The Run Around: 5 Essentials Every Beginning Runner Needs

Welcome to the first edition of The Run Around (and a big thank you to those who voted on Twitter and Facebook on the new blog series name and a HUGE thank you to reader Audrey for suggesting the name in the first place!!). In The Run Around, I’ll be handing the blog over to other runners (experienced runners, new runners, faster runners, slower runners, bloggers, non-bloggers) to share their wisdom with you. I learn so much from other runners of all levels and think y’all will too.


I am so excited to introduce Michelle from The Runner’s Plate as the first guest writer in The Run Around. I’m a huge fan of Michelle’s blog; she is hugely inspirational and she just seems so dang nice. I’ve read her blog for years, watching in awe as she’s gotten faster and faster, while working full time and then after having a child. She’s currently training to break 3 hours in the marathon (!!!), which would be at least 42 minutes faster than her first marathon in 2010

Okay, over to you Michelle! Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with us! xo


5 Essentials Every Beginning Runner Needs
Hey everyone! I’m Michelle from The Runner’s Plate. I am a little obsessed with running and have been doing it for over 20 years. I love racing anything from the 5K to the marathon and am now working towards breaking 3 hours in the marathon. I currently reside in Alaska where I hate the snow, love the sunshine, but was too in love to think clearly when I moved here 8 years ago. I have worked with runners of all different abilities and put together a blog post highlighting 5 things that are essential for the beginning runner. (Actually, they are good reminders for every runner, for that matter!)


1. Good Running Shoes
A pair of comfortable, high quality shoes are by far the most important piece of equipment you should own as a runner. If you are going to invest any money in this new hobby of yours, be sure to buy proper shoes for your gait and body type. A good pair of shoes can make or break your experience. The wrong type of shoes could cause injury, and shoes that are too cheap aren’t going to provide you with the support and comfort you need. Expect to spend $120 – $160 on a new pair of running shoes. (Keep in mind the higher priced shoes will last longer.) I would also highly encourage you not to buy these running shoes at the local big box sports store. Most of those employees have probably never run more than the mile in school and probably won’t be able to answer any questions you may have. Instead, find a local running store and have them properly fit you for a pair of shoes. They are runners themselves and will help you find the correct running shoes.


 2. A Plan
I think too many beginning runners have good intentions of ‘getting in shape,’ ‘running a 5K,’ or ‘losing 10 pounds,’ but they have no idea how to get from where they currently are to their end goal. Before you embark on your journey to completing these goals, make sure you have a plan on how you’re going to get from point ‘a’ to point ‘b.’ Map out what each day, week, and month are going to look like. There are many different plans to be found online with a simple Google search. Most are very reputable and offer plans based on your starting fitness level and which race distance you want to complete at.


If you want a more personalized plan, hiring a coach is a great way to offer a very personalized plan with regular communication to help answer any questions you may have along the way. Either way, lay out a plan that is attainable for you, works with your schedule, and is appropriate for your starting fitness level. [Teri chiming here: Michelle didn’t plug herself so I’ll do it for her – she offers virtual running coaching, so she can coach you no matter where you’re located!]
3. A Race to Run
Most beginning runners are motivated by a race whether it is a race they signed up for themselves or something a friend (positively) pressured them into doing. Having a race is great motivation to stick to your plan and the reward of crossing that finish line is unlike many other accomplishments. After pushing your body physically and challenging your mental ability to keep going, you get to see the accumulation of all your hard work pay off.


Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to properly train for this race. Most marathon plans run 16 week, but even those require some base mileage. I would give yourself a few extra weeks to train in the event that you fall off the plan due to an injury or illness. Don’t be intimidated and think you have to be “fast” (which is very relative) to run a race. Every single race I have been to, there are always people of all different abilities participating, including people who will walk the entire race. Runners are very encouraging people, and when you tell them this is your first race, they will be so happy for you!
4. Comfortable Clothes
While your running shoes are the most important piece of equipment, quality clothes will help your experience be more enjoyable during your runs as well. You don’t need anything fancy, but you will quickly find out why paying a little extra for a sweat-wicking shirt and synthetic socks are worth the extra dough (versus using an old cotton t-shirt and cotton socks you have lying around). You do not need to drop several hundred dollars on Lululemon apparel to outfit yourself, Old Navy, Gap, and the thrift stores offer reasonably-priced running clothes and work just fine. I would encourage you to at least have your base layers (those closest to your skin) be sweat-wicking. These will help pull moisture away from your skin and keep you drier and your body cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
5. Accountability
Now that you have a plan and you know what your end goal is, you will need to find a way to keep yourself accountable. It isn’t easy getting up early to run when everyone else is still sleeping or finding the motivation to run after a long day at the office. At first it can be pretty easy to stay motivated, but after a month or two, it is easier to find excuses. So after the newness wears off, how are you going to keep yourself accountable?


Friends make great accountability partners. Are you really going to skip out on your friend who is waiting for you at 6 a.m. on a dark, cold morning? Hopefully not! Or maybe you hire a coach in your city or one online. You don’t want to have to let them down by saying you didn’t complete your workout that day, do you? Also, try your local running store for social runs or group runs on the weekend. Even in the middle of nowhere (ahem. . .Alaska) there are runners to be found.
You could also keep a journal or a log of your daily runs on how they went to keep yourself motivated. Do you really want to have nothing to write down on a day you were supposed to go for a run?


Finally, following other runners on Instagram and/or reading blogs are great motivation tools. While they can’t be there in person, they might give you that extra push to get outside the door and run. Because we all know, the hardest part is getting out the front door; once you’ve done that, you’re committed to the run.
Thank you Michelle!! I 100% agree with everything you wrote!

Alright readers, your turn: what are your “essentials” for running? You can say ditto to any of Michelle’s items too! 🙂

Ready to run?

Let me help! I've been running for almost 20 years, and have run over 50 races from 5Ks to marathons and 24 hour relay races.

I've learned a lot along the way and would love to help you too!

I'll send you advice for getting started and staying motivated, my favorite running gear, playlists, tips to increase your speed, avoid injuries and more!

Click that pretty pink button! Powered by ConvertKit

Rate This Post

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


  • Janelle @ Wholly Healthy

    Yes to all of these! I’d also say good music – I can’t run without it!

  • Rachel K

    I agree with all of these! I would also add that beginning (and seasoned) runners should be realistic when starting a new plan. Going from 0 runs a week to running everyday is a surefire way to get injured and discouraged! This is something I need to remind myself every March when I start training for my summer races.

    Another essential is to plan out your running routes – finding a scenic route makes the run much more enjoyable and switching it up occasionally will prevent boredom. I live in Boston so I enjoy running around the Charles River and exploring new neighborhoods with beautiful houses.

  • Michelle

    Thanks for including me in on this series! I hope others find these tips helpful. 🙂

  • Sam

    I can definitely vouch for Michelle as a coach, I have truly enjoyed working with her and am looking forward to seeing how much I can improve working with her!

    Along those lines, having a coach makes a huge impact on accountability. Yes, Michelle is “so dang nice,” but I don’t want to disappoint her!

    Today is also her birthday! Happy Birthday!

  • Audrey

    Yay you used my idea! Best of luck with your new series… 🙂