Essential Equipment: Foam roller
Getting started as a runner doesn’t involve a lot of gear. Sure there are GPS watches, heart rate monitors, and apparel that warms you up or cools you down. But none of that is really necessary to run. Once you’ve got a pair of running shoes (that are functionally appropriate for you), you’re pretty much good to go.
If you’re going to get more than just a pair of shoes, I would highly recommend making your second purchase a foam roller. Not only will it help you run faster, train harder, and get injured less, it’s also inexpensive.
If you haven’t used one before, a foam roller is essentially a self-massage tool. It uses your body weight to dig into your IT-band, your quads, your calves, or back. As you roll back and forth, you break up the adhesions that can form in muscles when they repair themselves (check out YouTube for examples). Getting those adhesions broken up helps your muscles “glide” more efficiently, which in turn reduces the chance of injury when you’re stressing the muscles in training.
Working a foam roller into your routine doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, either. If you roll 5-10 minutes after each run you’ll be more aware of potential problem areas and stay ahead of a lot of injuries. I usually find I feel much better the rest of the day and the next day after rolling, as well.
So consider your shoes step one for getting out the door, and get yourself a foam roller for step one when you get back from your run.