When I decided several months ago that I was going to run a half marathon, I started googling what I needed to buy and I really couldn't find a comprehensive list of the must haves. I didn't want a list of a million things I could buy; I wanted a list of the things I had to have. I am not an expert. I am just like you. Someone who set a goal and achieved it. Someone who went from walking a couple times a week to completing a half marathon. So, without further ado, here is A Beginning Guide to a Runner's Must Haves. ((I haven't been paid a penny from any of these companies to advertise; this is my honest opinion and review of what I use.))
In my opinion, there are five things you MUST have.
1. Shoes. You must, must, must have good shoes! I suggest you go somewhere where they'll fit the shoes to you, watch you run in them, and really work with you to get you in a shoe that works with your body. I went to Fleet Feet and they fit me with Brooks Ravenna 4's. You always want to buy a shoe that is a half a size-full size bigger than what you wear normally.
2. A watch or arm band for your phone to track mileage and time. I chose to go with a sport armband for my iPhone. You'll need a timer app (if you're going to do interval running) and an app to track your mileage. You can download any of the following apps for your phone: "Nike+," "Map my Run," "Run Keeper," or even "Endmondo"
3. Some way to bring water with you on your runs. I bought a Nathan hydration belt that had two 10oz bottles. For my long runs, I added a third bottle. I LOVE this hydration belt. There are a million other options for hydration belts, hydration backpacks, and handheld water bottles for runners if you don't want to wear something on your waist.
4. Body glide. I had to wear this underneath my armband for my phone - because it chafed after about mile 8. If I wore body glide, I didn't have any problems at all. You can put this ANYWHERE you have any rubbing/chafing at all. This is seriously a miracle in a stick. Side note: the women's body glide is more expensive for some weird reason and it is EXACTLY the same. So buy whatever's cheaper.
In terms of clothes, here's what you'll need:
1. NON-COTTON socks. Seriously. Do not wear anything with cotton in it as it will rub and give you all sorts of blisters. You may have to hunt for these and look for them in the athletic socks section, but they are a must.
2. Some sort of non-slip headband. I actually wear two different types. I wear one when it's warm that is designed to hold my hair back away from my face when my hair is in a ponytail and then a thick cotton one that goes over my ears when it's cold.
3. Moisture wicking pants. I have long pants and capris because I hate to run in shorts. But if shorts are your thing, find some moisture wicking ones that don't rub (if your thighs rub, you can use body glide to prevent chafing). Just find a pair that works for you!
4. Moisture wicking shirts. I hate to run in sleeves (even in the cold weather), so find what works for you. Do NOT wear cotton. You will rub, chafe, and have sweat marks all over you.
5. A good sports bra. If you go to fleet feet, they will actually fit one to you. I am lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) that I am small chested and can wear the bras that are inside the tanks I run in. If this is not you, GO AND GET fit. You shouldn't have to wear three bras to feel comfortable. Again, do not wear cotton. You want to wear one that is designed to be worn for working out (moisture wicking).
I hope that helps some of you who want to start running and don't know where to start!
UPDATE: I ran my second half marathon! For more tips, click HERE.
UPDATE 2: I ran my third half marathon! Find out about it HERE.