Mark Armstrong: The running gear that I wouldn't be without

Mark Armstrong in the warm-up for the Lord Mayor's 5K. Picture: Epic Action Imagery

Mark Armstrong in the warm-up for the Lord Mayor's 5K. Picture: Epic Action Imagery - Credit: Epic Action Imagery

It’s been a turbulent year but one of the few benefits has been people discovering the benefits of exercise for both their physical and mental wellbeing. 

Whatever form that takes can only be a good thing and of course running has become a cornerstone for so many in getting through a rough year. 

Even those seasoned runners have perhaps been taken by surprise by how vital the sport is in their lives but I love it when you see newcomers discover how great running can make you feel. 

Some of my friends have even turned to me for advice and it’s not usually about training (I’d have to ask Neil!). It’s normally about what kit or devices I use so with that in mind I thought I’d let you know about the key running accessories I use and it might even form a nice Christmas wish-list for you. 

So here are my top five running ‘things’ I wouldn’t be without... 


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Trainers 

It goes without saying but you need something decent to put on your feet. Yes, they can be expensive, but you get what you pay for. The higher the price normally means the better foam and technology in the shoe to keep you comfortable. I overpronate slightly, which I discovered after having my gait analysed. With that in mind I always buy trainers with some support and take advice on this. I normally rotate two or three pairs of trainers during my training – never let anyone tell you that you’ve got too many pairs of trainers, you don’t need that negativity! My favourite at the moment are the On Cloudstratus but I’m also very comfortable in my Hoka Gaviota 2 and Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 (there’s now a 21). For those that don’t over-pronate, or ‘neutral’ as they say, then people swear by the Brooks Ghost and the New Balance 1080s. 

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GPS watch 

Any GPS watch worth having will link to your phone so it’s a great way to help log your training. The market is saturated so it’s worth thinking about exactly what you are going to use it for. If you just want to log your miles, know your average pace, and put it in Strava then you can get really good deals around. If you want to have maps on your watch and plan your routes through that then you may need to spend a bit more. I’ve got quite an old version of the Garmin Forerunner 245 and it does everything I want it to do.  

Running belt 

I find this the best way to carry my phone and keys with me. I know that some people don’t want to take a phone with them in particular but from a safety perspective you should be taking it with you when you’re out, especially during the winter. Invest in a decent running belt that fits well and you won’t even notice that you’ve got it on. The Naked Running bands are really good but like everything to do with running it comes down to comfort and it’s worth trying one on before you buy if you can. 

Gloves 

I’ve always got cold hands. The mercury on a thermometer doesn’t need to drop very far for me to reach for my gloves and I couldn’t care less if that makes you question my masculinity! Jokes aside, it’s worth having a good pair of gloves in the winter and, again, you get what you pay for. The colder it is the better quality gloves you’re going to need. I’ve got a pair of Sealskinz at the moment and I’m really pleased with them although I’m still bitter about another pair I stashed on a rare occasion I got too hot only to find someone had pinched them when I returned...  

Jacket 

It’s a bit of an art knowing what to wear on your run in the current weather and everyone is different. The best advice is to layer up and perhaps go a mile warm up near your house and dump anything you can if you’re getting too hot. It’s helpful to have an all-weather jacket to protect you from the elements. I’ve got a Ronhill Core Jacket which has the added bonus of being fluorescent, keeping me seen and safe for those early morning and late-night runs. 

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