If you’ve ever felt the electric energy coming from a cheering crowd on race day (or even just seen an emotional Instagram post about a runner’s journey) then you know there’s just something about the running community that inspires people to start thinking, “Maybe I could run a race, too.”
Manuel Velasco has been in your shoes—literally. When he first started running in 2021, he could hold a consistent pace for only about a half mile at a time and, frankly, didn’t enjoy it. But once he joined Chicago-based run club Tortugas, which is powered by Nike Chicago, his passion for running was ignited.
Less than two years later, he’s run two half marathons, a handful of 5k’s, and is training for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8. “This journey has truly been life changing, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world,” Velasco says. “Yes, long runs are grueling and training is hard, but I always come out a stronger person. I’m grateful for every single person who’s encouraged me to keep going and who’s ran with me in the back of the pack.”
Feeling inspired already? If you’re thinking about signing up for a race or even going on your first run, you’ll need to stock up on a few running essentials. Here are nine running essentials Velasco and fellow marathon runner and GumboFit run club captain Jamie Campbell recommend to support your journey. Because the running community is nothing if not supportive.
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Nike InfinityRN 4 Road Running Shoes — $160.00
Unsurprisingly, both Velasco and Campbell say that a good running shoes are key to crossing the finish line. The new Nike InfinityRN 4 are made with supportive cushioning for a smooth run, thanks to ReactX foam that will keep you feeling fresh and bouncy no matter how many miles you’re clocking.
Vaseline All-Over Body Balm Jelly Stick — $7.00
Dealing with chafing is basically a rite of passage for long-distance runners, but you can get ahead of it by swiping on some Vaseline pre-run. “I swear by the Vaseline stick because I chafe in summer on my collarbone, and in the winter I use it to protect my face from the cold air or windburns,” Campbell says.
Nike Spark Lightweight Running Crew Socks — $18.00
Once you’ve got your cushioned sneakers on deck, you’ll want socks that are just as comfy. Whether you prefer a pair with extra padding like Campbell does, or you love that barefoot feeling (like these lightweight, sweat-wicking Nike socks) find a base layer that will keep your feet happy.
Hyperice Hypervolt 2 — $199.00
Looking for relief from sore running muscles? This massage gun is basically a portable deep-tissue massage. “As I’ve gotten deeper into training and my miles started to ramp up, my legs started getting sore,” Velasco says. “I invested in a massage gun and it’s been a game changer and has helped me recover better from my runs.”
Garmin Forerunner 55 — $200.00
If you want to track your progress over time, Velasco says a Garmin watch is a must-have. “My most favorite feature is that it saves all of my data from my runs so I can see how much I’ve improved throughout the training cycle,” Velasco says. Added bonus? You can connect your Nike Run Club app to the watch to share your workout data.
Nike Dri-FIT AeroBill Featherlight Training Visor — $28.00
Stay cool and shaded no matter the time of day you choose to run by taking Campbell’s suggestion and grabbing a lightweight visor, like this classic one from Nike. “I always wear a visor to protect my face from the sun and keep my hair pulled back,” Campbell says.
Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro — $250.00
If you’re the type of person who can’t work out without music, then you know the importance of great headphones (and a playlist full of bangers). These sweat-proof earbuds were made for athletes, thanks to their surround sound, durability, and nine hours of listening time. Pro tip from Campbell: Wear only one earbud on race days so you can stay aware of your surroundings (and hear the crowd cheer).