Essential Running Clothes – 8 Important Things You Should Know Before You Run Outside
When running outside you are actually going out and about and will have to fulfil two purposes – working out and looking good! So what are the necessary running clothes that will make your run comfortable AND will make you look absolutely sensational? Let’s check them out!
Every epic running journey starts with awesome shoes
As a new runner, resist the urge to buy your first good shoes on your own and without any assistance. Go to a specialist shop and ask for gait analysis. The staff will be able to help you choose the perfect pair according to your needs, i.e. feet. Top brands and high prices do not always translate into the best quality for your feet so try as many shoes as needed until you find a pair that fit and feel perfect.
Never compromise with shoes – no good run can be run with bad running shoes. Don’t forget to ask how many miles they were designed to cover – a shoe will lose its quality over a period of distance and may lead to uncomfortable running, even injury, so be aware of its limit.
There is some other good stuff that can be put on your running feet!
There are specialist running socks for all types of runs! Good socks will prevent sweaty feet and blisters and you will feel an immediate difference when you find that blissful pair that works for you. There is no ultimate choice, just pick what you like and what feels best.
Do I need regular shorts, or long/short technical or compression tights, or tracksuit bottoms? Those running clothes decisions…
Some run in regular shorts no matter what weather but the majority of runners wear shorts when it’s warmer and long tights when it’s colder. Some will run in tracksuit bottoms. They may not be the most comfortable option as you can get really sweaty, which may or may not feel right – choice is yours.
You can choose to wear those regular, cheerful shorts, or opt for tight compression shorts, which are quite useful when it comes to chafing prevention. During long warm summer runs I always wear compression shorts under my regular shorts. The compression shorts serve as moisture-wicking underwear, a little trick that makes those sweaty runs much more comfortable.
You will also notice that some runners (myself included) wear regular wide shorts over long tights in the winter for no other reason but to try and look cool, thus creating a definite fashion statement and a badge of individuality. Match the colours right and your looks will be mint glamour. Remember, you are going out after all!
When it comes to summer running tops then bright, loose, airy and comfortable is the key!
When running in warm or hot weather you will need either a vest, a t-shirt or a sports bra. Available choices are mind-blowing so start to narrow them down based on quality – in the heat wear proper comfortable running tech tops that wick away moisture rather than a cotton t-shirt which will get soaked within minutes – not exactly the look that you’re after. You will need something that is airy and breathable and can be either short sleeved or sleeveless. It’s important that it’s quick drying and sweat wicking as well as light-weight.
I tend to avoid dark colours in high temperatures as they absorb heat. Focus on bright and cheerful looks instead!
Running tops when it’s cooler, colder, cold and wet
Autumn and winter running is about correctly layering in what can be very disagreeable weather. Instead of a single heavier top, you will be better off with two or three lighter layers to keep the body heat between them, and as you warm up during the run you can remove a layer to prevent overheating. Search for good technical run clothing for colder days. It moves the sweat away from your skin leaving you warm and comfortable – otherwise wet skin could make you feel chilly, which is not ideal on a cold and windy day.
Alright, so how do I know how many layers I would need? And what are they?
Check the outside temperature first and consider the wind chill factor as well. Basically, always dress up as if it’s 10C warmer simply because you will warm up after a few minutes of running and you don’t want to overdress and overheat.
So, if it’s 10C outside, it will feel 20C when you hit your trails. You can run in your snazzy shorts but may wish to wear tights if you decide to run really slow. Wear a single long sleeve running top but do experiment – I normally wear a short sleeved tech t-shirt with a basketball jersey over it. Style, above all, is everything for some. Consider a light waterproof jacket if it’s likely to rain – you can always tie it around the waist if not needed.
Following the same principle, if it’s 5C out there, it will feel like 15C when you are up and running In most circumstances it is wise to get a good base layer and a very light long sleeve top. I still wear my basketball jersey on top of the long sleeve base layer. Colours are important on a dull cold day, they can cheer up all spirits! Shorts can still be an option but I tend to edge towards my tights/shorts combo in those temperatures.
Once we get to 0C (that feels like 10C) it’s time for warmer gear. Now it’s tights or compression tights time, with a tech base layer, a long sleeve top and/or a weatherproof jacket (still legal to wear shorts if you fancy that). Mind, I only ever wear a base layer and a jacket to avoid overheating. I don’t wear an additional top – and yes, you can overheat even in those temperatures if you run fast. If really windy I would wear a head cover as well as gloves. You can always take them off once you warm up.
And finally, below zero requires proper winter running leggings, a base layer AND a long sleeve top as well as a weather appropriate running jacket, complete with head protection and gloves. Don’t forget to cover your ears if it’s really biting out there!
It seems to be raining out there, should I wait it out? Or should I take an umbrella?
Erm….I wouldn’t necessarily carry an umbrella on a wet run. Running in light rain, especially when the weather is mild and warm, is quite good fun. You will get wet through a good workout anyway so a few drops of rain can help cool you down.
Some like to wear lightweight waterproof jackets but you are likely to get really sweaty underneath, even more so when the temperature is higher up. In the winter I wear a wind/waterproof jacket with just a single base layer underneath in order to prevent overheating, but if there is heavy rain falling, bordering on sleet, I choose to wait until it’s gone. If you get soaked in low temperatures and are not close to a warm shelter, things could get cold and nasty so it’s better to stay on the safe side.
Do I need to complete my looks with some memorable headgear?
Most of us can run without a cap in fine weather, as long as you stay away from hot, direct sun. But what better way to complete a runner’s fashion statement than some eye-catching headgear in case you need it.
I prefer a comfortable cap with a peak to shield my eyes from the sun or drizzle, with dri-fit lining around the edges, a cap that is ventilated and fast drying. All you need to decide on, as always, is the design, price and colour. However, those who don’t like caps in warm weather may go with a cool visor, keeping the head ventilated and eyes covered.
During winter months, and especially if the wind is biting, I wear a skull cap that I pull over my ears for added comfort. On the other hand, some runners will prefer a simple headband to cover their ears and leave the top of the head open. Try them all, test them, feel them. Like any other piece of your gear, it is meant to serve you over a period of time, so take your time deciding.
We need those basic essentials, various bits of running gear, to make our running experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Always decide what’s needed first, try and choose only what’s best for you. Once all is in the right places, you are guaranteed to enjoy not only your running but your new cool looks as well.
I hope that sharing my story, and what I have learned along this journey, will inspire you to get started and to keep going. To keep striving and being the best you can be. In running and in life.
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