer, I want to say everyone’s trainer preferences are SO different because we all have very different feet and running styles, so it’s important if you’re planning on running quite seriously or far to get your gait checked and have an expert point you in the right direction. With that disclaimer out the way, the running trainers I personally swear by are ADIDAS ULTRABOOST. I’ve worn them for years, for everything from 2km runs around the park, to quick treadmill sessions, and all of my marathons and training, and I rate them very highly. I’m not going to go into all of the technical details as you can read about those on the adidas website (it gets complicated), but ultimately it’s all about the extra springy, lightweight Boost sole, and the support you get from the frame of the shoe. I’ve had hip issues and shin splints before from running in the wrong shoes, and others just feel so damn heavy on your feet, so without doubt, the Ultraboost are my go-tos. For something slightly cheaper but also lightweight I also really rate the NEW BALANCE FUEL CELL ECHO shoes.
There is nothing worse than leggings that fall down. It’s JUST ANNOYING. My advice for leggings, as it is for all fit-kit (and clothes generally), is buy well, buy less. Do not buy 8 pairs of leggings. Invest in one or two really good pairs that fit well, make you feel good, and launder really well. There are lots of great brands, but the best of the bunch in my opinion are Lululemon leggings. I have the LULULEMON ALIGN HIGH RISE 28”, and they’re perfect in every way. They’re so soft, smooth and comfortable they feel like a second skin, they’re really flattering, keep you warm but not too warm, don’t have any random pockets or strange zips, and most importantly, they DO NOT fall down. At all. They’re perfect running leggings in my opinion, and worth investing in (I know, I know, they are very expensive). When the weather permits, I do prefer running in shorts. I love that feeling of freedom! For max comfort, they probably want to sit as high as your tummy button. LNDR do great shorts (they fit so good), and I’ve had some great adidas by Stella McCartney ones too.
I’m going to do another post all about it as I get asked a lot of Qs but my running watch is an APPLE WATCH SERIES 5 and YES, I absolutely love it. I’ve tried a Garmin before, and a Fitbit back in the day, and used to just track my runs on the Nike Running app on my phone, but the Apple Watch is, for me, a game changer. I should point out here I have mine on a long-term loan from Apple (thanks Apple!) but Ed bought his years ago and swears by it too, and I know lots of runners who use them. I want to do a full post with features and break down why I love it, but basically: I’d never wear a Garmin as my normal watch, so it always ended up at the bottom of my rucksack unless I was going for a run, so I’d need to remember to bring it, charge it, etc, and it was just hassle. I wear my Apple Watch all the time. I know some people think it’s a bit too ‘gadgety’ for a watch which yes, it is, but once you have one, you don’t go back. For running it’s great because it tracks loads of stats including distance (in miles or km), time, heart rate and calories. It calculates your splits, automatically tracks and maps your route (cool feature if you’re doing bucket-list run routes or races), and you can easily set up pace alerts (it will buzz if you’re going too slow/ fast) and calorie/distance goals. Finally, it helps you stay focused on your run. You can keep your phone in your belt/ rucksack, and change songs, volume, and check messages from your wrist. I love it for all kinds of exercise, and it keeps me motivated by tracking my daily move goal. I’ll do a full post on the Apple Watch soon, but honestly once you have one, you can’t go back!
Now sports bras are trickier because everyone’s bodies and requirements are sooooo different, so I can only really speak for myself and what I’ve tried. As I have next to nothing in the chest area, support isn’t something I really need to put too much thought into! I only really wear LNDR SPORTS BRAS and love them. I love the fit — they’re so flattering, and as they’re quite long-line you don’t feel too naked if it’s too hot (you’re too hot) to wear a t-shirt. The knitted fabrics they use are also thick enough that they don’t use padding but there’s no nipple exposure. Ideal. I genuinely recommend them to everyone. Other brands I rate are OUTDOOR VOICES and LULULEMON.
Finally, onto the little details. Get yourself a running belt or arm band for your keys and phone. Up until last year, it used to blow my MIND that Ed would go running with his keys jangling in his pocket and his phone clutched in his hand. Honestly, mental. It makes things so much more uncomfortable and if you’re struggling on a run, the last thing you need to want is a brick in your hand to have to run with!? Lots of people use armbands for their phones. I personally find them a bit annoying/ they slip down, so would recommend a little running belt. I have this FITLETIC BELT, which is perfect. It sits super comfortably, doesn’t bounce around and easily holds your phone and keys. I often run to/from work and swear by this DEUTER SPEED LITE RUCKSACK for when you need to run with ‘stuff’ — it doesn’t bounce, doesn’t chaff, and is big enough to store a change of clothes, a wallet etc. Lastly, running socks. They aren’t so important for casual runs or quick laps of the park, but if you’re running longer distances or marathon training, get yourself some STANCE SOCKS to avoid dreaded blisters.
* THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. FOR FULL TRANSPARENCY, MY APPLE WATCH IS ON LONG-TERM LOAN FROM APPLE BUT ALL OPINIONS ARE ARE VERY MUCH MY OWN