Running is a great form of exercise. It’s easily accessible and requires very little skill other than being able to put one foot in front of the other. Getting started can be tough though. We’ve rounded up some of the best inexpensive products and apps for the newbie runner.
Yes, you can just slip on some suitable shoes and start running outdoors, but wouldn’t it be more fun to have your own little kit of things to help motivate you and make the endeavor a little more fun? That’s why we’ve put together this handy starter kit for you.
Not only are the apps and products great for kick starting your running experience but the products can even be used outside of your daily runs which makes them a great value even if you don’t stick with your new hobby until you’re addicted to the runner’s high. Now, we’re not saying you’re going to quit this healthy hobby before you’ve even begun, but it’s nice to know that you’re not wasting your money on something that might barely be used again.
RunKeeper (Android/iOS, Free)
RunKeeper is kind of a big deal in the running community, and there’s a good reason for that—it’s the perfect app for Android and iOS, regardless of ability. It easily tracks your workouts, whether that happens to be a run, jog, or cycle, meaning it’s great even if you give up your running ambitions.
It’s simple to set goals within the app, before following a plan that fit into your schedule. The social integration side of the app helps keep you motivated too—you can join challenges, earn rewards, and compete with your friends to be the best at your chosen activity. After all, everyone loves to win, right? Plus, while there’s a subscription model, you don’t have to pay for the core functions so it’s ideal when you’re starting out.
C25K 5K Trainer (Android/iOS, Free)
You’ve probably already heard of the Couch to 5K plan. In fact, it might even be why you’ve decided to take up running. Touted as a plan that will get everyone running for 5K, no matter their ability, it’s a great starting point. This app is the official one for the program, available for Android and iOS, and it’s very useful.
Through it, you’ll be coached to walk, jog or run for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week, over 8 weeks. By the end, you should be able to run the whole distance. It’s a pretty good plan at easing you in gently, with the app offering audio cues and encouragement as you go along. Everything goes better with a plan and running is no different. An app like this could make a world of difference for the grand price of a little time each week.
Fitbit Flex 2 ($59)
The ability to track how much you move each day is pretty valuable. With tangible data, you can see how much or how little you happen to be walking just by going about your daily business. The Fitbit Flex 2 is aimed at everyone, not just runners, but that makes it doubly useful.
When you’re not running, it tracks every step you make, the calories you burn, how well you sleep, and even keeps an eye on your swimming progress. When you’re running, it automatically detects your workout and records it to the app. It’s not quite as effective as a dedicated running smartwatch but you’re just starting out and there’s something to be said for a tool that’s useful all day long. Enjoy the flexibility of the Fitbit and appreciate that the worst case scenario has you quitting running but still tracking how much you’re moving. Want to try a more expansive Fitbit? We’ve got a great guide for that.
The FlipBelt is an easy to use belt with multiple pocket openings for storing all your stuff. Designed in a way that eradicates chafing and discomfort, it’s useful even when you’re not running.
The thinking behind it is that everyone has stuff to carry. When I go out to exercise, I take my iPhone, my house keys, some cash, and my asthma inhaler. To an extent, pockets are useful but a FlipBelt is a far more practical solution. Thanks to its zip based compartments, you never have to worry about anything falling out while you’re moving too. With numerous different sizes available, you don’t have to worry about it being too tight or too loose a fit either.
SWIGM Smart Water Bottle ($40)
When exercising, you need to keep hydrated. Otherwise, you’re going to feel fairly lousy at the end. That’s actually a principle that continues throughout the day, even when resting. Dehydration and thirst can make you feel pretty bad, but it’s still easy to forget to drink regularly.
The SWIGM Smart Water Bottle counteracts that by tracking your water consumption and reminding you when you need to drink more with a beep or two to nudge you to pay attention. It also keeps your water at a suitable temperature thanks to its insulation. Via an HD touch screen, it informs you of the temperature along with the water purity level.
It’s expensive if you use it just while running but that’s overlooking how useful it is the rest of the time. It works just as well at your work desk, reminding you to take a sip, or when commuting and liable to forget to keep hydrated.
Tribe Water Resistant Cell Phone Armband ($10)
Simple and to the point, the Tribe Water Resistant Cell Phone Armband saves you having to find pocket space for your phone, while still making it easy to grab and use. Just cuff it on to your upper arm, and your phone will be safely stored while you’re doing whatever you’re doing. A built-in reflective strip makes you noticeable in low light conditions too.
Obviously, you’ll be running (right?) but it’s also a useful armband if you’re taking a leisurely walk or are wearing something without any pockets. There’s a separate compartment for storing your key too, making it extra useful.
SoundPEATS Magnetic Wireless Bluetooth Headphones ($24)
There’s no shortage of great bluetooth headphones out there, but inexpensive ones can be harder to track down. The SoundPEATS Bluetooth Headphones do a good job of being effective while remaining quite inexpensive.
Comfortable to wear, sweat proof, and offering 8 hours of play time, they tick all the boxes. You can attach the pieces together to form a necklace any time you’re not wearing them which is pretty useful if you stop off at a nearby store, plus there’s an in-line mic and volume control buttons.
Sound quality wise, there are better options out there but not in this price range. If you’re just starting out, these headphones will be great whether you’re running or simply commuting.
Image by Izf/Shutterstock.