Look out your window the next time you’re having your morning coffee. Would you be surprised to see someone whizzing by in a tank top and shorts? Probably not, and that’s because more than 19 million Americans run at least 100 days a year, with a whopping 50 million Americans estimated to have run at least some point in the past year. (Oh yeah, there’s been an increase in people finishing marathons, too.)
If you’re already out on the trails, or you’re thinking about jogging for health and fun, we’ve got 22 buys that will make your experience all-around better while you wait for the endorphins to kick in.
Stay safe in the sun
I’ve met runners who feel like even the sportiest sunglasses slide down their noses. I’ve also come across joggers who find a hat or even a visor to be too restrictive and sweaty. But you’ve got to have something to protect your eyes from the sun’s glare. Check out the durable Pepper’s Eyewear Crossfire Matte Black Sunglasses ($39.95 at Sears), or go for the superhero look with Radarlock Path shades ($220 at Oakley). (Save $35 off $300 sitewide, and get free shipping on orders over $59 at Sears.)
Pepper’s Eyewear Crossfire Matte Black Sunglasses (left) and Oakley Radarlock Path shades
Saucony Women’s Speed Run Cap ($20 at Dick’s Sporting Goods) and Nike Men’s Mesh Daybreak Running Cap ($24 at Dick’s Sporting Goods) (Use a Dick’s Sporting Goods discount gift card to save) keep sweat out of your eyes with their moisture-wicking materials and have reflective elements to keep you safe at night.
Saucony Women’s Speed Run Cap (left) and Nike Men’s Mesh Daybreak Running Cap
Chafing is no fun, so be sure to pick bottoms that move with you. Female athletes like the flattering GapFit Distance Capris ($49.95 at Gap) (Use a Gap discount gift card to save). They feature compression fabric that will support you on longer runs, a hidden rear pocket to hide a key and reflective print at the leg openings for visibility on early and late runs. For shorts, the Women’s Brooks HVAC Synergy Short ($45.99 at Road Runner Sports) is extremely lightweight and comfortable. Men can pick up Sugoi Men’s Titan Split Running Shorts (on sale for $15.95 at SwimOutlet.com). They have mesh inserts for breathability and UPF 30+. (Get 10% off sitewide and free shipping at Road Runner Sports.)
From left: GapFit Distance Capris, Women’s Brooks HVAC Synergy Short and Sugoi Men’s Titan Split Running Shorts
For tops, the Men’s HeatGear Flyweight Run Singlet ($27.99 at Under Armour) is extremely light and smooth with a mesh back, anti-odor fabric and underarm panels for ventilation. The Women’s Moving Comfort Endurance T-Shirt ($30.93 at REI) is soft and is built to move with you, not constrain you. (Through June 30, get free shipping on all orders over $35 at Under Armour.)
Men’s HeatGear Flyweight Run Singlet (left) and Women’s Moving Comfort Endurance T-Shirt
Stay quick—and comfy—on your feet
Choosing a running sneaker is not easy, so be sure to either get fitted at a store with a knowledgeable staff or order from a shop like Zappos that allows free shipping both ways, so you can try on a bunch to find the right ones for your feet. ASICS GT-2000 for women ($114.95) and Adidas Running Marathon 10 M for men ($85) are both well-reviewed, stylish and available through Zappos. (Enjoy free shipping and free returns at Zappos.)
ASICS GT-2000 running shoes (left) and Adidas Running Marathon 10 M
Toe rubbing ain’t pretty. Many distance runners appreciate the Injinji Performance Lightweight Socks (3-pack for $30 at Zappos), which look weird but feel great. Just be sure to try them on a shorter distance before you wear them at your next half marathon.
Injinji Performance Lightweight Socks
Free your hands with an armband like the Pro-Fit Armband for iPhone 5 ($39.99 at Belkin) or EaseFit Plus for Samsung Galaxy S3 ($24.99 at Belkin). Another good option is The Original SPIbelt ($19.99 at SPIbelt). Worn around the waist, the SPIbelt doesn’t bounce and will expand to hold what you want, be it a smartphone, keys, money or credit cards. (The SPIbelt even stretches to accommodate a passport, making it handy for travel, too.)
From left: Pro-Fit Armband for iPhone 5, EaseFit Plus for Samsung Galaxy S3 and The Original SPIbelt
Don’t go out without your ID and emergency contact information on you. The Wrist ID Sport ($19.99 at Road ID) is engraved with your key detail and can be worn running, swimming or anytime. (Enjoy free shipping at Road ID.)
Wrist ID Sport
If you can’t run without water, try the Combo Pack: One Runner and One Clean Bottle ($34.90 at Clean Bottle), which is a water bottle, smartphone holder and place to store keys, energy bars and more. The bottle can be opened at the top and bottom, so it’s easy to clean. Bonus: Clean Bottle donates 10 percent of profits to eco- and cycling-friendly charities. (Buy three Square Multi Bottles and get one free at Clean Bottle.)
Combo Pack: One Runner and One Clean Bottle
Stay in tune
A common complaint among runners? Headphones not staying in place. Two that rate highly among my friends are the Sennheiser PMX 685i Sports headphones ($79.95 at PeachBudz Online), which are lightweight and designed to stay in place (and even fit under a bicycle helmet) and the Bose SIE2i Sport Headphones ($119.95 at Bose), which have excellent Bose sound and ear tips that don’t fall out during workouts. The Bose headphones even come with a Reebok fitness armband to hold your music player. (Get Bose sales.)
Sennheiser PMX 685i Sports headphones (left) and the Bose SIE2i Sport Headphones
For a new take on lightweight, sweat-resistant headphones, try the AfterShokz Sportz M2 ($69.95 at Eastern Mountain Sports), which have a wraparound headband that keeps them secure during a workout. Cool thing is, AfterShokz offers an open-ear design that fits just in front of the ear and conducts sound using “bone conduction design,” essentially transferring sound through cheekbones to the inner ear. This allows runners to hear their music while being safely aware of traffic. (Get 15% off when you sign up for EMS rewards.)
AfterShokz Sportz M2 headphones
Stay in step
Keep an eye on your progress with the Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker ($59.95 at Drugstore.com), which tracks steps, distance and calories burned. It syncs automatically to your computer or smartphone and helps you set your goals and share and compete with friends. Think of it as a pedometer 2.0 that nudges you to take care of your body. Fitbit users average 43 percent more steps each day than non-Fitbitters. With the incredibly high-tech Garmin Forerunner 610 Touchscreen GPS Watch With Heart Rate Monitor ($399.99 at Amazon), you’ll get insanely accurate readings and tools to motivate you and push you harder … and harder. (Get $10 off orders of $50 or more at Drugstore.com.)
Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker (left) Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS Watch
For good advice on when and what to eat before and after exercising, the Mayo Clinic has got your back.