Beyond the Shoes

The running essentials you never knew you needed

When you walk into Fleet Feet, you often weave through the many racks of “other stuff” to get to the shoes. But what you might not know is all of the "other stuff" you’re dodging can be just as important. Here’s the skinny on a few essentials you probably never knew you needed.

Sun Protection

If you're a midday runner, it means you face an increased risk for sun damage. Consider this: if you spent six hours on the beach, you probably wear sunscreen. However, if you run for one hour, you may not wear any. But, if you run one hour per day for six days, it means you’ve been exposed to six hours of sun damage … just like if you went to the beach all day sans sunscreen. Now, multiply that times every day that you run throughout the year. Scary, right?

Before you lace up and head out, apply sweat-proof sunscreen that won’t come off as your run heats up. Want to elevate your sun protection? Wear UV-protective clothing. Not all clothing blocks out harmful rays, though, so be sure to check the tags and talk to a store associate to find what you need.

A woman wears a pair of running sunglasses


Now that you know how to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, it’s time to think about your eyes. Yep, your eyes are just as susceptible to sun damage. And chances are you aren’t giving them the attention they deserve.

Did you know it’s possible to get skin cancer on your eyelids and even on your eyeballs? If this isn’t enough reason, wearing sunglasses helps you avoid squinting, which relaxes your face and body to save energy on the run (plus, think about wrinkle protection!). Save your eyes and wear UV-protective sunglasses when you run in the sun.


Sports Bra

Ladies, this section is for you. A sports bra is used to reduce bounce while running or doing any form of physical activity, which is important because bounce can tear Cooper’s Ligaments and tissue used to hold up breasts and help them keep their shape. Tears can lead to back pain and bad posture. Choosing the right sports bra makes running a lot more comfortable, especially if you have large breasts.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right fit, though. Here are a few hints:

1. Your level of activity determines your level of impact. If you’re doing a calm sport such as yoga, you can usually get away with a low- to medium-impact sports bra. If you’re running or biking on the other hand, a high-impact bra is necessary to effectively contain the bounce.

2. Find the right size. Most sports bras come in a band size and a cup size, similar to regular bras. Make sure you know your size because you could be wearing the wrong size and not even know it; most women are.

3. Sports-bra-specific care is a must. For maximum support, know how to wash your sports bra properly and replace your sports bra every six months to a year with regular wear.



You wouldn’t leave your car without oil, so why leave your body without nutrition. A balanced hydration and nutrition plan is essential, especially in summer or fall when you’re running through the heat or kicking up a new training plan.

Every time you run, you lose electrolytes and water in the form of sweat, all of which needs to be replenished. You can prepare for this by drinking water with electrolytes before a run. That’s because the electrolytes sodium and potassium help to regulate the body by controlling how much liquid is in the muscles. So, consuming them pre-run will help you better prepare for the loss ahead. Plus, dehydration can cause muscle cramps, dizziness, decreased performance capacity, headache, mental deterioration and more.

If you’re running for more than an hour, consider adding nutrition in the form of energy gels or chews for immediate, targeted energy release. Aim to consume about 100 calories of mostly simple carbohydrates every 30 to 45 minutes for sustained energy. Then, after your run, return to sipping on water and electrolytes for faster and more effective recovery.


Hydration Systems

Whether you’re out for a multi-hour adventure and need a hydration pack, or simply want a handheld-water bottle that you can easily fill up at water fountains around town, now that you have your nutrition plan, you need a way to carry it. Plus, the extra pockets allow you to carry more essentials like your phone, keys and even your wallet (anyone thinking about a run commute now?).

A runner uses an Addaday massage tool on her leg

Massage and Injury Prevention Tools

How you take care of your body after a run is just as important as how you prep your body before a run. During a run, your muscles break down, which is why they’re sore the next day. Proper recovery practices help ease the soreness.

Take off your shoes and change into recovery footwear after a run. This helps your feet breathe and allows increased blood flow, which is important since your feet swell inside your shoes while you run (the longer you run, the more important this is).

Compression socks also help move lactic acid and increase blood flow to further aid recovery. Pair them with 10 to 15 minutes of rolling out on a foam roller or digging into knots and sore spots with another massage tool for optimal recovery.


By Allie Parker. Parker is a rising senior at Virginia Tech where she studies Political Science, Pre-law and runs marathons.

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