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Hit Your Stride With the Best Spring Running Gear and Tips

Spring is here and for all the runners out there, it's warmup season: That time of the year when the weather gets nice enough to run consistently again. Whether you've gotten through the cold months on a treadmill, by limiting your time and distance outside, or just by not running at all (it happens to the best of us), you are once again liberated to be the best runner you can be. To help you get the most out of your warmup season, we put together a list of the best spring running gear and tips.

As winter's bite melts away it is time to take long deep breaths of that sweet spring air while you get your stride back. We've laid out the basic gear you will need and how to get the most out of it. Keeping in mind that running is a very personal activity, finding exactly the right gear for you will optimize your experience. This list highlights the items that our editors prefer but it will also walk you through finding the best items for yourself.

Brooks Running Ghost 13

Brooks Running Ghost 13

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NIKE Performance Cushion Quarter Socks

NIKE Performance Cushion Quarter Socks

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Tracksmith Session Jacket

Tracksmith Session Jacket

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New Balance Accelerate 5 inch Shorts

New Balance Accelerate 5 Inch Shorts

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Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones

Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones

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A used pair of Brooks Ghost 13 on the road.

Brooks Running Ghost 13

When you are choosing running gear, it all starts with the shoes. Running is a full body exercise that engages everything from your core down to your toes. All the energy that your body creates in the process gets directed through your feet as they hit the ground, over and over again. Wearing a pair of running shoes that fit properly and provide the support you are looking for makes all the difference.

Finding the right fit for your running shoes is more complicated than just picking the right size. You need to consider the height of your arches because without the proper arch support you will experience pain and risk injury. You need to consider the width of your toes because you will need room in the toe box for your toes to splay out as you push off in order to get the most effective force in every step. You need to consider if your feet pronate - when more weight is placed on the inside of your feet - or if they supinate - more weight is placed on the outside of your feet.

These physiological factors dictate small design details that running shoe companies consider even though most runners are unaware of them. Most running shoe companies provide a guide to these factors on their website and any running shop worth entering will be able to measure them for you.

Finally, you will need to decide on the ratio of cushioning, spring, and feel that works best for you. Essentially, the longer the distance you plan on running each time, the more cushion and spring you will want to have. Short distance runners, especially those running in fast bursts, will want more feel.

Our Pick: The Brooks Ghost 13 provides the ideal balance of cushion and spring while staying lightweight and durable. They have a wide toe box and strong arch support to maximize balance and push-off in every step. They work for every distance but are ideal for a steady diet of four to seven miles each run.

Brooks Running Ghost 13

Brooks Running Ghost 13

A set of white Nike Performance socks against a white background.

NIKE Performance Cushion Quarter Socks

Even though your shoes are your most important item of running gear, you will still need the right socks to get the most out of them. Not any old pair of simple of athletic socks will do. You need extra stretch in the midsole to move with your feet and extra cushioning around the toes and heels to avoid blistering.

Socks designed specifically for running will reinforce all the high friction areas of your feet to provide extra protection. They will also be extra absorbent to deal with all the sweat built up during a good run. You can tell a good running sock when it is thicker than usual and extra thick around the heel and toe, usually with elastic ribbing around the mid-foot and ankle.

Our Pick: Nike started out as a running shoe company and they've perfected the running sock with their Performance line. The quarter length will provide extra sweat absorption.

NIKE Performance Cushion Quarter Socks

NIKE Performance Cushion Quarter Socks

Tracksmith Session jacket in navy blue with a blank background.

Tracksmith Session Jacket

When running in the spring, you have to be prepared to face a wide variety of weather conditions. Winter departs many areas of the country begrudgingly, coming and going like waves in a receding tide. Spring can be wet and gloomy one day then sunny and beautiful the next. So a runner will need to face the elements with layers.

Hoodies and lightweight raincoats or windbreakers are useful but the best layering piece for spring running is a light jacket with a full zip closure. Traditionally called a track jacket, they were designed for running with minimal weight, maximum mobility, and easy removal. Ideally, they will have a mock turtleneck to help retain body heat when fully zipped.

Our Pick: Tracksmith is a company started by avid runners for all runners with a dedication to top quality and performance. The countless miles of running experience accrued by their design team is evident in their Session Jacket. It's a top-quality, no-frills track jacket that does everything you need it to do while looking subtly stylish.

Tracksmith Session Jacket

Tracksmith Session Jacket

New Balance Accelerate running shorts with a 5 inch inseam in navy.

New Balance Accelerate 5 Inch Shorts

After braving the cold in leggings and pants for months, there is an exhilaration to liberating your legs once spring arrives. Sure, it may feel a little too cold for shorts sometimes but once you've committed there is no going back. Running just feels better in shorts and better still in the right shorts.

Most running shorts are especially short. Generally speaking, the faster and longer you plan on running, the shorter your shorts should be. However, there is no rule dictating the length of running shorts beyond not wearing anything uncomfortable. If you're not a short-shorts guy then don't wear them. Some guys are more comfortable with a 7-to-8 inch inseam while some guys feel restricted in anything longer than 5 inches. Go with the shortest length you're comfortable with so that you can get in the right headspace to enjoy your run.

Our Pick: New Balance created their Accelerate line for optimal running performance. The Accelerate shorts and ultra light weight with a 5-inch inseam and an internal pocket for your keys and cards.

New Balance Accelerate 5 inch Shorts

New Balance Accelerate 5 Inch Shorts

A set of white Powerbeats Pro in their case.

Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones

Some very serious runners won't listen to music while they run, they're purists who find music as a form of cheating. For pretty much everyone else, music is quintessential to the running experience. A strong, up-tempo rhythm with help you keep your optimal pace. An uplifting chorus will provide a boost of adrenaline just when you need it. Most importantly, listening to music will keep your brain distracted from any fatigue and discomfort you're inflicting on the rest of your body.

When you're listening to music literally on the run, you need high performance headphones that deliver quality sound in a durable package. You do not want to skimp on your headphones because cheaper models will break much sooner and end up costing you more in the long run. Water resistance is key not only to protect against sweat but also any unforeseen rain that tends to sneak up on your in the spring. Running also subjects headphones to much more kinetic damage than you realize from unintentionally drops and the constant motion of your body.

Our Pick: The Wireless Powerbeats Pro from Beats provide an impressive depth of sound and intense base for in-ear headphones. They're sufficiently water resistant and durable. And you don't realize just how annoying the wire connecting your earbuds was until it is gone.

Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones

Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones

Spring can never come soon enough for runners. Running not only improves your physical strength, it improves your cardiovascular system, it improves your breathing, it improves concentration and mental endurance, and it also releases chemicals in your brain that help you relax and reduce stress. So all those benefits are sorely missed when running is cut back over the winter. Finding the right gear for your body and your needs will make all the difference and allow you to get out there as soon as possible.

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