The recommendations on this page could be termed as useful extras but are they essential running gear? While some may class a decent pair of trail running shoes as essential kit (and we don’t disagree), if you are an ultra runner or keen trail runner, there are probably a long list of things that you don’t run without. Let’s face it, we don’t expect to lose a toenail or get chaffing until it actually happens and chaffing can make for a pretty miserable and painful run, even with the most tried and tested shoes.
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links which may provide a small commission to me at no cost to you. The products we recommend are either those that we’ve used or that our fellow runners have used.
As a combo of male and female runners, we can identify with both genders and the potential issues that you might face. Ladies, the wrong shorts will cause chaffing, a sports bra on a hot, stick day is going to cause some issues and gents, do we even need to mention nipple rub? You are more than likely going to get bruised toenails either from the repetition of running or stubbing your toe on a rock.
When I used to road run, anything over a half marathon and I was losing the large toenails that season. Now, I tend to lose them from stubbing them! Anyway, let’s share with you some of the miracle products classed as essential running gear in our kit bags to help you with those “running embarrassments” and help you find the solutions to the problems that you might be yet to face.
Silicone Toe Caps
They look like awkward clumsy condoms and you will get some strange looks pulling them out of your backpack but hey, they work. Sold in multi-packs these are an absolute god send. Having worn them for long training runs we can highly endorse these. If you want to keep your toenails then we suggest you buy yourself some.
You won’t be the only ones wearing them – ballet dancers also wear them when they go up on pointe. Trust me, they are worth a try.
Many runners swear by vaseline but we prefer Bodyglide as it tends to have a bit more longevity to it. It’s also much easier to apply. It comes in a roll on tube either in a standard size or a mini version, which is ideal for keeping with you on your run. Apply liberally between the thighs, under the band of your sports bra or on your nipples. Honestly, get yourself some… you will thank us for it, especially at mile 20-30 when it’s one less thing you have to worry about.
It gets cold out there and there are going to be occasions when you need to climb over a stile, move a bramble, touch a nettle or climb up a rocky path. A pair of running gloves will save you getting white fingers, stop you getting splinters and thorns and keep your hands warm. There are many gloves to choose from. Some prefer being able to use their phone with them on, in which case, a pair like this is ideal. You don’t need to spend a fortune and we recommend you get a spare pair. One of the most regular things to come out of my mouth, on cold days, when looking for my kit before a run is “I can’t find a glove”. I now tend to keep a pair in the house and in the car and they are definitely part of my essential running gear from October through March.
Whether or not you choose to run with a hydration vest, I am a big fan of running with a belt as well. I like to have my phone close at hand for checking routes, taking calls from the kids when I am out on a training run and for taking photos when the situation arises. I have tried many belts. Some slip, some are just bulky and some just don’t do the job. The beauty of these particular belts is that they keep everything secure and close to you. You don’t panic that you are going to lose your keys or something is going to fall out. Its snug to your body rather than bouncing around all over the place as you run. I use mine for my phone, a debit card and/or some cash. You can also carry a gel or a snack too and if you aren’t doing big miles, it’s great for carrying your essentials.
These are often given out at the end of races as an alternative to t-shirts so we have collected a few over the years but if you don’t happen to have one (there has been a serious lack of races recently), then you can get your hands on a running buff for less than a tenner. A running buff is a great extra to have in your kit bag and serves a multitude of functions. Used as a gaitor to keep your neck warm, a headband to keep your hair of your face or to keep your ears warm, they are a handy addition to the trail runners kit. Personally, I always have one wrapped around my wrist just in case. Sometimes it makes it to my head to serve as buffer in the wind but often it sits on my wrist and becomes a substitute handkerchief when the cold, icy weather is making my nose run (sorry).
Not sure about you but gels make me wince these days. The texture, the taste and the mess they leave, not to mention the empty packet being shoved back into your backpack. Shot Bloks were a great discovery. Now I just pop a packet in my belt or backpack or take out a couple and wrap them in cling film and keep them for emergencies. They are great for an extra hit of energy when you need it most. Be careful which ones you choose. The Black Cherry ones have caffeine in so we prefer the Strawberry which don’t and are designed for consumption during your run.
Well, we aren’t going to start recommending a specific brand of banana but we highly recommend you have one straight after your run. A bottle of water and a banana are our go to recovery fuel. There is a science behind what you should eat in the short window after your run in which it is best to refuel but we alway find a banana and water within 15 minutes of finishing our run does the job.
We will cover nutrition (specifically what to eat on long runs) in further detail and the best things to eat on your run in another section but for now this is part of our essential running gear.