BEGINNER RUNNER: GEAR CHECK
"Running boom" is not only not slowing down, it is actually getting yet another fresh bout of wind in it's sails (for the fiftieth time). And that of course is paralleled by yet another new wave of running related products. We decided to specifically address this topic because there is so much confusing information out there and so many products are unnecessarily recommended.
To any beginner the task of getting the right gear could seem like a daunting challenge these days. So many products, so many brands, so many choices overwhelm our senses and normally we resort to one of the following three actions: 1. We make an "investment" and get all the "right" stuff (which is often just a waste). 2. We don't want the headache and get what everybody else gets (your neighbor, your buddy at the running club, etc). After all - everybody has it, so it must be a safe bet (more to do with good advertising campaign, actually). 3. We decide to think a bit more, i.e. we continuously procrastinate, i.e. don't get any new gear at all (which is not a bad option).
The beauty of the situation is that compared to many other sports, we don't really need anything at all to start learning running! Surprised? Don't be. Running is among the natural human activities.
Good equipment does help, but not to the extent commonly assigned to it. Equipment does not have the power to make you a better athlete, it does however has the potential to assist you, when used in the right manner and with the correct intent.
For example, in swimming, getting the best wetsuit won't help you to swim faster and better, if your swimming is mediocre to begin with. The same in running and anything else - you have to first work on your technique and worry about everything else later. If your running technique sucks
- the most expensive and highly engineered running shoes will not make a difference. If you were to run in U. Bolt's shoes
and he was to run in yours - you most likely wouldn't beat him. Remember the saying? It's not the equipment - it's the operator.
If you're just starting with running, the first thing on your list should be learning how to do it
. For that purpose the list of necessary gear is very short and all the gear is aimed at the learning process.
- Running Shoes. The best running shoe is the one that you can hardly feel on, the one that does not interfere with your perception of your foot on the ground. If practicing barefoot is not an option - get the lightest, thinnest shoes. Forget all the fancy bells and whistles, for that's all they are - bells and whistles that distract you. Inside of those shoes is you and if you don't know how to run, your shoes won't do it for you.
- Stretch Chords. You will need these for some of the running drills and strength exercises. Running is a strenuous activity that requires of you adequate strength to participate and to avoid injury.
- Jump Rope. Jumping rope is one of the best exercises ever. It combines several major benefits that are commonly overlooked strictly because nobody gives it a second thought, because we're so used to see kids doing, so it's viewed as more of a child's game rather than an extremely beneficial cardiovascular, strength conditioning and biomechanical exercises. Jumping rope barefoot will get you to better running form faster than many other approaches that are commonly used.
- Heart monitor. At the beginner stage, this one is optional. It could be a helpful gadget, if you know how to use it. If it's not your thing - don't worry about it. You don't need it, if you just want to enjoy your runs. However if you're planning on training and actually have a goal of running a race or two - get the heart monitor and learn how to use it. If properly used, it could become your trusty training buddy that will always tell you about your wellbeing.
At the beginner level - that's it! That is all you should consider. Everything else is just a lot of unnecessary stuff. Do you really need water belts? Gels? Special watches? Ipods?... If you want them, you can have them. But do you need them? No. As a matter of fact, we don't recommend getting a lot of things that are commonly associated with runners, because they interfere with the "natural work" of your body and they distract you from listening to your body, which is essential during any physical activity and especially running, since it is among sports associated with an extremely high number of injuries.
Article by Dr. Nicholas Romanov
Composed by L. Romanov