This gear might actually make running suck less

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For those of us who swore by our gym or fitness studio (raises hand), COVID-19 has forced us to get resourceful. Many of us are making do with dumbbells and other home equipment — but sometimes, an at-home workout is the last thing we want to do after staying home literally all day. When it comes to staying fit, sane, and socially distant, running is pretty much the only exercise we can do right now. Here’s our running gear guide to help you or a loved one start, or continue, a running habit that can make it easier to cope in these turbulent times.

The barely-there sneaker

Created to be supple, lightweight, and responsive, the Fresh Foam midsole in these New Balance kicks make you feel you’re gliding. A mesh exterior allows your feet to breathe, while a sturdy heel helps you feel supported. Both the men and women’s versions come in five just-flashy-enough designs.

The runner's throwback sneaker

With their bubbly, retro design, these road shoes are a throwback to the 70s, when roller rinks and bellbottoms were all the rage, and the US experienced its first running boom. But Hoka rounds out the vintage aesthetic with ultra-modern technology focused on speed, including a combo of various foams for responsiveness and stability, and carbon fiber plate curls for a fluid stride.

The weightless shorts

Hit the trails and feel good doing it in these comfy, durable shorts from Brooks. DriLayer fabric prevents snags even after high-mileage days, and sweat-wicking mesh keeps you nice and breezy down there. Discreet, water-draining pockets ensure your energy pack, phone, keys, or what-have-you stay safe and dry. Slim-fit, with a chafe-proof waistband, these come in four earthy colors.

The high-tech sneaker

These unisex slip-on sneakers feel as avant-garde as they look, with a satin elastic embossed strap and sleek silhouette that will no doubt draw some envious stares. But the design isn’t all for show — it’s functional, too. The TechLoom Bliss is feather-light, and the APL’s Propelium material generates energy and absorbs shock, all while maintaining a cushiony feel.

The futuristic shades

Nothing ruins an otherwise amazing run than having to squint to keep the sun out of your eyes. Protect your peepers with these Oakley shades, made with Prizm lenses engineered for maximum visibility and contrast. They come in six designs, the better to coordinate with your fit.

The classic shades

Prefer something more understated? Krewe’s got you covered with its vintage-inspired Laborde shades, made with polarized lenses, 50% organic plant matter, and a 240-degree grip that keeps them from sliding off your (hot, sweaty) face. You can buy them in three neutral-hued designs.

The meditative runner's sneaker

This pair isn’t for the wham-bam-thank-you-m’am type of runner. Its Guidesole technology aims to reduce energy loss so a 10-mile run feels more like effortless coasting. Designed to support your ankles and heels, the shoe is ideal for chasing that runner’s high, even if it happens several miles in.

The quintessential headphones

Nothing propels you through a grueling run quite like a beast mode playlist; listening to it on these wireless, noise-cancelling headphones can make you feel even more in the zone. Not only do they have runner-friendly ergonomic ear cups and venting, they last up to 22 hours after a full charge.

The stay-in-place leggings

If these leggings can stand up to a hot yoga class (they can), they’ll wick your running sweat like a boss. Plus, the high waist and 4-way stretch feature ensures that they won’t shift or bunch while you’re running.

The socks

There are few things as elusive as the perfect, no-show athletic socks. All too often, no-show socks end up being too flimsy, too thick, or, worst of all, too slouchy. Thankfully, Hoka One seems to have cracked the code. Lightweight yet structured — with seamless toe articulation and arch support — their socks give you the comfort you need to carry you through the home stretch.

The anti-chafe balm

Speaking from personal experience, chafing while running is the worst. Body Glide is a balm you apply on your inner thighs, armpits, pecs, or any chafe-prone areas, creating a dry, protective coating over them. Think of it as an unsexy lube, reducing friction from skin-on-clothes or skin-on-skin contact. Plus, it’s plant-based and allergen-free. An absolute must for my fellow thick-thighed runners, especially when shorts season rolls around.

The compression gear

Compression gear is designed to reduce muscle vibration and fatigue, as well as increase circulation. For some runners, in particular, sleeves such as this one can make both running and post-run recovery a lot of more manageable.

The cross-trainer

A true running routine isn’t actually all about running. This sneaker is the go-to for jogs, pre-cardio weight training, and post-run restorative work. The renaissance sneaker, if you will, has ample cushioning, and is great for indoor workouts.

The warm-up jacket

A pre-game essential, this wind- and water-resistant crop jacket is designed for women, but is really perfect for anyone who finds it crucial to look good running, even before they start.

The windbreaker

Just because your running route doesn’t include South Beach doesn’t mean you can’t channel that balmy, white-linen energy. This lightweight, retro-style jacket is ideal for springtime jogs at dusk.

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