Source: Jane Grates | 3/12/18
Among the many other reasons why running is so fantastic, in general, it's a sport that doesn't require much in the way of gear. Unlike other sports that typically necessitate loads of expensive equipment and even more in the way of hours of specialized, personalized instruction, in general, running is pretty low-key.
All of that said, however, there are definitely some gear essentials that runners -- particularly runners in Texas -- would greatly stand to benefit from using. They may be more 'creature comforts' than anything, but if it means the difference between enjoying, and looking forward to, your run versus not doing it, then by all means, I'd say investing in some 'creature comforts' is worth it.
Below, I'll describe some gear essentials for running in Texas. I'll add in some of my own personal recommendations, but by and large, you have a lot of latitude in deciding what you want to use. My suggestions are merely for the basics.
Gear essentials when running in Texas include the following:
Headlamp and other safety accoutrements, like safety vests. Everyone knows that the humidity in Texas can make life really challenging, and most runners will agree that running through the heat and humidity in Texas can be really, really tough. With that in mind, I'd recommend that if you can safely do it, try running at night or at dusk, when the sun isn't at its hottest. Of course, in order to run safely during not-well-lit conditions, the onus will be on you to basically make yourself as visible as a lit-up Christmas tree. There are loads of headlamps and other safety accoutrements on the market, ranging from inexpensive options to ones that would seemingly warrant a small mortgage, so you can make the choice that's best for you. I'd recommend the Black Diamond sprinter headlamp (expensive but well worth it, in my experience), a safety vest, and possibly even knuckle lights.
Hat or visor. Wearing a hat or visor is key when you're running in Texas during the sunny, hot, and humid daytime hours. Doing so can help protect your face from the sun's harmful rays, and you may also find that it helps you stay cool. For runners with long hair who wear it up in a high ponytail, wearing a visor can enable you to still keep your hair pulled back high while wearing some sort of protective head/face covering. If you want to spend a little bit more money, consider wearing a hat or visor that's made from wicking materials, instead of cotton, so that the sweat gets pulled away and doesn't simply pool on your head.
Sunglasses. Closely related to the above point about wearing a hat or visor to give you protection from the sun, wearing sunglasses is a must when running during the daytime hours in Texas. Sunglasses are actually more than a vanity item because they protect your eyeballs, and all the muscles that make up your eyes, from the sun's damaging rays. Here, too, there are tons of options available on the market, depending on how much you want to spend. You can drop a pretty penny on a brand like Oakley, which is sports-specific, a lot less money on the trendy Goodr sunnies, or simply spend a couple bucks at the drug store on something disposable that'll do the job.
Sunblock. Again in the name of protecting your skin from the sun, wearing sunblock if you're running in Texas during the daylight hours is a no-brainer. The sun is hot, regardless if you're running on a clear blue sky, sunny day, or if it's windy, gray, and cloudy. There are so many different sunblocks available on the market, so do your research before committing to using one particular brand over another. If you're going to be running for a long time, be sure to remember to reapply because even the best brands will come off when you're getting super sweaty. Many people don't realize that a sunburn is just that, an actual burn, and that tons of time spent outside can dramatically increase your risk for skin cancer. It's just not worth it; play it safe, and slather up every time you go outside, even for your short runs. The Texas sun doesn't mess around.
Lightweight clothing. It may be a personal preference ultimately, but many runners prefer to wear loose and lightweight clothing when it's really hot and humid outside, as it is in Texas nearly all the time. You may feel the opposite -- you may prefer the tight, Spandex variety -- and that's ok. What's most important is that you wear clothing to run in that makes you feel comfortable and that doesn't inhibit your ability to move. Many runners -- arguably, most runners these days -- swear by only wearing wicking clothing, clothing made from non-cotton materials that pull the sweat away from your skin, but again, that's personal preference. Do some trial and error and figure out what you like most.
Lip balm. Just as your skin can burn easily from the sun, so, too, can your lips. Protect them with any number of different types of lip balm available on the market. Many of them also have some degree of SPF protection and can also be helpful on days when it's super windy outside.
Anti-chafing creams or ointments. When you're sweating a lot while you're running, you'll want to do what you can to minimize blistering or chafing that you get from your sweaty clothing. Lots of runners swear by body anti-chafing creams and ointments like Body Glide, and they apply the creams liberally to their bodies anywhere there is a seam on their clothing that would touch their skin.
Non-cotton running socks. Blisters are the devil when it comes to running, and one of the most surefire ways to get a blister when you're running is by allowing moisture to get trapped in your socks. When the moisture (read: sweat) simply sits there, it rubs relentlessly on the skin of your feet, and the friction is what ultimately creates blisters and chafing (read: a ton of discomfort and pain!). One way to mitigate the blisters and chafing is by wearing non-cotton socks, and again, a lot of runners swear by moisture-wicking, technical fibers socks. There are tons of brands out there, at varying price points, so experiment to see what works best for you and what feels most comfortable.
Hydration vest. Last but not least, when you're running in Texas, you'll need to ensure that you are adequately meeting your hydration needs. There are multiple options available on the market, with everything from handheld bottles to water bottle vests, and just like with everything else gear-focused, there are tons of varying price points, too. I personally really like the Jenny vest from Ultimate Direction because it's ergonomically designed for women, and it's really lightweight and doesn't bounce. Whatever you do, though, be sure that you figure out a way to bring or carry water on your run so you can stave off dehydration.
Texas can be a fantastic place to run, and there are tons of great running routes and races available to you year-round. Having the right gear can mean the difference between a good run and a run that doesn't happen, so hopefully these gear pointers will ensure the former.