The greatest thing about running is the low "getting started" cost, but here are a few things that are essential if you want to progress to distance running and competing or just want to avoid injuries. Your training bag is your best friend, so what should it include?
1. Road ID. I made this first because it is so important and often forgotten. You need some type of ID on your body for the one time you pass out, get hit by a bus, or just fall off the curb and hit your head. If you think it doesn't happen, read the papers. One year at the half-marathon in Dallas, several runners got hit by a car on their way back to their cars. Some kind of ID will help the EMTs find your family. I recommend the kind that is attached to your running shoes so you never forget it. Make sure the phone number is current! I've never needed mine in 30 years of running, but it only takes once.
2. Two pairs of running shoes. I always recommend you have two pairs of shoes that you rotate unless you are running less than 15 miles per week. The midsole material often takes almost 24 hours to rebound and frankly the shoes take time to dry out. Wet shoes equal fungus infections. Buy two pairs of either the same and mark A and B or buy a stiffer shoe for your longer runs and a lighter shoe for your short stuff and speed workouts.
4. Shirt or Tank. Preferably a moisture wicking technical shirt.
5. Socks. There is a whole chapter on socks, but remember cotton is not your friend! Buy several pairs of synthetic moisture wicking socks so when you lose them in the dryer or your kid steal them because they are comfortable (Yes. My daughter loves my running socks!) you still have some to run in.
6. Sports Bra
7. Hat. Mesh or visor, whatever your preference. Hats keep your head warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
8. Water bottle and carrier. Get the kind with a pocket to carry your cell phone and a little money as well as your gels.
9. Nutrition. This can be Power Bars, gels, new jelly bites, electrolyte replacement, or really whatever your heart desires. There will be a day when you skipped breakfast or lunch and need some fuel before you run. You should also carry some type of nutrition when running over an hour.
10. Body Glide. Everyone chafes sometime no matter how thin you are!
11. Sun screen. Melanoma kills 35 year old runners...enough said.
12. Sunglasses. Too much sun causes macular degeneration!
13. Heart Rate Monitor and watch
14. iPod or MP3 player. This is for the days your friends blow you off or leaves you in the dust. It happens.
15. Towel. To dry off or to protect your car seat from your sweaty body. Your family will thank you.
16. Tights or sweats and gloves for those unexpected cold days
17. Extra set of clothing (for the days you forgot to clean out your bag and the clothes are dirty, it happens - our lives are full)
18. Plastic Bag for the stinky stuff
19. Toilet Paper or tissues for the sniffles and the port-a-john that's out of tissue
20. Money. Have about $20 or so in your water bottle carrier just in case you're having a rough run and need to take a cab home or just want an ice cream cone!
Put all this in a nice bag in the trunk of your car. Carry it every day. That way you are always ready to go and have eliminated one excuse entirely!