It’s taken me a while to become someone who enjoys exercise – the mental scars from school PE lessons lasted well into my mid-twenties and put me off the idea of going anywhere near any activity which would necessitate wearing lycra. So now that I’ve finally found the fitness things which work for me, I want the experience to be as comfortable as possible in order to not be scared off again! My activities of choice are Ashtanga yoga and running, and these are the kit items I find essential to keep me enjoying what I’m doing and not finding excuses to give up!
The right trainers – I’ve already written about this in a post with tips for new runners, but I could not run without trainers which are right for my feet. I started to, and my knees protested a lot. Now I have trainers which work for me, and I know they are keeping my feet supported and not contributing to injury. I currently run in Asics Gel Kayano 19 (but I really need to get a new pair soon – the general recommendation is that you should replace shoes after around 500 miles, but I usually need to replace mine earlier than that, usually when they start to feel a bit too soft, the soles are worn and a feel a little twinge in my knee…).
Something zipped – I don’t want to have to carry anything around when I’m running, so it’s essential for me to have some type of unobtrusive zip pocket to keep house keys in (usually on the back of my waistband).
Separate keys for running – My usual keyring has a selection of random things attached to it (keys to various places, keyrings, library card, yoga card…), so it’s too bulky and jingly to run with, and it’s annoying to have to take off the keys each time I want to run. So it’s much simpler to just have a separate set of spare keys with no extra accessories that can just be zipped up and out of the way.
Sunscreen – At the moment, most of my running is done during the day, and generally before I’ve done things like had a shower and put on any skincare products (I’m not going to pretend that means it’s in the morning, I work from home a lot and mornings are generally pyjamas/laptop/duvet…). So I’m often exposing my untouched skin to direct sunlight for a sustained period, and I wouldn’t want to ever do that without knowing it was protected. My trusty Avene Factor 50 Emulsion is usually the only thing on my face when I’m running.
Dual-lined socks – I wear Hilly Twin Skin socks to run in, and haven’t had a blister since I started using them (even during a half marathon) – the two layers of fabric rub against each other rather than your skin.
Fleece headband – In the winter, I don’t run without one of these. I am a totally overheating runner and can happily head out in shorts and vest in January, but my ears get sooo cold and sore! My Sweaty Betty fleece headbands are my absolute winter saviour – my ears stay toasty warm and as the top of my head isn’t covered the rest of me doesn’t burn up! They’re also great for wearing under ski helmets to keep ears snug on the slopes.
Clothing which doesn’t move around – When I’m on the mat, I don’t want to be distracted by waistbands that need pulling up or loose tops which fall over my head in shoulderstand, so clothes which are comfortable, supportive and pretty much stick to my body are what I go for. I’ve just fallen in love with my new bargain Marika Tek leggings from TK Maxx (£15!), but unfortunately my taste in tops is currently a bit more pricey – my Amala top from Lululemon is the most comfortable item of sportswear ever (but I have a sneaky feeling they’re about to discontinue the style!).
Sticky towel – I used to hate downwards dog because my hands would slide all over the place, but now I have my wonderful sticky yoga mat towels everything stays in place. The extra benefit is that it’s a barrier between me and the studio mats – my yoga studio’s mats are pretty OK but it’s still good to know I’m not touching other people’s sweat – eww. The towels I use are from Sweaty Betty. A little tip for using these – make sure you wash without fabric conditioner to keep them as grippy as possible!
Nail polish! – OK, maybe not the most yogic of essentials… But I’d much rather see perfectly painted toes in a forward bend than be distracted by chipped polish.