Handy bits of kit for runners

Handy bits of kit for runners

The health benefits of jogging are no mystery, with regular exercise known to improve both your mental and physical wellbeing. With this in mind, why not look at ways that you can make equipment work for you to ensure that you stick to your running schedule?

Lighter evenings and better weather mean that outdoor fitness activities are much more enjoyable and if you have a new spring in your step after the wet winter, now is the right time to get jogging. Even those who are already up and running regularly may discover a renewed enthusiasm for their hobby by investing in some new kit, available at a range of prices to suit every budget.

The tips below are just a few of the ways that exercise can be made more fun, effective and even enjoyable.

Start from the ground up

Before you think about advanced gadgets and kit for jogging, make sure you take the time to invest in the basics so that you are comfortable and appropriately dressed.

A good pair of shoes is rule number one. Running is a pastime that can put a lot of strain on your feet, so caring for them is one of the best ways to really get the most out of this form of exercise. Blisters and aching pressure points really won't do. When purchasing a pair of running shoes, it is key to consider what kind of feet you have - that is, the shape of them and how you run - as some people will proportion more weight on different parts.

For example, those with low arches will benefit from footwear that has been designed with stability in mind. Long distance or cross-country runners may be most concerned about durability performance, as their shoes may be put more through their paces more than those of an individual going for a quick jog around their neighbourhood once or twice a week.

It is vital that you purchase footwear that has been specifically created for jogging, as it will have been designed to effectively absorb the impact of the activity on the body.

For those who go running more often, it may be worth investing in more than one pair, as a study published last year by researchers in Luxembourg found that rotating running shoes could help to reduce the risk of injury. Over 22 weeks, those runners out of the 264 analysed who regularly switched over their footwear were found to have a 39 per cent lower chance of harming themselves while being active. The experts suggested that with many running injuries caused by repetition and stress, rotating shoes could prevent the same strains being placed on the body as regularly.

There is plenty of information available online for those with specialist needs when it comes to running shoes, while any good sports shop should be able to help guide you towards the perfect pair. Some even offer the option of having a consultation, during which an expert will examine the shape of your feet and your running style in order to recommend the most appropriate trainers.

The dos and don'ts of running clothing

One of the first rules when it comes to running clothing is to wear what is appropriate for the weather conditions! Too much bulky gear in warm weather or too little when it is cold can make for a miserable experience.

Technical fabrics now provide additional comfort by taking sweat away from the body both to ensure you stay dry and to prevent chafing. Cotton carries a risk of becoming damp and can chafe against the skin, so it is a good idea to keep it away from direct contact with the body when jogging.

Loose clothing in summer and layers in winter that can be removed if you get too hot can help to maintain the optimum temperature while on the move, while lightweight waterproof items are essential for wet conditions.

For women, a good sports bra is an essential investment, as it provides comfort and support. Straps should be wide and adjustable and the bra should fit well to maximise its effectiveness, with some offering side panels and padded straps to enhance comfort.

A study by experts from the University of Portsmouth and St Mary's University College, London discovered that one in three out of 1,285 female marathon runners reported experiencing breast pain, while those with larger breasts were most likely to feel discomfort when jogging.

Technology can be your running friend

Lots of runners like to listen to music when they are on the go and there are numerous mp3 players, smartphones and other devices on the market that can provide a soundtrack to your jog.

Why not invest in a stylish pouch or armband to carry your device in, with a range of options available that make gadgets both comfortable to wear and easy to adjust on the move?

The right headphones can also boost your audio experience, with versions designed for runners that stay in place more readily while you jog. Others also ensure you can hear what is going on around you as well as your favourite bands - particularly handy for road runners who must be able to listen out for approaching vehicles.

Music has even been found to improve performance when exercising by increasing stamina. Expert Dr Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University's School of Sport and Education, London claims: "Music is like is a legal drug for athletes. It can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 per cent."

For those with smartphones, the range of running apps is vast and many companies offer free resources for runners and other excellent programs available for small amounts of money. For instance, measuring running statistics is a favourite pastime for many and there are lots of apps that enable you to compare your achievements with other people via social media, providing a great motivational tool and making you part of an online running community.

Other apps track factors such as distance or pacing, help with planning routes, provide digital personal training or even sync music to the beat of your running. Smartwatches that are packed with features such as heart rate monitors, GPS and even coaching software can be very helpful when charting progress for dedicated joggers, while even basic step counters can provide a cheap way of recording your progress.

Safety first

While you may have any number of motivations for pounding tarmac, it is vital that you are always safe and looking after yourself as you progress through your exercise programme.

Good hydration while running is essential and taking water along with you can ensure you get the best out of your exercise. Water bottles come in a dizzying array of shapes and sizes, with many now contoured and designed to be comfortable to carry while you jog.Hydration packs in the form of backpacks with pouches inside for water provide a means of carrying your supply easily, while leaving room for other items such as mp3 players, keys, first aid supplies, nutrition bars and additional clothes.

Fluorescent and reflective bands and clothing offer vital protection for joggers who venture out after dark, ensuring they can be seen by motorists. Light-coloured clothing will also help you to be more visible and headlamps can be a great investment in unlit areas.

Finally, in case of emergency, make sure you carry a piece of identification with you or splash out on an ID tag. This features vital information and can also include medical details that could help in a crisis. It is also advised that you always let somebody know where you are running, what route you will be taking and how long you expect to be, so that should anything happen to you and you are alone, help will be on its way as soon as possible.

Other gear that may assist your running…

Individuals who are becoming more adventurous about their running may wish to spend some cash on navigation aids and maps in order to expand their horizons. Some smartphones have compasses inbuilt, while GPS devices, mapping software, map measurers and magnifiers are all used by runners who venture beyond well-known routes.

If you have all the gear outlined here and are looking for new running accessories, why not consider gloves, hats, laces, nutrition belts and running weights as options?

In the future, running shoes that monitor and measure an array of factors, including pace, heart rate and breathing are in development and could soon be added to your jogging wishlist!

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