This will probably be quite dull for anyone who has already bought their running gear or who doesn’t mind paying full price or loves name brands. But for any beginners out there who are also bargain hunters this is a recap of what I’ve found where and some ideas on how to cheaply kit yourself out for running!
I don’t really buy clothes. I’m a sewer and I’m also cheap, broke and really not interested in fashion. Add to that the fact that I don’t like shops and changing rooms can make me homicidal (especially trying to control my 2 children whilst I try something on) and shopping is not a happy time for me! I generally only purchase basics like plain t-shirts, underwear and jeans, if possible from supermarkets or online, anything else I fancy comes from a rather large fabric and pattern stash in the tiny room where my sewing occurs. I looked into sewing running things, Melissa makes some wonderful clothess for herself. However,when I checked out fabric prices it was all a bit more than I wanted to pay and as I wasn’t sure what type of clothing I would be comfortable in anyway I figured I’d hunt out some bargains to start with.
First off I went to the big sports shops in our closest big shopping area. Sports Direct was the only place where I had any luck on prices I was willing to pay and things I actually liked and I came away with some Karimor items (they sell online too at discounted prices). I bought a long sleeve shirt and a running jacket, both of which are comfortable. The jacket isn’t wind proof but it has worked so far with the weather wearing a variety of shirts under it. I also bought some LA Gear things from Sports Direct very cheaply. When I was a younger teenager LA Gear was all the rage so it was amusing to buy it at this stage of my life! I got some 3/4 length trousers, a tank top and a short sleeve t-shirt. I was very happy to not have bought anything pink as that seems to be the colour of a huge amount of women’s sports gear, although what I ended up with was turquoise, black and grey and as my shoes are black and turquoise I can look a little over co-ordinated at times!
I’ve also bought a few bits from Asda, my first pair of running trousers were from them for £10 as I didn’t want to spend big money not knowing if I was going to continue this time around. I have since bought a pair of running tights from them (not actually worn those yet as they have a brushed lining so I’m saving them for REALLY cold days!) and a zip up jacket that I loved when I saw it in the shop pre-running days but couldn’t afford and managed to get from the website at half price, £6! I also bought my running bra from Asda for the amazing price of £6. I had bought some other ‘sports’ bras which turned out to be no more supportive than my normal bras so wasn’t sure if this one would be any better, but it’s actually pretty great, comfortable and very supportive. I wish I’d gone back and bought another one but I didn’t think about it and now they’re not available any more. I’ve tried on a few sports bras since in a range of styles and prices but haven’t found anything that fits me at all let alone as comfortably as my current one.
Ebay is another great source for new runners who want to try out gear but don’t want to spend full price on it. I have bough an ear warmer headband (worked really nicely the other day and was easy to take off to stow in a pocket when I didn’t need it any more), some running gloves, a short sleeve t-shirt (the postage on this was stupid so the bidding only went up to £1.09!), a brand new pair of M&S sports trousers for £5. I also got a New Balance running shirt which I treated myself too at £19.99 including postage (it was new) which is still almost half price, plus it’s a fab shirt which is really lightweight and comfortable.
I am not really a Primark shopper but I do buy fleece pyjamas from there as our house is freezing and my kids grow really fast so I don’t want to spend lots of money replacing their pyjamas each year. I was in there getting a pair for myself and my younger son and found that they had a small sports section. I was about to walk out with nothing when I spotted a short sleeve shirt half price for £3 and I also found some knee length leggings for about £6 so I grabbed them both.
TK Maxx is another shop that has a small sports section, it’s almost all brand names and the one I went to seemed to mainly be smaller sizes but I did find a nice long sleeve t-shirt for £9.99 and a screamingly bright orange tank top for £5. They had New Balance things in there, the shirts were £15, but they didn’t have the larger sizes.
Besides shoes, which I won’t go into in this post as I don’t really know enough about them to discuss them in any great detail (yet!), I was trying to find was a reasonably priced wind proof jacket. The village I currently live in is on a cliff about a mile away from the sea and it is by far the windiest place I have ever lived. It’s only going to get worse from here until Spring so a jacket was a must. I was bidding on one on Ebay and looking around for price comparisons when I stumbled upon a Brooks Essential II jacket on Amazon, for some unknown reason this jacket, which usually goes for £55 or more, was in my size for £15 so I prayed I got outbid on Ebay (I did!) and snapped it up.
A couple of non-clothing things that I bought (again very cheaply) have been one of those water bottles that has a hole in the middle for you to hold it. My throat was getting really dry and I think the cold weather will only make it worse so having a small amount of water with me is helpful. I have found that it fits into the pocket of my jackets too so I don’t actually have to carry it which is nice. I also ordered one of these for the bizarre price of £1.66 including postage from China on Ebay
Not all my running clothes have pockets and I refuse to go anywhere without my phone. I’m a single parent and should the school need to get in touch with me I need my phone on me, also I’m a clumsy woman running alone in the woods (well, alone besides the hand full of dog walkers I see that is!) so if I trip over something and fall over being able to ring for help is always a plus. My MP3 player is attached to my arm but I also have my door key to stow somewhere. Some of the pockets on things I own don’t actually work so well. The Primark trousers have a lovely zipped pocket right at the small of the back which I thought was a wonderful idea until the 20th time I had to pull my trousers up as my phone was weighing them down and my first pair of Asda trousers had such a well concealed pocket that it took me ages to actually locate it! Hopefully this belt will mean that I can carry what I need easily, I shall report back once it’s arrived!
So, I’m pretty fully kitted out I think, for summer I might need some shorts and I’d like some better socks than I bought to start out with but beyond that what I have found should keep me going for quite a while, hopefully I will shrink out of it before I wear it out.
I’m trying to learn how to layer properly for the weather, I understand that I need to wear less than I think but there’s wearing less and ending up with hypothermia and wearing more and ending up like you’ve robbed a clothing store and are making away with an armful of goods. I’ve been trying to wear things so that I can uncover in layers. The other day it was a long sleeve t-shirt under the jacket, long trousers and the earwarmer headband under my baseball cap. The t-shirt had thumb holes and the sleeves of my jacket are too long so they cover my hands which means I’ve not needed gloves yet and I 2 stages I can go through uncovering my hands as I warm up. I can then push up my sleeves one layer at a time and lower the zip of my jacket a bit at a time. Then as I’m doing my warm down walk I put everything back to how it was as I started by the time I get home!
I do have a complaint about exercise gear besides the pink and that is the fact that the sizing is so bizarre. Calling a size 16 an XL really doesn’t encourage those of use who wear a 16/18 or larger to want to buy your clothing. Sometimes an XL is smaller than that and I can’t even get it on despite the lycra which is just depressing. I’m not saying that I think that exercise gear should be vanity sized, but it would be nice if it fit in with the same sort of measurements as regular clothing.
My only rule with my running clothes is that I never look at myself in the mirror while I’m wearing them (not that I actually own a full length mirror). When I’m wearing them I feel like a runner, I have put on specific clothes to do a specific thing and I feel athletic and strong. I do not need to worry about whether my belly looks huge, how horrid the different layers of lycra look on me or to wonder what other people are going to think of me. When I have those clothes on I’m a runner and that’s all that matters.