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December 04, 2020

Running is a cheap sport. ‘All you need is a pair of running shoes and you are away’

While that may be true every runner knows it is not the full story! As you move up in distance from 5k to 10k, to half marathon, marathon and into ultras the kit list and the amount you spend goes up and up.

Here are just some of the kit that we runners will have bought …

  • Shoes – several pairs! Road, trail, cushioned, zero drop, good grip etc
  • Socks – basic, cushioned, two-layer, blister free, toe socks etc
  • Shorts / tights – again a whole range of length, style and colours
  • Compression tights/tops
  • Tops – vests, short sleeved, long sleeved, different thickness and material
  • Buffs/hats/balaclavas
  • Gloves/mits – lots of different styles and thicknesses
  • Running vests/packs – again loads of styles and sizes for all needs
  • Watches – from a basic stopwatch to having a computer on your wrist!
  • Waterproofs

I could go on and on and we haven’t even started on multi-day events like the Spine or Dragon’s Back race.

On our ‘Run to the Hills’ YouTube channel we are doing a series called ‘Countdown to the Spine with Stephen Brown’ were we are following Stephen’s training to his 6th Spine race in January. Each episode we discuss a key topic and in the last episode Stephen shared his thoughts about kit.

Link to the series ... 


Stephen divides his kit into two groups

  1. essential kit that if anything went wrong with it, he couldn’t complete the race
  2. compulsory kit that he has to carry but probably won’t use.

Stephen will spend time and money on the essential items and will often have back-ups in case of damage whereas for the second category he will try and buy the cheapest items.

I think that distinction is helpful and for each of us we need to work out what is the key kit that we need to have to be able to complete a race in as much comfort as possible. It is worth spending a bit more on these items as it could make all the difference to finishing a race or not.

For example, I would say my shoes and socks are essential for me to enjoy and be able to complete an ultra. So, I buy the best shoes that suit me. I’m not willing to sacrifice that to buy any pair of shoes because they are in a sale.

An example of compulsory kit that I don’t plan to use is waterproof over trousers. I really don’t like wearing them and in my 51 ultras to date I can count on one hand how many times I have put them on. So, I have bought the cheapest pair I could find that meet the race specifications.

We are all different and you will need to work out what are the essentials for you and once you know that buy the best you can. How often do we buy a cheaper version only to find it doesn’t last or work well and we end up having to spend more money on the item we should have bought in the first place.

With Christmas coming up now is a good time to think about kit. In this week’s ‘Run to the Hills’ episode I interviewed Shelly and Lee who own ‘Let’s Run’ and they gave lots of great advice about kit and ideas for Christmas presents.