running gear: my top seven must-haves

One of the reasons I started running is because it’s cheap. Compared to other sports, you really don’t need that much gear. But the more I run, the more I appreciate the few good gear items I need. And here they are.

1. Brooks PureConnects. I’m on my third pair of these babies and couldn’t be more in love. They’re narrow and supportive (for a minimalist shoe), but very light. Plus the shoelaces are sort of wavy to prevent un-tying! I actually just bought my fourth pair, which I’ll break out in the fall — thanks, Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!1-_DSC0723

2. Aerie Fit racerback sports bra. If this sports bra is ever discontinued, I may have to stop running. It’s just the best sports bra I’ve ever worn. Not too bulky, not too high, adjustable straps — and even a little pocket to stash a $10 bill or a key! And the best part: gentle (yet durable) fabric. No chafing and no falling apart in the wash. The one I’m wearing here is black, but they come in a lot of fun colors and prints, too!DSC03195

3. Garmin Forerunner 210. This is the first GPS watch I’ve had, and while it’s not as advanced as some of the other Garmins out there, I think it does a pretty good job. It’s smaller than most big-time Garmins, which I love. It’s only lost satellites (for like a long time during a run) once or twice in the 1.5 years I’ve had it. Rain-proof, sweat-proof, and better than the Nike+ Sportwatch (Kristi agrees!).2-_DSC0728

4. Nike Tempo Track shorts. I wrote a whole post dedicated to my love for these shorts. They are the only running shorts I wear, because they are perfect. Though I would be curious to try out the Lululemon shorts and Oiselle shorts everyone raves about…DSC00846

5. Balega Hidden socks. LOVE these. I don’t like spending $12 on a single pair of socks, but the feel, look, and quality of these is priceless. They hit right below the ankle, but have enough of a grip and back heel tab to prevent sliding down. About six months ago I almost cried when I lost one of these in the laundry — I’m still hanging on to the lonely survivor in hopes that one day I can find his match again. What a tragedy!1-_DSC0720

6. Oakley Overtime sunglasses. I was never a sunglass person, but these have changed my life! Not only are they super cute, but they are extremely practical and sporty. They don’t slide down my nose, don’t fog up, and don’t break. And they don’t look super serious which is important because those really angled sleek sunglasses intimidate me.1016827_515944901813837_1531111736_n

7. Nathan Speed 2 hydration belt. I don’t LOVE carrying around extra weight, but have recently accepted that running dehydrated is dumb. I’ve tried the Camelback Aurora backpack in the past and found it too bulky and too harsh on my skin. The Nathan belt is a lot lighter and gentler.P1010474I just realized that there are seven more items I need to add for winter running. Remind me to do another list in January!

  • Do you love/hate any of the items on this list? Would you add anything?
  • What gear-heavy sport do you love? (e.g., hockey, cycling, golf)
  • Recommendations for running shorts? I love my Nikes but am willing to branch out.

Of interest:



  1. Leah

    I used to have a Garmin 305 that was by far my favorite item of running gear. It was a steal! Only 100 dollars, and now I don’t want to pay more to have it replaced, but you may have just motivated me to do it Mary! I also think I’m going to try those sports bras. There is nothing like putting on an uncomfortable sports bra to make you not want to run.

    • you are the sports bra queen! yeah i love them but probably wouldn’t recommend them for women who need a lot of support, you know? haha. only thing i wish i could change about my garmin is that it would show moving average as well as mile average… but that’s pretty intense so maybe it’s better i don’t have that feature anyway. see ya tomorrow!!!!!!!!!

  2. I always wanted to like the Nike Tempo shorts, but they never fit me right. I got a pair of the Brooks Epiphany shorts and I love them. To me, they are cut similarly to the Tempos, but without the bulk in the legs. I did have to size up from my regular size.

    • I’ve read/heard a lot of ladies complain that the tempos puff out/up too much. I don’t think they do that on me but am curious about what other shorts have to offer. Checking out the Brooks Epiphanys… thanks for the tip!

  3. Michelle

    I also love those socks, my Garmin Forerunner 10, & just recently bought and tried the Nathan Speed 2 belt and my first pair of Nike Tempo shorts (definitely going to buy more!). I also cannot run without a Bondiband to keep the sweat out of my eyes! My current running shoe is the Saucony Cortana. As I train for my first full marathon, I am definitely trying to pay attention to what gear works better for the longer distances as well as whay gear is essential to add!!

    • I have heard good things about the 10! Yeah the longer distances definitely require a bit more gear/fuel than shorter ones, and nagging, low-quality items just don’t hold up as well as nice ones. Good luck with your training!

  4. Love the Garmin 210. I only upgraded to the 910XT because I wanted to be able to swim with it. Very jealous of the non-foggy sunglasses – that’s always my biggest complaint. Since I forked over so much on my watch I’ve been looking for a budget friendly sunglasses option, but haven’t found my match quite yet.

    Fun fact: I was at a marketing research conference recently in Chicago and met the guy who invented the angled water bottle holders that Nathan’s has. From the picture it doesn’t look like you have that model – I think it’s more the one big water bottle belt. I thought that was pretty cool. As a runner he had the insight that it’s a pain to grab those bottles straight up and the angled ones make it easier to grab and he got it put into production!

  5. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    I still have not tried Balega socks but have heard how amazing they are. Thanks for sharing the Crossfit link!

  6. Brynne

    I 100% agree with you on the Garmin 210, it’s my absolute favorite piece of running gear. I would have to say my next essential is my Oiselle Distance Shorts. The Tempos feel heavy to me and too snug around my legs. As for sports bras I always get the Champion ones at Target, and they look really similar to the one you’re wearing in that picture.
    Just ordered two more pairs of Balega socks and I’ve been looking forward to them coming in the mail all week!!! Odd the things I get excited about…

  7. Have you ever had any chaffing issues with the Nike shorts? I’m training for my first half, and my mom asked if I needed special shorts to prevent chaffing. I told her honestly I have no idea because I’ve only run 7 miles so far!

    • No. I roll my waistband once so that puts more of the soft lining material against my lower back. I’ve never had chafing issues with any shorts, though, unlink other people. I get it more around my chest and underarms from bad shirts and bad sports bras!

  8. The more I read about Brooks PureConnects, the more I want to try a pair… Even though Mizuno has stolen my feet’s heart (yes, they have their own heart) :). I do love my Under Armour shorts (not as poofy as the tempo shorts) and Lulu speed shorts. I also have a pair of Old Navy shorts that have held up pretty well for the past couple years, surprisingly. The only sports bras I wear are the Nike Pro Victory or Nike Dri Fit. Plus I don’t have a lot to keep in place, so I can get away with a moderate support bra…

  9. Pingback: 24 tips for runners from David Willey of Runner's World -Chris Abraham

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