Run Accessories for Short and Long Distance Running
Run accessories can be useful items of kit, especially if you are considering running longer distances. Things like running drinks bottles, run belts and a GPS watch can help you achieve your race goal and simply make for a more enjoyable run experience.
Depending on what distance you are choosing to run or race, you may, or may not, require any accessories at all. For example, for a 5km run, you really don’t need to bother about accessories and gadgets, but for something longer such as 10km or half marathon you may want to think about what may be good to take with you on your run.
We have compiled a list of some basic examples of useful race accessories. You don’t need to use them all at once, but knowing you have them at least gives you peace of mind you are equipped for any run distance you choose to go on. Bear in mind it is usually best to minimise what you carry when racing, but at the same time be mindful of what you may actually need.
For shorter distances accessories the only item you may need are gloves and headbands in cold weather or a visor in sunny conditions. For longer distances (10km or more) you may start thinking waist pouches, drinks bottles and gels. Before racing with any accessory, remember use them on training runs – you don’t need the annoyance of irritating kit which could affect performance on race day.
Running Hats, Gloves, Buffs and Headbands
Cold weather essentials are hats, gloves and headbands – definitely worth buying and need not be expensive to be effective. At the very least consider a pair of running gloves. They range in their thickness and weight so even if it is just a light layer covering your hands will feel the benefit of some warmth and protection and be more comfortable. Likewise, you don't want to wear too much, especially when racing, as you will end up carrying more than you need to. However, an ideal solution to this is tuck them into a pocket in your run belt or pouch when you don’t need them. Remember – always throw litter in a local bin or put it back in your pouch and dispose when you are home.
Consider gloves you can keep on while accessing your mobile phone or music device. The tip of the index finger on these gloves is heat-responsive, so your hands can stay warm while you skip to the next tune.
Running Hats can be quite warm so a buff or headband is an alternative – especially if you have lots of hair on your head – maybe you just want to keep your ears warm, so leave the hat for really cold weather, unless you are easily prone to getting cold. Headbands are great for female runners as it helps to keep your hair out of your face.
In warmer weather, when it's sunny, a running cap or visor is well worth getting to keep sun off your face and the glare out your eyes.
Running Belts, Pouches and Bags
Also known as waist bags, running belts and pouches are available in many shapes and sizes and are useful for storing small items like mobile phone, gels and car keys and even spare hair bands. Some runners prefer running without anything attached to them, whilst others are happier to have the things they feel they need on their person.
If you aren’t keen on pouches, you could consider a wrist pocket to carry your gels and keys, and other essentials. Wrist pockets are great for very small items, but not so good if you need to pack several things in. Larger packs or bags are ideal for off road or hill running and racing, where often you may need waterproofs on your person in addition to the gels and drinks you may already be carrying. This sort of size is probably a bit excessive for a road run of 10k, unless you are perhaps doing marathons or ultras.
Whichever category you fit into, there is bound to be a type of pouch that will suit your needs when you just can't avoid carrying your small essentials.
In races, very often runners prefer to carry their own drinks bottle, as they may like to sip as they go as opposed to waiting for the next water station on the race route. Another reason to carry your own water bottle in a race may be you prefer your own energy drink or if the product differs from that being supplied by the race organiser & to avoid single use plastics.
One of the most popular drinks bottles for runners is the little handheld bottle - perfect for carrying in your hand as you run. Other options include bottles with a small pouch so you can take several bottles on your run. Water bottles also come in different shapes and sizes so it will be a good idea to test and try in the shop what grip feels best for you. Bottle belts can combine the need for a waist pouch and carrying a bottle in one accessory.
Hydration packs with built in water compartments (bladders) and a drinking tube to keep hands free are popular on longer runs & may be worth researching.
Armbands and wallets for storing your mobile phone or digital music player are popular amongst runners today. Some runners like using their mobile phones with a tracking app to track their run information, making this a popular run accessory. While it is common for music devices not to be allowed in races due to safety issues, and if this is the case, then it is best sticking to using this accessory for training runs only, unless of course you are using the tracker app on your phone.
Running Watches and Monitors
There are many different types of sports watches available on the market today, from your basic watch with a stop watch function to those with memory for storing interval times to GPS and Heart Rate Monitors. If you are training to targets the latter is probably an investment worth making in order to keep track of your training and racing.
A watch is, however, not essential and some people just prefer running to how they feel without the pressure of being aware of the time, or simply to enjoy being healthy and fit, and in the fresh air.
Not strictly on the traditional accessories list, but will certainly keep you comfortable is
An essential accessory piece to your run kit and advised by many professional and amateur runners is sun screen. If you’re running outside, it is imperative to put SPF on your face. Melanoma and wrinkles are not appreciated by everyone, no matter how in shape you are. When it's sunny outside, a running cap or visor is also well worth considering.
Chafe and Blister Protection
There is nothing much worse when running or racing than to chafe or blister, especially on a longer run. It can be a very uncomfortable and painful 10k or 13 miles. Anti-chafe products are great at preventing this from happening. Example, BodyGlide, you just roll it on the areas where you are likely to chafe (like a deodorant stick) and it creates a protective layer between your clothing and your skin. It is not greasy and causes no discomfort.
Another option for preventing blisters is Compeed Blister Plasters – they expand in response to friction to protect the area.
Also, some runners suggest rubbing a little Vaseline to the inside of the arch of the foot up to and including the base of the big toe. Also, worth doing the tips of the toes and in-between – just a little as you don’t want to feel slippery. Some runners put the Vaseline on the outside of the sock instead and daub a little on the inside of the shoe where the friction is at its worst.
Not necessarily an accessory, and worthy of an article or two on its own, but still worth a small mention. Keeping up your pace, especially on a longer run, can be a challenge, so take along some energy-boosting gels or chews to get you through your training run or to the finish line. Pop them in your running belt or pouch for an easy eat-as-you-run snack - the sugary carbs literally just pick you up. Please take your LITTER with you – don’t drop it!
Post Run: Epsom Salts
After a long run, your feet may feel achier than any other part of your body. So after showering, soak your feet in some relaxing Epsom salts and warm water. The magnesium helps soothe muscle soreness, and some salt even contain menthol which is a proven pain reliever.
Remember, whatever accessories you choose, test them out on your training runs, whether short or long, so you don't have any surprises on your race day. What are your running must haves?