Getting into the sport of running does not require a lot of stuff, but you will, however, need to buy some stuff for this crazy sport, so just be ready. 

Besides a running schedule, you definitely need
1.) running shoes,
2.) running socks,
3.) a technical running shirt and
4.) some running shorts or tights. 

(Gals, check out my last paragraph in this section too.  A little upper body undergarment talk.  Guys, feel free to check out that section too because you may need an “undergarment” of sorts too.  No joke.) 

OK, OK.  First, shoes - and not just any shoes - a pair of running shoes.  Running shoes can make or break a runner  and are a super important part of running - so important that I’ve written more than a few pages on shoes.  It’s not a rambling accident. 

Tennis shoes or walking shoes or the old shoes that you mow the yard in will get you through one run at first - maybe 2 - but don’t push your luck on non running shoes.  Your feet and joints tend to yell pretty loudly when you haven’t provided them with some nice running shoes.  Ideally, you either live in or relatively near a city that has a running store - not a sports store, but a running store.  This store will be worth it’s weight in gold. 

Luke’s Locker in the Houston area has been my place of choice because of it’s convenience and nice knowledgeable  people there. REI Sports and Fleet Feet Sports are also a good ones and and Road Runner Sports was a great one too when I was visiting Seattle.  These are just a few, but what I’m saying is pick a RUNNING store if you can.  Sure, you can always go online and buy shoes or even purchase them in a sports store at the mall, but if you are just starting out with this running thing, getting to a running store will be very worth your time.  Very worth your time. 

Really, I would drive over an hour to get to a running store for my first pair of running shoes.  What folks may not realize is that at specialty running stores they employ runners - yes, they have people who actually run and know the ins and outs about running and the equipment (namely shoes) that create successful, comfortable, and hopefully injury free, runners.  At a running store, they will measure BOTH of your feet and fit you to your largest foot.  (It’s pretty common for feet to be different sizes and running in shoes that fit one foot but are too small for another foot will just be the beginning of the end of your running enjoyment.)  A specialist at the running store will also watch you walk with your shoes off to correctly put you in a pair of shoes that will support your natural step (called pronation) and they should also check out the arch of your foot.  You should have at least 2 - 3 choices of shoes to try on and walk around.  Even better, the running store will have a treadmill to try them out for a few seconds to see if they feel ok. 

A few helpful points to know when trying on shoes . . .

1.) Socks will make a huge difference.  Try on shoes with running socks.  And buy that pair of running socks.  Basic cotton socks will just shred your feet if they get wet from either rain or sweat.  Technical socks sold at running stores should wick moisture away from your feet and keep blisters away.  It’s worth the little investment. 

2.) Your feet will be bigger in the afternoon so that’s the best time to try on shoes.  Overly tight shoes = one unhappy runner. 

3.) Don’t immediately omit a shoe because the top of your foot is cramped or your heel is slipping.  There are a variety of ways to lace shoes to fit your foot better and the folks at your running store will know these different lacing techniques.  No, they do not know this stuff at generic sports stores.  I promise.  I’ve tried. 

4.) Plan on buying a running shoe that is a half a size to a full size larger than shoes that you normally wear.  It’s just how it is and how running shoes fit best.  Give yourself a thumbs width from the end of your toe to the top of the shoe for the best fit.  Your foot shouldn’t be “mummified” in the shoe - it needs to be allowed to move and shift back and forth in the shoe as you run.  If you choose to pick a shoe style or size that doesn’t allow ample  movement or breathing room, then go ahead and buy some blue nail polish to cover up that lovely black toenail that will result from your overly snug shoe.  (By the way, black toenails are relatively common with longer distance runners.  Don’t freak out.  But overly tight shoes will create these quickly with any runner.)

I personally like a shoe with a large toe box (the area at the front of the shoe where your toes are - duh) because I tend to scrunch my toes when I run.  I also lace my shoes before a run with my toes scrunched down in the shoe so that they are not laced too tight.  Your foot can swell from front to back, side to side and on top during your run and what may feel a little bit roomy at the beginning of a run will feel fine at the end of a run.

