Buying Shoes and Other Running Kit

One of the advantages of running compared to some other sports is that you don't need to buy much kit. You do need a pair of shoes that is right for you and, if you are a woman, you need a proper sports bra.

Whenever possible, go to a specialist running shop (see our list of running shops which give discounts to Serpentine members.) You'll get a better selection, and good advice. Support running shops rather than the big chains. You may want to see a podiatrist.

What sort of shoes to buy

There is no such thing as a "good brand" of shoes, or a "best model". Every runner is different in the way they run, and different running shoes are suitable for different running styles. It is quite possible that a £60 pair of shoes would suit you better than a £100 pair. provides reviews and information about most running shoes on the market.  

Most of the population "over-pronate" – that is, they roll their foot inwards too much. Many running shoe models are designed to prevent this – these are shoes that promote "stability" or "motion control". There are different degrees of over pronation, and different shoes act in different ways to prevent it.

There is no substitute for trying several different models, from several different brands, to see which model works best for you.

To buy suitable shoes:

  • go to a specialist running shop (see our list of shops which give discounts to Serpentine members.) Don't go to a general sports chain. You need an experienced shop assistant to watch you run in different models to see how they affect your running style.
  • go during the week when the full time staff are there – they will usually be more expert than part-time Saturday staff. Try to go when the shop is not going to be busy (avoid lunchtimes) so that the staff have time to help you.
  • try the shoes. Don't just put them on, but run up and down the street in them. You need to feel comfortable in them, as well as be reassured that they have the right degree of stability for you. If the shop won't let you do this, go to one that will.

Will your old trainers do?

Probably not. They are unlikely to have sufficient support, and (assuming they were bought with fashion and utility in mind rather than running) are unlikely to suit your running style.

How long will running shoes last?

That depends a bit on your running style. Running shoes can last anything from 300 to 800 miles.

You will be able to see when your running shoes are past it when the midsole loses its bounce (you often see signs of stress on the outside of the midsole). A good running shop will tell you whether your shoes have more miles in them or need to be replaced.

Do I need a sports bra?

Even women with a very modest bust should have a sports bra. Running without one is often uncomfortable. The ligaments which support the breast can be stretched and damaged by running, resulting in permanently drooping breasts. You may have to try several different brands until you find one that is comfortable and does not rub your skin too much.

What about "technical" running gear?

Apart from shoes and a bra, all you need to run is a t-shirt, shorts and socks. You don't need to spend a lot of money on special running gear.

That said, as you run more and more, you may want to buy one or two technical t-shirts. These are clothes (marketed under names such as "DriFit" from Nike or "ClimaCool" from Adidas) which take water away from the skin, and which stay relatively dry. Cotton t-shirts can become waterlogged quickly, whereas technical clothes remain comfortable for longer. Technical gear is, however, expensive, and you most certainly do not need it at first. You might promise yourself a DriFit top when you run your first race!

Are there any other accessories?

Oh sure, if you want to spend some money you can buy everything from heart rate monitors to GPS watches, from water bottles to reflective vests. You don't really need any of this stuff, however. You can always buy it later if you get more and more into running.