A lot of people propose that running is the cheapest exercise — those people have probably never stepped into a running store.

Fancy-shmancy watches, moisture-wicking technical soft shell jacket, foam rollers, headlights, compression sleeves — there’s a lot of sophisticated gear you can buy as a new runner.

But what do you really need? Let’s get down to basics.

3 Things Every Runner Needs: What does a new runner need? It's simpler than you think.

3 Things Every Runner Needs

1. A Pair of Shoes

This is that steep first investment that is difficult to get around.

3 things every runner needs - checklist imageYes, you can probably run a few times in those old shoes from your closet, but if you’re struggling with any aches and pains in the knees, ankles, legs, back… you need to invest in some running shoes. They can be the difference between a painful run and a runner off to a great start.

If you have around $120 to blow on a pair on shoes, I recommend going to a specialty running store. They can analyze your gait and the wear patterns on your current shoes to help you find the right pair. These stores often have generous return policies to make sure you end up happy.

If you don’t have that kind of money now, just make sure you aren’t running in your old yard work shoes that are flat and floppy. Invest in something with a little spring. Check out: Is it Time to Replace Your Shoes?

2. A Goal

Becoming a runner isn’t about getting decked out in the coolest gear, it’s about having something to work toward.

Some runners like to register for races. They love to run with (and/or against) others. Others don’t like to race, and prefer the solo journey.

Don’t aimlessly run around. Have a purpose. Those with goals are more likely to keep running.

Check out: I Just Finished Couch to 5K. What’s Next?

3. A Plan

3 Things Every Runner NeedsOnce you have your goal, you need to plan how to get there.

If your goal is to reach a new distance, how are you going to reach it? If your goal is to run more often, how are you going to do it?

Outline what days you’re going to run and what you want to do each of those days. This will help you move forward and keep you motivated. Remember to add in rest days for the complete package.

I’d be happy to help you with any plan you’re creating (shoot me an email) or check out my custom plans here.

(4. A sports bra if you’re female)

And really after the shoes, the sports bra, the goal, and the plan… everything else will fall into place.

You can slowly invest in the “right” socks (I haven’t yet), the measurement tools (still haven’t pulled the trigger on a GPS watch), the recovery tools (got a lot of those!), and everything else as the need arises.

Running isn’t cheap, but it’s simple.

Decide on your goal and your plan to get there. Lace up your shoes and go get ’em.

I’m rooting for ya!

Do you have all three essentials?

*This post is part of the January New Runner Series. Check out the tag “Newbie” to see all the posts and download the New Runner Essentials ebook for free.*