The right gear frees you up to focus on running your best.

Up Your Game with Pro Running Gear

Now that you’re well into your training, you may be feeling the urge to get a little more serious about gear. That’s a positive sign that you’re taking running more seriously, and taking yourself more seriously as an athlete, too.

And if you’re planning on running the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon & 5K, you may be wondering what you need for race day. Take a look at this list of the most popular running equipment, then head down to your local sports store to see what works best for you.

Wickable Clothing

Designed to “wick” or pull moisture away from your skin, wickable fabrics use what manufacturers call “capillary action” to increase air flow and allow your skin cool itself naturally. Wicking shirts, shorts, leggings and pants are also lightweight and flexible so they don’t inhibit movement. Read labels for fabric content and look for polyester blends like polypropylene or natural ingredients like lightweight merino wool and bamboo. Whatever you do, avoid cotton, which holds onto moisture, leading to chafing and chills.

Lightweight Shoes or Racing Flats

Good shoes are a must; if you don’t have some already, here’s what you need to know to choose the pair that’s right for you. But if you’re gearing up for a race, you may want to consider an additional pair that’s lighter weight and designed for speed. If you do opt for new racing shoes, buy them at least two weeks before the race and test them out on training runs first.

Arm Warmers

Like detached tubular sleeves, arm warmers keep you warm while allowing your shoulders the full range of motion, and many come down over your hands as well. They’re also easier to pull off than a shirt if you get warm. If it’s really cold, though, there’s no substitute for gloves.

Energy Fuel

Many runners carry energy fuel to prevent a “crash” midway through a run or race. Gels that contain carbohydrates, electrolytes, and other nutrients are the quickest fuel solution and running gear often has special pockets designed to hold them. Drinking water along with your gel is important to help the nutrients get to your muscles.


With so many options, personal preference rules when it comes to hydration. The most popular options:

  • Hydration belts – choose one that can hold numerous small bottles so you can alternate between water and electrolyte drinks.
  • Backpacks and vest packs – choose one made from ultra-lightweight material that straps tightly without any flapping.
  • Waist packs – come in single bottle and double bottle. Pay attention to placement and avoid those that inhibit arm movement.
  • Handheld – if you prefer the simplicity of carrying your water, choose an ergonomic design that fits comfortably in your hand and is easy to grip.

Sun Protection

No matter what the weather, protect your skin against UV rays with sunscreen and your eyes with sunglasses. A hat or visor is a good idea as well unless you find it too much of a distraction. If you’re going for a long run in strong sun, clothing made from UV-reflective fabric adds additional protection.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.