On Saturday I achieved what I have set out to do since I began my running journey on my return to the UK, I finally managed to run a parkrun in less than 30 minutes. In 28 minutes and 57 seconds to be exact. And I added an extra 100m to the 5km course somehow…. But what were my running essentials? What helped me get my time down from a much higher 33 minutes 55 seconds starting point? What did I use, as a beginner runner, to improve my fitness level and finally achieve my running goal?
I started my path back to fitness back in late May, taking on my local parkrun where I ran, walked and stumbled my way round the 5km course in a time of 33 minute and 55 seconds. A full 4 minutes and 25 seconds slower than my lifetime personal best.
Since then I have been busy trying to get out and run at least twice a week tackling the parkrun every Saturday, with my first four parkrun times slowly and steadily improving. Along with it so has my running kit, each week seems to have seen the addition of something new. But it seems to be working as I have been getting faster and faster, finally hitting my target on Saturday. But what have I been using in training and running? What are my running essentials?
Before I started running I always just assumed that you put on a pair of trainers and ran out of the door. I’ve never put any thought into what I would need and use, even when I watch the husband smear vaseline on his feet to stop blisters and research extensively into trainers. I just blithely pulled on my trainers and ran, well walked. It obviously showed at 33 minutes and 55 seconds when I had so much more in me to do.
Here is my beginners running essentials list, compiled from what I have learnt on my running journey.
1. A decent pair of trainers
Go out, get your feet analysed, your gait analysed. Your trainers fitting is essential if you don’t want to come home with blistered feet, aching ankles, knees that are screaming at you.
What work for me probably won’t work for you, what works for my husband doesn’t work for me, your trainer choice is as personal as your foot. If you’re looking for more detail then Runners World have produced a basic guide to choosing a shoe. For me, I overpronate and run a bit like Phoebe from Friends.
In the end I’ve plumped for a pair of Brooks Women’s Adrenaline 16, which offers high arch support. And are purple. And pretty.
2. A Running Watch
I always thought you needed to be a real runner to be the owner of a running watch. Even when the FitBit craze and how many steps have you done today hit I still didn’t think it was worth me getting a watch. I borrowed the husbands as and when I ran (infrequently) and liked the idea of keeping track. For the most part I used my phone and that worked fine, if at times a little inaccurately. Then I had chance to review the TomTom Cardio Spark + Music. I haven’t looked back!
From measuring how many steps I do per day, to how much I sleep as well as measuring each run and holding up to 500 songs (though I have 12 on there….) the TomTom is my new favourite toy. Hands down. Replacing the need for me to have an iPod and wires hanging through my clothes pulling on them, while holding an average pace function so I can see how I’m doing against my target, this has revolutionized the way that I run. Even as a beginner runner I thoroughly recommend looking into one.
3. A good sports bra
Enough said really, you don’t want them flying all over the place! I tend to use the crop top sports top and a strap them down method that works for me, but I have been out in my Bravado yoga bra without realizing until I got halfway up the road and I was committed by that point. I didn’t think it would stand up to running but it did!
4. Sports tops
The first sports tops I ever bought, way back when I joined a gym in 2011, were the ones I was still wearing up until 2 months ago when my sporting wardrobe finally got an overhaul. As we are also moving to Qatar I took the chance to change my running style from vest top to t-shirt, and haven’t looked back. After all it was the t-shirt that got me my best ever 5km time.
As with all clothes you end up having a favourite, and right now my favourite is my Sundried Grivola tee. Sundried is an up and coming activewear brand that prides itself on being a premium ethical activewear brand, with each product purchased you receive a unique code which then donates to the charity Water for Kids, my personal donation page can be found here. My favourite thing about this tee, is that it’s not just for when I’m out running I can get away with doing the school run wearing it. From active wear to social wear without looking out of place. Come September I could get ready to go for a run, drop the boys at school in full kit and not look out of place, or like a wally.
Yes, I’ve laughed time and time again at my husband for this, but he’s onto something here. Vaseline is a cheap way of preventing blisters, smearing the stuff across my feet and hey presto, no more blisters.
6. A Goal
For me running for the sake of running just doesn’t work. It was why when I started on my path back to fitness I set myself a goal to run 5km in less than 30 minutes. And not only that but a specific occasion to do so in the parkrun.
And I did. It took me 7 parkruns and countless training sessions to get down below 30 minutes, but everytime I felt like giving up mid run I reminded myself why I was doing this. What it meant to me. What I wanted to achieve. And those feet kept plodding on.
Now I’ve achieved my first goal, I’ve set myself the next. I am planning my next goal which is a 10km race when I hit Doha. And I want to beat my previous time of 1h 02m 04s. I want to come in, in under an hour. Which is what I’ll be reminding myself everytime I feel like walking, or giving up, or not running.
I can do this.
Disclosure; some items in this list have been provided for review purposes. All opinions are my own, as are all goals and improving running times…..You can follow our adventures from the sandpit (and beyond) over on Facebook, see you there!