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The essentials you need to get on the road.

To get more out of your run, you can’t be bothered by shorts that chafe, shoes that hurt your feet or gear that slows you down. And there’s no one-size-fits-all solution—you need to find gear specific to your physical needs, the climate, the terrain and your personal preferences. As you choose, keep it simple—it’s easy to procrastinate by getting distracted by all your options. The beauty of running and walking is that they’re minimalist in nature. So as you gear up, keep these tips in mind.

Shoes

Shoes are very personal and they become your ultimate training companion. The best strategy is to test run, try, and find a few pairs that work for you and empower your run. Research definitively advises that you select a shoe that protects your foot from the environment. There is an ongoing debate regarding high-stability or impact versus minimal, and there isn’t an easy answer. Recent research suggests you select the most minimal shoe that you can run in safely and without pain during or after your run—and most manufacturers are aligning with that science. It’s recommended that you choose a separate trail-running shoe if you’ll be hitting the hills.

Attire

There is no rule here and only an abundance of choice. Performance running gear is big business, and there are new, amazing options introduced every season. What is a given is that you must protect your body from the elements, and then find your favorite running outfits.  Choose whatever allows you to create a natural running style, comfortable enough to allow you to run at your pace without thinking about what you are wearing or hindering your gait in any way. 

Gadgets

We don’t have to run alone. We have tools to keep us motivated, to track our progress and to entertain us along the way. The baseline gear recommended by most runners is a simple heart-rate monitor, and many swear by the good old-fashioned chest strap for its reliability. If you are a runner who needs music or prefers to run with an audio experience, find a solution to strap your phone onto your body with a pack or armband. Your phone might be light, but gripping it in your hand as you run has serious consequences for the tissues of your shoulder and neck and leads to unnecessary strain. Make sure your headphones are light and do not interfere with your posture or arm swing. 

The Coach in Your Ear

There’s an app to fit every runner and every goal.

By 24Life

On par with a great running buddy, one of the best companions you can have on a run is a smartphone app. There are apps for nearly every purpose, whether you want to know your average pace or need a little extra motivation speaking in your ear. Here are a few of the most popular running apps available:

Google-FitGoogle Fit

What it does: Tracks steps, time, distance, goals, GPS location and calories burned

Available on: Android, Web

Google Fit is a good choice for Android users who want a straightforward, cleanly designed app to track their fitness stats. As long as you’re carrying your phone, the app can automatically detect movement and record activities like walking, running, biking and certain sports throughout your day. Within the Google Fit app, you can set goals and view your progress in charts and graphs, but if you’re looking for a more guided training session, you may want to look elsewhere.


EndomodoEndomondo

What it does: Audio coach feedback, GPS tracking, time, distance, steps and pace

Available on: Android, iPhone, Windows Phone

Endomondo covers the basic fitness-tracking functions with a few neat extras. The app can give you “coach” feedback at every mile or kilometer, letting you know your time and average pace. It also tracks your location with GPS, which can be shared with your friends in real-time.


Zombies-RunZombies, Run!

What it does: A game to keep you entertained and motivated during your run

Available on: Android, iPhone

If you’re the kind of person who gets bored during a run, the Zombies, Run app might be the perfect antidote. It’s an audio-based game in which you’re the main character. You navigate missions by running, either in the gym or outside, and the farther you run, the more you progress along the storyline. There are more than 200 missions to keep you busy, and the app keeps a record of your past runs.


RunkeeperRunkeeper

What it does: GPS tracking, time, distance, steps and pace

Available on: Android, iPhone

Runkeeper offers many of the basic fitness-tracking capabilities as well as more in-depth features like weekly training plans, personalized workouts and challenges. You can connect with other runners from Runkeeper’s huge online community and encourage each other to reach your goals.


StravaStrava

What it does: GPS tracking, social groups, time, distance, steps and pace

Available on: Android, iPhone

Especially popular with cyclists, Strava uses GPS to track your routes, distance and pace. It’s a good choice for runners or cyclists with a competitive streak—you can compete against friends and members of Strava’s online community, join groups and share your victories. Strava also has a feature called Beacon that allows your designated safety contacts to track your route and find you if there’s an emergency.


C25KC25K (Couch to 5K)

What it does: Trains you to go from running at a beginner’s level (the couch) to completing a 5K race

Available on: Android, iPhone

C25K is perfect for people who work out but don’t normally run, or even for those who are completely new to fitness in general. The app features a beginner-friendly, gradual training program that prepares you to run a 5K race over the span of eight weeks. You don’t need to stress about planning your workouts—just follow the instructions the app provides. The developer also offers apps designed to train you for a 10K race and half marathon.

No matter what your goals are, there’s likely an app that can complement your training and keep you focused, motivated and making progress.

Photo credit: sportpoint, Adobe Stock

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