Running accessories can make or break your run. They can encourage you to run further or faster. They can help prevent injury, make a run more comfortable, or even make running more fun. After spending most of my time running the last few years I’ve weeded through plenty of accessories, including some that were well-reviewed that just didn’t work for me. Here are my favorite best affordable running accessories that I wouldn’t leave home without.
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Good Running Shoes: Brooks Ghost
Shoes are the most fundamental accessory you need for any run. If you don’t have good shoes you are much more likely to get injured. Shoe preference is unique to the person: your style of running and your type of foot strike will decide the best shoe. The best way to find your shoe type is to go to a running store for a gait analysis. After running on a treadmill for a few minutes (they will sometimes record it so you can see) they will identify how your foot falls and the best type of shoe for you.
For me, the Brooks Ghost has been my favorite running shoe for years. It’s the perfect neutral shoe with just the right amount of cushion. Other popular running shoe brands that might work for you could be: Adidas, Hoka, Nike, Asics, Mizuno, New Balance, and more. It’s will take some trial and error trying out different brands and shoe lines. Check your running store for their refund policy, most will allow you to return shoes even after you running in them as long as they are in good condition. I’ve had to do that because sometimes what feels comfortable walking can become painful during long distances.
Injury prone? Consider Insoles
If you are injury-prone or have muscle weaknesses consider insoles. They have made my runs much more comfortable and seem to help to reduce injuries. Currex Insole RunPro have been my insoles of choice, and although they might seem expensive, they last much longer than shoes. Consider consulting a medical professional before trying out new footwear if you are unsure how it might affect you.
Running Watch: Invest in Yourself
In this digital age I sometimes ask myself: if you ran and nothing captured it, did you really run? Having a phone that captures your run is great, but it can be a pain to carry, drain your battery, and you cannot easily see your pace or pause/stop as you go. A smartwatch easily shows your distance, pace, heart rate, and can assist with interval training (if that’s your thing). This can help improve your running and can make running more fun.
For safety, a smartwatch is also extremely important. Both of these watches below have different safety apps (Strava is one example) or features (inherent in Garmin connect) that will track where you are and can notify friends or family that something has happened to you.
Apple Watch (Series 5 or higher)
If you’re in the market for a running watch I recommend two options depending on your budget and needs. If you are into general fitness, have an iPhone, and it’s within your budget, the apple watch is my smartwatch of choice.
The Apple Watch Series 5 is an all-inclusive health tracker and will encourage you to be more active in your daily life. There are so many features and reminders that can improve your overall health and running. Check out my post here for tips on how to use an Apple Watch for Fitness.
The downside of the Apple Watch is that it’s not the most affordable and might not be in everyone’s budget (see my next option for a more affordable runner-friendly watch). While the battery life will last you a full day, the Apple Watch does require charging. The touch screen can have poor performance if you’re sweaty, so I highly recommend getting at least the Series 5. It has an always-on screen, which is perfect if you are planning on using your watch for running.
Garmin Forerunner 35
If you do not have an iPhone or are looking for a more affordable option that is focused on running, I would recommend the Garmin Forerunner 35. It is the most basic watch in the Garmin series that still has a GPS and can measure heart rate.
The display is extremely basic and straightforward but I appreciate this. Since it is not a touch screen, sweaty hands are a non-issue. You can easily program intervals, and the battery life will last days on end.
The only downside is the GPS can be slow to start up and must “find” you before you run. Living in a city with a lot of skyscrapers I’ve found the best way to handle this is putting it in a window facing the sky 5-10 minutes before you run. One other potential downside of this watch is in city areas it can be inaccurate. It also does not have all the app and features of a more advanced watch like wellness reminders, or advanced running metrics of more advanced Garmins.
If you pair the Garmin with apps like Garmin Connect, Strava, or Nike Run Club, it will give you all the basic running metrics you need. It’s definitely a watch to consider if you are looking for an affordable starter running watch.
Carry your belongings easily: Flipbelt
The Flipbelt has been a total game-changer for carrying my belongings with me. As a runner no one wants to run with jingly keys, a bulky cell phone, credit card/cash for emergencies, etc. however to be on the safe side all of these valuables are often needed. Running belts are super popular but I’ve found most of them to bounce or jiggle when you run, which is the last feeling you want when you’re in the zone.
The Flipbelt solves all these problems. It is made from stretchy spandex material to reduce any bounce. There are slots for your valuables and a key loop. I prefer the version with the Flipbelt zipper version for extra security, but the regular Flipbelt should suffice for most needs. You can even carry water in the belt. As long as you size the belt appropriately (I went for a slightly smaller size) you should feel comfortable and will forget the belt is even there.
Looking for more details on the Flipbelt, such as other accessories that it can be paired with it and more tips and tricks? Check out my in-depth review here
Earbuds: Jabra Elite Active 65t
The quest for the perfect earbuds is a common question for many runners. The need for a pair that is sweat-proof, comfortable, and won’t fall out led me to my favorite purchase probably in the last three years, my Jabra Elite Active 65t. These are totally wireless earbuds so you don’t have to worry about bouncing or tangled up wires. They are super comfortable, you don’t even feel like they are there. Although not technically noise-canceling, they fit so snug I’ve found them able to block out most noise. Most importantly, if you insert them properly in your ear they will not fall out. When these die on me as electronics inevitably do, I will be purchasing another pair.
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Make sure to hydrate: bring a running water bottle
It’s so important to stay hydrated when you run, particularly when it is hot or you are running longer than an hour. Since I like to keep my hands free when I run, I’ve looked into hydration belts. The affordable ones I’ve tried have all been clunky and bounce when you run. It’s a terrible feeling. However with the addition of my Flipbelt I’ve found a water bottle solution that has been seamless.
You can buy Flipbelt water bottles or flat belt water bottles and they are perfect for the Flipbelt. They easily slide into the front “pockets” of the belt and are held snugly close to your body so they do not bounce. If it’s hot I recommend adding ice or cold water beforehand. These bottles are perfect for carrying about 11-12 oz with you.
Stay out of the sun: sunglasses or hat
Sunglasses or hats (or both) are important to protect your skin and eyes from the sun. I’m a big advocate for both. Hats not only help block the sun but can help keep hair and sweat manageable. Sunglasses protect your eyes and reduce squinting. Some people hate running in sunglasses but I love it – having the “shield” for my eyes is comforting, particularly during crowded races.
The Breakaway hat from Northface is the perfect running hat. It’s light, breathable, quick-drying, and comfortable. I do almost all my runs in it. Although I sweat a ton I haven’t had an issue with any smell and it really does dry quickly.
Although I don’t have a high standard for running sunglasses I’ve had some issues finding a good pair. My criteria is that they must be stable (not bounce), comfortable, and shield you from glare. My current pair are these polarized sports sunglasses from Rivbos and meet all my needs. I even ran a marathon in them with no issues. Goodr is another popular running sunglass that would be my second choice. They were slightly less comfortable and after a few months they ended up being scratched after I slid them out of a soft Flipbelt. That being said, they do look cool, so it’s worth a try if you’re careful with them.
Do you use any of these running accessories? Found anything you think would be helpful for you next runs? Let me know in the comments!