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So if you don't actually need anything for running, what should you have?
Here are the basics:
1) Running Shoes
Get fitted. Most running specialty stores have folks who know their stuff when it comes to gait and can help you find the right shoe. There are so many types of shoes out there and it's really important to find the shoe that complements your personal running style. Yeah, it might cost you more than a fancy dinner for you and a special friend, but trust me, you don't want to be stuck in a pair of shoes that you hate so much you can't wait to kick them off your feet.
2) Wicking socks
If you're going to get the shoes, then you'll want the socks to go with it. The last thing you want to do is spend a boatload of money of shoes and then run in cotton socks which hold in moisture and rub against your feet, resulting in saucer-sized blisters. Apparently nobody likes seeing your nasty feet covered in blisters, so put a sock on it.
3) Shorts or Pants
Regular ol' running shorts*, competition briefs*, compression shorts*, capris, or tights: take your pick of whatever is comfortable. Fun fact: a lot of us don’t wear undies. SCANDALOUS! It took me the longest time to figure this out though, and then I realized why no one else had panty lines and why no one else had extra chafed areas on the bum...run commando. It’s liberating.
This is optional if you're comfortable running without a top and if you're not at risk for an indecent exposure citation (sorry ladies). Singlet, sports bra, tank, tshirt, long sleeve shirt, hoodie, jacket, and vest are all common choices. Just make sure your shirt is made of wicking fabric (again with the blisters and the chafing!).
I'll confess: I never use this stuff. Do as I say, not as I do. Otherwise your dermatologist will yell at you.
6) Lip balm
I definitely use this! Because when you're parched you'll definitely want some sweet lip balm.
It's totally based on your needs. You may not need to bring along any water, or you may need to haul around a backpack full of water. Be smart, know what you need, and pack accordingly.
Gu, jelly beans, chews, even potato chips. This is a whole post of itself, but be wise about your calorie intake and expenditure.
9) Safety gear
Whatever that means for you - rescue meds, reflective gear and lights, ID, some cash on hand, or your phone for emergencies.
Optional Items (but they're a good idea)
Eh, some people say it's a necessity. I've done plenty of runs without one. It definitely helps to keep the sun off your face, or if it's cold it's nice to have a beanie to keep your ears warm. But then again, if it's at night or if I just don't feel like wearing one then fine, leave the cap at home.
Hey! You know that thing in your hand that you're addicted to? Yeah. You know you can leave it at home while you go for a run? SHOCKING, I know, but you can totally do it! (And my friends wonder why it takes me so long to reply to their texts...oops, sorry!)
3) GPS Watch/Fitbit/Fitness Tracking Device
Then again, maybe you're a data person. Oooh data data data, gimme all the data! You like knowing all your calorie expenditures, you like tracking your distance by the hundredths of a mile and your pace by the second. There are a variety of options out there (including your phone!).
4) Music and/or headphones
The pros and cons of music and wearing headphones are a whole other blog post, but it's certainly an option for getting you through some tough runs.
Yeah, this is pretty highly recommended by folks with something resembling medical doctor degrees. I usually find my hat to be sufficient, but maybe you really like your vision or you don't relish the idea of bugs splatting on your eyeballs. It's definitely an idea to carry sunglasses.
This is intended to be a pretty high-level list, but are there any items you can't live without on a run? Let me know in the comments!