Who doesn't love a little new running gear? Maybe it's new shoes, a new top, or a new GPS watch. We'd be lying if we said a little new gear didn't kick us into high gear - it's total motivation to get out the door and rock our workout.
So - today, we want to discuss some of our favorite pieces, shoes, brands, etc. A few of you have asked questions about this lately, and while much of this is subject to personal preference, we'll share what we know and what we like.
We will start with a few of our favorite brands and provide the pros and cons. We'll then take a look at shoes, accessories, and some other gear. Enjoy!
*Please note, everyone is different, and different shoes/gear work for different people. Use what works best for you. We can't go over every brand/piece/shoe here, so we've chosen our favorites. Feel free to tell us about yours!
* Men - I'll do my best to help you, but I'm a girl. That being said, some of the brands we mentioned such as Nike, Lululemon, and UA are some of our favorites for guys as well.
In general: Athleta (a GAP company) is all about "Power to the She" - a proud sponsor of Girls on the Run International, Athleta takes pride in top quality clothing and providing an fun shopping experience. Athleta's clothing wears well and offers pieces for working out, going out, and your everyday work attire. Plus, you'll find accessories and shoes as well.
Price Range: $10-$150+
Pros: Quality product
Cons: The fit can be all over the board. Sometimes you may need an XS, sometimes an XXS, sometimes a S, or sometimes a M. Who knows. This makes online ordering difficult.
Our Favorite Piece(s): Athleta makes some of the comfiest pullovers around, ranging from about $50-$80. Plus, their swim line fits well and is very flattering. They also have some really great accessories and dresses (dresses range about $50-$120) for work.
In general: Lululemon is a Vancouver based company that has captured the high-end market. Competitive with Athleta and another favorite company, SPLITS 59, Lululemon is huge in the both the yoga and running community. Although Lulu had a bad go with their see through yoga pants and their quality briefly declined, they are climbing back into consumers good graces with high quality products and flattering cuts once again. Men, you may feel like Lulu is a "girly" company, but I know several men who will vouch for the quality and comfort of their products. Check it out.
Price Range: $15-$150+
Pros: Very flattering fit - there's no doubt that Lululemon is sexy. The quality is good as well.
Cons: Sizing can be tricky as it isn't quite sized as we are used to
Our Favorite Piece(s): Lululemon's "Free to Be" and "Free to Be Wild" sports bras are some of the cutest you'll see. They run about $48. Plus, their "Speed Shorts" are great (and super comfy) for long runs. For yoga, you cannot beat their crops which run anywhere from ~$70-$110. Oh - their socks are the best. If you haven't tried them, you're missing out. Lulu also offers some of the best yoga mats around.
In general: We've all known and loved (or hated) Nike for years. As kids, everyone wanted to wear Nike shoes - they've been the "it" brand for a long time, and still seem to end up on top. Nike offers a wide range of athletic clothing that can be worn for a various array of activities.
Price Range: $15-$150+
Pros: Nike's products last. Buy it once, and you'll keep it for a long time.
Cons: The fit. It seems that year after year, Nike's fit changes. A size S is now closer to a M. This can be slightly frustrating.
Our Favorite Piece(s): Nike's Pro Compression shorts for both men and women are great. Nike also makes some great running shoes. I'll admit that I was a Nike running shoe skeptic until I gave them a try about two years ago. The Nike Vomero has quickly become one of my favorite pieces.
In general: A French word for bird, Oiselle itself is something of a shibboleth. If you can't pronounce it, you're obviously not a member of the club. That being said, Oiselle offers something for everyone, and the quality is great.
Price Range: $25-$150+ (A little pricier than Athleta, Lululemon, Nike, or UA) - Although we didn't talk much about SPLITS 59 (mentioned in the Lulu review), Oiselle and SPLITS 59 have a close price point. That being said, they both have high quality and awesome clothing.
Pros: Intricate, pretty pieces that function well
Cons: Price point
Our Favorite Piece(s): Oiselle's shorts are some of the cutest around as are their tanks.
In general: When you wear UA, you want to kick butt. There's just something about it. The gear is flattering yet functional at the same time. Plus, you won't pay an arm and a leg for a quality piece. Who's their biggest competitor? We'll guess it's Nike.
Price Range: $15-$150+
Pros: Price and functionality
Cons: The huge UA logo seems to be on everything. We don't always want that.
Our Favorite Piece(s): UA has some great sports bras, and their headbands do a great job of keeping the sweat out of our eyes.
So, we'll go over a few of the major shoes brands and discuss our favorites.
Asics is a longtime favorite of many runners. However, the price point is high, even for their lower end shoes. Think, $100-$180 per pair. That being said, you get what you pay for. Asics offers some incredibly cushioned and comfy shoes that make you feel like your feet are on fluffy cottonball pillow marshmallow puppy clouds. Between neutral, support, motion control, and racing shoes, Asics is overall a great brand. Of course, they may not work for everyone, but for many runners, Asics is the go-to shoe as it is well built.
