Running is popular all over the world, largely because you need very little to get started. There’s no big or expensive equipment to buy and maintain, you can do it practically anywhere, and it’s open to all fitness levels. The numbers don’t lie – about 1 in 4 Australian adults are heading out for a run or jog, and just under 50% enjoy walking for exercise regularly.
Although going for a run, walk, or jog might not require much equipment, it’s important to make sure that you get the basics right. Proper footwear that suits your foot structure and gait is essential, and wearing proper technical fabrics always makes a workout more comfortable and enjoyable.
You can run in any shoe, but not all shoes were made for running. Don’t try and make do with what you have if it’s not the tool for the job. Dedicated footwear is perhaps the most important piece of equipment you need, and it’s always worth the investment.
Everybody’s feet are different, and there’s a shoe made to fit them all. There’s good evidence that wearing the wrong type of shoe raises your risk of injury, especially relevant as there’s so many different types of running shoes to choose from. Looking for a bargain on the internet won’t help you know that you need extra arch support or motion control, so visit a speciality running store with accredited fitting professionals. You can even make an appointment with a podiatrist, particularly if you’ve got a history of injury.
Keep in mind that your shoes also have a lifespan, measured in kilometres, not months.
A good pair of shoes is undoubtedly the best investment you can make to prevent injury, and some dedicated running clothes are equally as valuable to your own comfort! Technical fabrics might seem like overkill for the beginner, but once you make the switch you won’t go back. There are studies that suggests wearing dedicated running gear may actually inspire and motivate you to exercise more, via a phenomenon known as ‘enclothed cognition’.
Unlike cotton, technical polyester, merino wool, and other performance fabrics are designed to pull the sweat away from your skin. Nobody feels like running with painful chafing in sensitive areas, and dedicated running gear is designed to prevent this. On a cold, windy day, good technical fabrics will also keep you from shivering in a sweat-soaked shirt, plus they’re much less bulky and lighter than polycotton sweaters and hoodies. Leave the old tracksuits to Rocky and 80s Olympians.
There’s plenty of watches, wristbands, and other wearable technology out there that can help you keep track of all sorts of metrics. It can be helpful to measure your heart rate to make sure it’s in the target zone, and many people find running apps helpful for timing themselves, measuring distance, and making their run more fun. There’s no best product though; it’s about finding something that works for you. If it’s encouraging you to get out there and go for a run, it’s worth considering.
Get the inside line
You can have all the shoes, activewear, and technology in the world, but it’s not the best way to make sure you stick to your new running resolution. The correct gear can only take you so far; the best ways to motivate yourself and push harder is by running with other people just like you.
Medibank is proud to partner with parkrun, a non-profit organisation that hosts weekly 5 km running events, all across Australia and the world. Best of all, it’s held early in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday, and it’s 100% free. It’s not about competing with other people – it’s about pushing yourself to be better, one step at a time.
Medibank is also the title sponsor of the Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival, held on the 16th October, 2016. If you’re ready to take the next step up from parkrun, there’s sure to be an event distance that suits you with 3km, 5.7km, 10km, half marathon and marathon events all being held on the day.