Since I started running (well, running seriously as a hobby rather than just a thing I do when I eat too much), I’ve noticed that a number of people in my social circles have either confided that they’ve been doing it for a while, or are interested in starting.  Since I have about a year under my belt, I’ve learned a few things (some the hard way).  Here’s some thoughts..

On shoes

Shoes matter.  A lot.  However, they don’t matter in a lot of the ways you might think.  If you want an impossibly in-depth look at running shoes, has countless articles and reviews about running shoes and the science behind them.

Since I lack both any scientific knowledge and have only experimented with a handful of shoes, the best advice I can come up with is this:  Go to a running store and annoy the staff until you find a pair of shoes that makes you want to run more.  Cheaper shoes don’t last as long, but they’re not a recipe for disaster beyond that if they’re up to the task of running at all.

Most folks will recommend that you replace your shoes every 500-800km, since the cushioning eventually stops, er, cushioning.  This might mean you’re good for a few months or longer, but it does mean you’re spending a lot of money on shoes in the long run (no pun intended).  One tip I’ve heard a few times is to find a pair of shoes on clearance and buy multiple pairs of whatever you like best; roughly the same price as a brand-new pair, but you’re covered for a longer time.

In general, I feel pretty comfortable saying that shoes are the only piece of running gear that’s really worth putting a good deal of money into.  The wrong shoes can hurt you (even if it’s just blisters), and the right ones can motivate you to run more.

On clothing

Truth be told, you can run in anything you like.  However, clothes designed for running tend to be better at it, and will do wonderful things like wick away moisture and ventilate your torso.  So there are benefits to wearing the right kind of clothing, but you’re probably going to be okay running in whatever feels comfortable.  For me, it became pretty clear what didn’t work very fast.

On races

They’re fun!  Lots of fun!  And you get a free running shirt, which saves you the trouble of picking one out.

One thing I would definitely recommend is looking around for reviews of whatever race you plan on competing in.  Most people will tell you that Around The Bay is a very hard course, but not as many people will know that the Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon has long downhill passages and your run might be interrupted by a train.

Another cool thing some races have is a race expo, which is basically a giant running/fitness gear sale.  So if you’re looking for a deal on some gear, it can be a pretty good way to go.  It’s also a good way to find out about other races, and to swap stories with other runners.

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