In many sports, you can tell who's serious by how much fancy gear they're decked out in. Among runners, the opposite is true. It's a simple sport in which having a bar and beverage service strapped around your waist is purely optional.
My greatest gear moment came in 1994, when I bought my first ultralight, quick-dry T-shirt. Since that day, I have not run in a cotton T-shirt, because the difference in comfort is so significant. They now cost less than $20.
Lightweight running shorts are also a big step up from denim cut-offs. The make-or-break feature for me is a small pocket that can carry a key, a $20 bill and, as my mother has been reminding me for 20 years, a piece of identification.
Completing the summer wardrobe is a hat and non-slipping sunglasses.
The same principles apply for winter clothing: Layers of lightweight, breathable material are infinitely more comfortable than cotton and waterproof shells. Personally, I wear enormous fleece mittens to keep my circulation-challenged hands warm and a very thin balaclava under my tuque to cover my neck and chin.
Tech-wise, I wear a low-end digital watch. I have a heart-rate monitor, but haven't used it in years. No GPS for me - if I want to know the distance of a loop, I check it on Google Earth.
And, despite the recent hype about going barefoot, I wear a good pair of running shoes.
Alex Hutchinson is a former member of Canada's long-distance running team.Report Typo/Error