While the life-changing benefits of jogging and running can be enjoyed for free, having the right kit is essential for maximum comfort and results. Thinking of starting pounding the streets? Arm yourself with the following essentials to increase support and comfort whilst reducing the risk of injury.
A well-chosen pair of running shoes will keep the body in the best position, support the ankle and cushion the feet as they pound the pavements. ‘Running without appropriate footwear can be damaging to the body’, explains Mike O’Neill, from The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists, and may cause issues ranging from blisters and traumatised toes to seriously damaged joints and back pain, putting you off running before you’ve even had time to reap the benefits.
Running style can influence the type of shoe required; for example, heavy runners will benefit from the maximum support and high levels of comfort offered by motion control shoes. The lighter racing shoes are perfect for taking part in marathons, giving runners the edge on the day. Exercise location will also impact on the required features of the shoe; rocky trails will require shoes with firm grip and stability, whereas road running will be lighter and have more cushioning.
Many decent running shops offer a 30-day warranty for you to return and swap them - even if you’ve been out for a run in them. Happy feet equals happy customers! Runner’s World explains that there are three types of foot types: normal, flat foot and high arch. Some places will also have a treadmill inside for gait assessment to establish the best pair of shoes for you.
A fitness gadget is almost necessary now, and with technology advancing fast, most sports bands and running watches now feature GPS, to see where you run, as well as the usual calories burnt, mileage, pace and time. Choosing one from the vast range can be rather daunting. Nike+ have a range of accessories, from their Nike+ sports band at £40, to their sports watch with TomTom GPS selling from £129 (nike.com). Both of these feature a USB stick within the band, which is easy to plug into you computer, upload your data to review your progress online, and charge the battery. Adidas have their MiCoach technology which works in a similar way, both require putting a chip under the sole of one trainer, which transmits wirelessly to your watch, band, or iPod app (the new iPod Nanos come with Nike+ app already installed). Garmin have also released their Forerunner watch, with prices around £108 (wiggle.co.uk) which gathers your running data solely from it’s GPS system, and doesn’t require specific shoes or a footpod.
Finding your Breast Friend
For all the ladies out there, it cannot be stressed how crucial a decent sports bra is when you exercise. Ladies running without a sports bra face the prospect of irreversible breast sag due to damage to the connective breast tissue. A recent study by Portsmouth University found that breasts move in a three dimensional figure of eight while we run, going up and down, in and out and side to side. This uncontrolled movement puts great strain on the breast’s support structure. The research found that each breast moves independently of the body by an average of nine centimetres during each step taken on a treadmill. So while your legs run a metric mile, your breasts bounce up to 135 metres. G cup breasts bounced 14 centimetres per stride or 210 metres per mile and even an A cup moved 4cm with every step.
Your bra should fit snugly under your breasts without feeling too tight. At the same time, however, you should feel that your boobs are firmly held in - and aren’t going to go anywhere! Whatever bust size, there is a sports bra for you, and it is vital that you wear one whether you’re a double A or a triple G.
Shock Absorber have launched a sports bra designed specifically for running – the Run Bra, which is designed to reduce chafing with a soft band, seamfree cups, and covered fastenings. The Run Bra been shown to reduce bounce by 78% and even has reflective strips so if you’re really brave you can run in just your bra. There are other less technical sports bras which offer excellent support as well, so make sure to look after your assets when running.
So you’re all ready and set to start your new hobby. Start off steady - don’t automatically try and run half marathon - but by increasing your mileage slowly and allowing two to three rest days per week soon you’ll be pioneering the running track. You can also download the couch25k app to ease you in with a firm goal in sight.
features writer & lifestyle blogger and avid shoe wearer.