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To Splurge or Save on Fit Kit?

Mar 16, 2016 | Kit, Running | 15 comments

Splurge or Save on Running Kit

Back in the day, a pair of black Topshop leggings and an oversized t-shirt used to be my gym uniform (when I did actually go to the gym). I wish I had photos of us bundling into the car at uni to go to the gym…and then to the McDonald’s drive through on the way home.

I wish I was joking.

One time we couldn’t find a parking space at the gym so we just went home. Luckily I’m a little more diligent with my workouts now, and opt for a recovery smoothie rather than a milkshake.

Fitness gear has moved on a long way since then too. Lots of high street chains have jumped on the fitness bandwagon but their quality is often not up to the same standard as speciality workout wear. So when is it worth spending your money on Lululemon, Nike or Sweaty Betty, and when can you get away with a high street stash?

What fitness kit to spend or splurge on? The Runner Beans


If you’re just an occasional gym goer you can probably get away with buying a lot more from the save list than the spend list, however if you’re out running miles and miles, or hitting the gym with regularity, it might be worth investing in these items;

Trainers – number one on the spend list. A decent pair of trainers, fitted for your gait, will not only help prevent injury, but could also improve performance. A great way to save money is to buy last season’s shoe, the fit will be almost identical, but the colours might be out of fashion 🙂

Sports Bra – After you’ve spent part of your pay check on your trainers, take a little more and invest in a couple of sports bras. Get them properly fitted by a specialist – you can always try the right ones on in person, then google for discounted versions online, there are often great deals to be had!

Leggings – No-one wants to show too much through their leggings, or to spend their workout hoisting your bottoms up. You don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds on Lucas Hugh, but paying a little extra for a great fit is worth it, particularly if you’re going to be training for a marathon in them. I’d spend a little money on a decent black pair, then buy some fun, cheaper patterned leggings for gym time. My absolute favourites are Lululemon – and they last for years without losing their shape!

Socks – they may seem minor, but wear the wrong socks during a marathon or half marathon and you will regret it. Cotton socks are not the one, they retain moisture and can cause blisters. You’ll want a blend of polyester/synthetic material to wick away moisture. You don’t need to spend too much, many brands produce great socks for little £! My favourites are Feetures.

What fitness kit to spend or splurge on? The Runner Beans


Tops – in the same way you should avoid cotton for your socks, you should also give it a miss for your tops, both short and long sleeved. Opt for something that will be sweat wicking, and that doesn’t cut in anywhere (this should avoid chafing).

Jacket – surprisingly for this big ticket item, you don’t need to spend a lot. It’s actually more important to be wearing appropriate layers below, as long as your jacket is windproof, waterproof and breathable, your jacket doesn’t need to cost a fortune. H&M, Ronhill and Adidas have some great affordable options.

Shorts – I’m not fussy when it comes to shorts, as long as they’re not too tight or too short, they do the job. If you’re using them in the gym it might be wise to choose a pair with an inbuilt liner, otherwise something lightweight and comfortable is perfect.

Gloves – Unless you have very severe circulation issues, I’d recommend getting a couple of pairs of gloves that you can wear on runs and to races, and ditch them if you get too warm. I stocked up at the Primark sale last year – a great decision!

Fitness tracker – with so many awesome free apps now available, you don’t need to spend a fortune to track your run. If it’s wearable tech you’re after, the sales and Amazon are a great place to buy last year’s model, or pre-loved watches. There are also some great GPS watches available out there for under £50- like the Timex Ironman Rugged 30.

What fitness kit to spend or splurge on? The Runner Beans

Photos by Will Patrick


  1. Hannah

    By ‘ditching’ your gloves I hope you don’t mean putting them in the bin! I thought people were a lot more waste-conscious these days. If my hands get too hot in gloves, I just tuck them into my leggings. Or carry them. No excuse really for chucking away perfectly fine gloves (even if they are cheap).

  2. Mrs B

    I love those leggings, but I think they definitely come into the splurge category? Are they worth it?

    • charlotte

      Yes I LOVE them, but definitely a splurge!

  3. Scallywag (@ScallywagSprint)

    I mostly agree, but shorts I think you can’t go too cheap or they rub like crazy! I wear mostly Nike shorts 🙂

    • charlotte

      AH yes you’re right, although you can get a decent pair for under £20!

  4. knitnrun4sanity

    You do have to be careful with last seasons trainers as there have been occasions when the tweaks have meant that one year were very different and often didn’t suit those where the previous version had. I like to get my gait analysed, buy a pair of expensive shoes and then stock up online.

    • charlotte

      Good idea – and haven’t found that with previous models of trainer but I guess I’ve just been really lucky!

  5. Samantha @ What's Up, USANA?

    Those leggings are awesome!!

    • charlotte

      Thank you!!

  6. Natalie

    My number one splurge for fitness gear is absolutely leggings! I’m such a sucker for the high-waisted look, and now that it’s trendy, I’ve found myself with way more leggings than I need! At least it means I don’t have to do laundry as often 😉

  7. David

    One of the key differences between high Street fashion and say Nike, is the material and quality.

    When running several times a week and constantly washing clothes, Nike never gives up, infinite washes later and its still looking good and reforms it’s shape. Doesn’t even have to be the expensive stuff.

    Good shoes are necessity if you plan to exercise a lot and want to stay committed, comfort is enjoyment!

    Good running underwear is also key or if you have good quality tights you can possibly go without.

    Some other tips for cheap places to buy are the Nike and Adidas clearance/ factory outlets dotted around the UK where stock can be crazy cheap.

    Karrimor offer some decent gear too, their socks are cheap but very good!

  8. Steph

    Socks would be my surprise “splurge”. I love the Nike dri-fit socks. I have never ever had a blister in them and they’re so comfortable. I think I have a pair of Hilly socks too (not sure which ones) that are nice and thick on the soles. Being larger chested, I have literally no option but to splurge on bras, which is a good thing really.

    • David

      The whole thing with running is about feeling good, that’s largely about comfort and even feeling like you look good..all helps with the PMA!!

  9. Natasha (@danceflowlift)

    Totally agree, I cannot save on leggings, I have to go for the best quality as teaching with my back to the class most days, see-through leggings cannot be worn. Every time I try a cheaper brand, they end up going straight back after some stretches in front of my mirror!!
    Natasha | Dance Flow Lift

    • David

      I think once you’ve ran a bit and decide you like it, your kit becomes a reflection of how serious you are….from type of trainer to colour co-ordination….

      That’s not to say some of the most talented people have some of the most basic kit, but we can all dream of being better.

      Running in particular is all about “you” as an individual and we all have our own journey’s- so we should choose how we dress for that journey.

      I’m obsessed with the Nike discount stores, so many bargains! Thank the Lord they exist as it means my wardrobe is expanding at a (relatively) reasonable price!


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