Running, like any other sport or hobby, can be as expensive as you make it.  There are a lot of pricey gadgets and cool clothes out there to lure you in, but please please focus on shoes first and leave the other cool things for later - like after you know you are going to seriously stick with this.  I say reward yourself after 3 miles or 5 miles or a race finish with a new running purchase, but don’t break the bank right now.  Seriously, start with shoes.  It’s easy to take the importance of running shoes for granted until you run in an old pair of shoes and the bottoms of your feet or your shins or lower back just kill after a little bit of running.  (Again, speaking from experience.)  $100 is not abnormal to spend on a pair of running shoes.  You’ll be able to find sales from time to time once you find the shoe that fits you best, but for your first purchase, I say make the investment. 

Next, buy some running socks.  These socks will cost about $10-12+ a pair.  I don’t know what makes running socks so bloomin’ expensive; they just are.  But no joke, your blister free feet will thank you - or rather they won’t cuss your name because you decided to save that $10 and are just wearing those flimsy cotton socks that you wear with your Keds that are inevitably going to breed blisters.  And come on, buy at least 2 pairs of running socks.  You know you are not going to do laundry everyday and you’ll probably run on consecutive days.  Don’t wear running socks 2 days in a row.  That’s gross.  You just spent over $100 bucks on shoes.  Suck up another $20.  It’s worth it.  

Another thing to strongly consider - a technical running shirt.  Whether you are on the treadmill or the trail, you will love running in a technical running shirt.  “Technical”  just means a polyester or poly blend shirt.  Shirts that are suited for running often say “technical” or “wicking” and are specifically made to be a cooling agent and not trap the heat in your core or sweat on your skin when you run. 

I say a big NO NO NO to cotton tshirts that you got from the company picnic or from that fun vacation - and here’s why . . . Now I’m from south Texas where it is Africa hot here in the spring, summer and fall and I have found that a cotton shirt weighs approximately 20 pounds after you have sweat through a run.  I might as well just wrap my torso in plastic wrap also because cotton doesn’t breath.  At all.  Whatever strength and stamina you have tucked away for a particular run, rest assured that a ‘wet with sweat’ cotton shirt will suck all of that strength and stamina from your entire being.  This sweaty cotton shirt will also stick to your skin and start chafing.  Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? 

You don’t have to buy your “running shirt” at a running store (you can get them at Target and Walmart even), but get a “technical performance shirt” if you are running in the heat (or in the cold for that matter).  It will be made out of polyester and after your run, you will not believe that you ever considered running in cotton. 

Houston does get cold for about 2 months and I have purchased some cold weather wear that is necessary for these cold months - namely running tights, a long sleeved (polyester) technical shirt, a jacket or sweatshirt, a hat that covers your ears and gloves. My cold running experience is not extensive living in Houston, I know, but  substituting short sleeves with long sleeves and shorts with tights or pants along with covering your head and hands is where you need to start.  Dress in layers.  You are freezing now, but you will heat up during that run and profusely sweating in winter running gear is not too comfortable.  Be prepared to tie that sweatshirt around your waist and be prepared to heat up a bit.  Runners World magazine is written and published in the Northeast (Pennsylvania and New York) and their magazine and website has lots of input on cold running gear if you are up north. 

Next piece of running gear - running shorts (or depending on the weather, tights).  I’m also a fan of running skirts and even run in a black skirt that has built in shorts that I bought in a tennis shop during my tennis days.  (Believe it or not, there is a debate about the style and “validity” of gals who wear running skirts.  Something like “real runners don’t wear skirts.”  Huh?  I ran my first half marathon and posted my best time in a running skirt.  I wear running shorts too.  It’s a stupid debate.) 

