Running is such a romantic sport. Just you and the trail, with nothing but your legs and guts to keep you moving forward through the pain.

For most people, the romance with running is all about simplicity. We dream of runs high in the mountains or on beautiful open roads, without the clutter and noise that fill our lives when we’re not running.

It requires no bats or balls, helmets or skis, or thousand dollar bikes. Just a pair of shoes and shorts. And even those are debatable.

It’s beautiful, really.

But let’s face it. If all any of us had was a pair of beat up running shoes and cotton shorts, we probably wouldn’t ever actually go out and run. Or at least not very far.

Running gear helps us run better and stronger, and is a requirement if we want to train at our best.

3 Reasons Why Quality Gear is Important for Runners

1) Quality Gear Prevents Injuries

It doesn’t matter how smart you’re training or how good your form looks, if you’re using bad gear, you will get injured.

A friend of mine came up to me recently complaining about shin splints. He just started running after several years off, and almost immediately had issues.

We talked about their progression and training, and everything sounded solid. Finally I asked about his shoes.

It turns out the guy had been running in 4 year old shoes that he’s been wearing as everyday kicks. That was the real issue causing injury, not his training.

Here are a few examples of how quality gear can make a difference:

  • Proper running shoes (and replacing them after an appropriate amount of miles) make a major difference in your ability to increase mileage and stay healthy
  • Self massage and strength training tools help you recover and prevent future injuries
  • Proper clothing and socks reduce chafing and blister issues

2) Quality Gear Keeps You Comfortable

One of the biggest challenges runners face is motivation, and when the weather is particularly extreme, that motivation is known to take a nose dive.

This is never more true than right now, while we’re in the icy grip of winter. Do you want to run when your weather app reads 34 and freezing rain? Hell no.

Here’s where the gear comes in. A good running jacket, hat, pair of socks, or tights can be the difference between dreading a run before it begins, and looking forward to the crisp air in your lungs.

During the summer, proper gear will help to keep you cool and refreshed.

Being comfortable not only means that you’re more likely to run in the first place, it also means that you’re more driven to keep pushing further and harder once you get out there.

3) Quality Gear Keeps You Safe

Trail runners in particular face obstacles and challenges that can be dangerous. Preparing ahead of time with proper gear helps to eliminate those safety issues:

  • Packs, belts, and bottles will carry the water and nutrition needed for big runs
  • Drastic and quick weather changes can be managed with proper layers
  • Maps, guides, and GPS watches help with navigation

The romantic imagery of minimalist running disappears as soon as something turns sour. Having limited but necessary gear eliminates those worries.

The Problem With All This Gear

Let’s face it, there are a ton of gear options out there. Nowadays you can get just about anything and spend thousands of dollars. And unfortunately, most of it is junk.

Junk shoes, junk clothes, junk bottles. Junk you can’t even figure out what to do with.

And due to good marketing triggering strong curiosity, too often we find ourselves buying that junk only to regret it a few runs later.

Buying junk instead of quality gear is not only a blow to the wallet, but could lead to injury or other safety issues. So how do you know what is worth your time and money?

The Trail Runner’s Gear List

3d-cover-dAfter wasting more money than I’d like to disclose (my wife does read my blog, after all), and more time testing products than I’m proud of, I decided enough was enough. Runners need a simple guide to the gear they actually need and none of the crap they don’t. An unbiased point of reference, with no influence from marketers.

So I decided to create one.

I put together an eBook with a complete gear list of all the essential items trail runners need, and strategically left out all the junk.

To make things even easier, with each item (such as handheld bottle for example), I’ve included a list of brands you can trust. Sometimes what works best for me might not be best for you, so I felt it was important to not only include the actual items, but the brands you can believe in as well.

And the eBook is completely free.

You can pick up a copy of The Trail Runner’s Gear List here:

Get It Free - Button OrangeIf you’re already signed up for something through Rock Creek Runner (like the Trail Runner’s Cheat Sheet), just check your email, I already sent it over.

Go out and make the smart gear choices that will help keep you safe, comfortable, and injury free.

Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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