Adidas fans are pretty loyal, and while they don't work for me, they do offer a good shoe. The price point ranges from about $100-$170, so not much different from Asics. Adidas has been a long time competitor of Nike, Reebok, and now UA. That being said, they seem to be doing okay in the shoe realm. They offer neutral, support, and racing shoes. Plus, the shoes have a nice aesthetic appeal.
Brooks is a longtime favorite for me. Again, the price point here is about $100-$170 depending on the shoe you choose. Brooks offers a high quality shoe and offers neutral, support, motion control, racing, and trail running shoes. My personal favorite? The Brooks Ghost.
Mizuno's are pretty. There's no doubt about that. They have a sleek design that is attractive to many runners. The price point is about $115-$180. They offer neutral, support, racing, and trail running shoes in some incredibly attractive colors and styles. Just make sure you pick the shoe based on your needs and not how pretty it is. Make sure you care for your Mizuno's properly as well, as improper care can ruin your shoe.
So, a lot of people think of New Balance as "the shoe for old people" - you know, the plain white sneaker. Well, not so much. New Balance offers an array of shoes for all runners ranging from ~ $100-$150. New Balance offers trail, racing, support, and neutral running shoes in a variety of styles and colors. Check out the New Balance foam line. It's quite comfortable and it's light. Perfect for longer distance racing. I enjoyed racing 13.1 in the NB Foam.
Newton presents a whole different world. A natural running shoes using POP technology, a Newton shoe will feel different than what you're used to. Ease into these shoes, as some people have trouble adjusting. With prices ranging from ~$115-$190, this brand can take a bit to get used to. The first running shoe company to achieve a B Corp status, Netwon offers neutral, support, racing and trail.
Just Do It. Nike has been around forever. Nearly everyone recognizes the check mark logo. However, some runners are hesitant to use Nike shoes for running considering, for a long time, they were not considered top of the line running gear. Now, Nike has made an effort to change that. Nike produces a high quality shoe that can handle high mileage. Plus, their shoes are attractive. The price point is about the same as everyone else, keeping Nike competitive. You'll find trail, neutral, support, and racing shoes.
I love Pearl Izumi trail shoes. They're comfortable and they look badass. In addition to trail shoes, you'll find neutral, support, and racing shoes. The price point falls in the $120 range.
Do you even Crossfit, bro? Reebok has quickly become the brand of Crossfit. But, while they're entering and dominating that market, they also offer running shoes. While I have not had much experience with Reebok running shoes (other than the fact I wore them as a kid), Reebok offers a variety of shoes for men and women in the $75-$100 price range.
The Saucony Kinvara has been a longtime favorite of mine as well, and not just because it's so dang pretty. Offering neutral, support, motion control, racing, and trail shoes, Saucony's price point ranges from about $120-$150 keeping them competitive with the other brands. You'll find many runners are Saucony fans as the shoes are high quality and can handle a lot of mileage.
While UA doesn't offer a huge array of running shoes, their entrance into the market hasn't been subtle. Trying to compete with Nike, they've created a flashy shoe ranging from $100-$130. Some have noticed that a few of UA's running shoes even look like Nike's. I haven't tried UA, but I have heard good things from multiple runners. Maybe I'll give it a try next.
Runners can shell out some serious $$$ on watches and gear. I'll be honest and say I don't use a fancy water bottle, hydration belt, or any of that good stuff. It's not for me. If you do use it, that's great, and those companies sincerely thank you. That being said, I don't feel qualified to talk about those products, so I won't. Feel free to give us some feedback on your favorite stuff.
As far as watches go, here's what I can give you:
Garmin is the market leader, and it's easy to see why. Look at the variety, options, features, and quality. Garmin offers watches ranging from $100-$600, so there's something for everyone. Just take your pick. Take a look at the Garmin Forerunner 10 if you want just the basic GPS watch (I love this watch by the way), or look at the Forerunner 620 if you want everything. Want a heart rate monitor (HRM) that doesn't require that annoying chest strap? Check out the Garmin 225. It's pretty sweet - hopefully they'll add new colors soon.
Polar offers some pretty cool watches as well. Like Garmin, Polar offers multisport watches with Smart Coaching functions. Ranging from $200-$500 Polar devices are easy to use according to Polar fans.
Starting in the $100 range, Soleus offers some cool looking watches. Many of Soleus' watches offer 8+ hours of battery life, which is great for many runners.
Like Garmin, TomTom now offers a GPS watch with a HR monitor built in - so need for a bulky chest strap. Hooray! This allows for optimal heart rate training. Ranging from about $100-$200, TomTom offers a quality product that isn't too difficult to use.
Ranging from $80-$250, Timex is a well known brand. Offering basic functions on the lower priced Timex Ironman RunX20, Timex has been able to produce a product perfect for a new runner who isn't sure what they want in a watch quite yet. Then, you have the Timex Ironman One GPS+ which boasts, well, everything.
Socks are super important. Here are our favorite brands
Okay - so, now that we've dished on some of our favorite gear, tell us about yours! Oh, and enjoy the photos of some of the gear below. Happy running, and enjoy your weekend!!!
Who Picks the Topics?
Each week, we notice different things. We try to incorporate the questions we are receiving or the training issues we are noticing into our post(s) for the week. If there is something you'd like us to cover, let us know!