Running shorts, skirts or tights don’t need to break the bank.  Target, Kohls, Walmart and big sports stores sell these.  The best ones have a mesh like liner or even running tights built in the shorts or skirt that keeps the need for cotton underwear unnecessary.  Yes, that’s what I said - if there is a liner built into the shorts or if you are wearing running tights, you don’t wear underwear.  Get over it.  No one is judging.  Non runners don’t know this little tidbit and runners all forego undies because your everyday underroos will chafe you like nobody’s business (think wet socks and blisters) and you will want to die when that soapy water hits that cotton undie chafed skin in the shower after your run.  Running with shorts and cotton underwear is allowed (don’t go “commando” if your shorts don’t have a liner or tights - ewwww), but trust me, the last thing you want to do during a run is have cotton undies riding up on you and having to find a way to nonchalantly work that problem out (literally).  Not cool.  Not cool at all.
Now for the last basic clothing item, I’m gonna talk undergarments - specifically bras.  (Guys - your “bra” section is next.  Really.  No really, it is.)  But gals, whether you’re an A cup or a DD+ cup, you will need a bra to run in.  Please don’t think about running in your everyday bra.  You’re going to need a sports bra.  Try on different ones and find one that is comfy in the shoulders and around your chest.  Shelf bras are fine for As and sometimes Bs, but for sure if you are a C or bigger (and maybe a B - remember, you are running and they really are going to move), you’re going to want a sports bra that is underwire and either separates your gals or, more commonly, compresses them.  Running stores will have sports bras as well.  Without getting too personal, I will tell you that a plain shelf bra or a non underwire bra for us gals that are C, D, DD or whatever will just plain hurt on a run.  I see girls running without the right support bra and I cringe.  Oh. My. Gosh.  You’ve seen them too.  It’s not pretty (for us females to witness, at least) and it’s got to hurt like hell.  An in all honesty, you can stretch or tear the tissue or ligaments around your chest area without a proper bra support.  (Sadly, personal experience advice here.)  A good running bra is a very close second in importance to buying the right shoes.  Don’t leave that store without a good supportive running bra.

Now boys, you may think you are immune to any bra talk (which you are), but you know how wet socks can rub a blister on a delicate foot?  Well, the same premise holds true for a damp tshirt rubbing against your nipples.  It’s a thought that probably just sent shivers down your spine.  Some entrepreneur running guy learned this the hard way while trying to wash blood out of his tshirt after a run  and thus invented a disposable item called nipple guards.  They are like bandaids that go over, well, your nipples.  Although I’ve never personally used them, I understand that they are pretty darn necessary for some dudes.  You can get these at a running store where you buy your shoes or you can order them online.
Finally, a few other little items you may want to consider in this beginning phase of running:

1.) Sunscreen and sunglasses.  Your skin and eyes don’t care if you are running outside or laying out at the pool or are lost in the desert.  It’s all about the sun protection with the skin and eyes and the damage is 100% irreversible.  Get some sports sunscreen for your face and shoulders, at the least, and protect those eyes too.

2.) Body glide.  This is a brand name petroleum jelly    substitute for runners that comes in a container that looks like deodorant.  (But it’s not deodorant!)  Even just a few minutes of running can chafe you in skin on skin or fabric on skin areas that really can stop a run because it is so uncomfortable.  Raw skin, salty sweat - you get the painful picture.  Inner thighs, under bra straps, underarms, feet or heels, even the “upper buttocks area” (do the visual, I’m just not gonna say it . . . but I’ve had it here).  Some folks use Vasoline in these chafe prone areas, but Body Glide is not sticky and it doesn’t stain clothes like Vasoline can.  They sell Body Glide at specialty running stores.  Probably worth the purchase.

3.) A digital watch.  For the first few weeks especially, your schedule may be based on time and not mileage (ie.  walk 8 minutes, run 14 minutes, walk 8 minutes).  I think this is a really smart way to start a running routine.  It only stands to reason that an inexpensive digital watch or timer is perfect for this type of training.  It doesn’t need any bells or whistles, just a timer. 

3.) A “Blinky” Light.  A little scenario - picture this . . . You are running on the side of the road against traffic - 

** stop - major runners’ rule ** - Always run on the side of the road where you can SEE the cars coming towards you so that you can run defensively and establish eye contact with drivers. 

Anyway, as you are running and seeing cars approach you, you figure they can see you as well, right?  Don’t count on it.  With the unfortunate mass of multitasking (phones, kids in back, loud radios) now happening in cars, don’t assume that your moving body coming toward a vehicle is going to get a driver’s attention. 

If you are running at dawn or dusk, a red blinking light is a must.  And once again, they sell these at running stores.  You’ll want to wear it on the neck of your shirt or the front of your hat for the best visual.  It’s not a fashion statement that goes on your waist or shorts - it’s a safety statement that’s supposed to get a driver’s attention.  Be the blinky light.  And accompany this blinky light with bright clothes.  Running in a grey shirt and black running tights at dusk is risky.  Think about it and dress smart. 

4.) And finally, a Shoe ID.  This is a simple tag that attaches around your shoelaces with your personal and medical info.  Call it the cheapest insurance policy ever for a runner.  This ID should list your name, phone number, person to contact in an emergency, blood type and any medical conditions or drug allergies.  You’ve just got to have this on your person when you are running - even with a group or a friend.  They cost around $5 and could seriously save your life.