One of the many wonderful things about running is its simplicity. You only need a pair of shoes to get started, and with a decent road nearby, you can comfortably run to your heart’s content. No fancy equipment, no court, no pool, no need to learn how to play.
Many people took up running over the past 18 months for this very reason: as gyms and boutique fitness centers closed their doors during COVID, running appealed as a way to stay in shape while spending time outside. Beginner and advanced runners, some solo and some in small groups, logged miles around their neighborhoods, in parks, up and down city streets.
As gyms have reopened and fitness classes restart, some might decide to skip running workouts in favor of spin, rowing, kickboxing, or any of the other sports we missed. But some new runners might decide to stick with it, and as their mileage increases they’ll find that while running remains simple at its core, there is a world of gear that can make longer runs both safer and more comfortable.
Below is a list of accessories that can help make runs more enjoyable year-round:
Running hat: A hat can help protect you from the elements on a hot or rainy day. Running hats are often made from lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric that’s comfortable and keeps sweat, sun, and rain out of your eyes. Typically, any hat crafted with non-cotton fabric such as nylon, polyester, and mesh should be a good option. As temperatures start to drop, a warm running hat can help preserve heat during winter runs. You can also choose a hat that has reflective materials to add a little extra reflectivity to your run for safety.
Running belt: The pocket on your running shorts likely can’t fit your phone, keys, and gels. That’s where a running belt comes in! These elastic belts have a pocket designed to hold essentials while you’re running and can often be adjusted for comfort so the pocket doesn’t bounce as you run. Most are lightweight, like the Original and Large Pocket SPIbelt some, like the SPIbelt Performance Pro, have small loops to hold gels or other nutrition as you run. You can also check out this handy chart to help you pick out the right SPIbelt for your needs.
Running socks: You may spend hours looking for the right running shoe, but what about socks? Running socks made of soft materials and shaped to your foot can make a tremendous difference in keeping your feet cozy and preventing blisters over a number of miles. They come in length ranging from ankle to mid-calf, and maximum cushion to no cushion, so you can see what works best for you. A good pair of running socks will also have a tight feel around the mid-foot and heel, but plenty of room for your toes. Avoid anything made from cotton, which easily absorbs moisture. Instead, choose socks with a blend of synthetic fibers
Hands-free water bottle: Running in the heat can be awful, and it’s not always easy to find water during a long run. A hands-free water bottle can keep you hydrated during warm-weather workouts. These come in a range of sizes and shapes. Some newer models are made of flexible material so they can be tucked in a pocket when empty. We have one that can be clipped onto your SPIbelt for easy access.
Running sunglasses: Sunglasses designed for runners are lightweight, block glare, and have a snug fit so they stay still while you’re in motion. You’ll find them in a range of styles and price points, and it’s easy to find a pair that works for your face shape, color preference, and budget. You want a pair that fits snug against your face but doesn't feel too heavy. The best pair will fit your head and have a total cover frame. Other important things to think about are UV protection, non-slip temple and/or nose grips. If you're a night runner, consider going with a yellow lens. It is the best at improving contrast in low light conditions.
Whether you're a leisurely runner or training for your first marathon, these accessories will have you running like a veteran.