Here’s how to choose the right clothing and accessories for running.
If you don’t have the right clothing, you’ll be uncomfortable when you run, and then you won’t run at all.
Not all of this stuff is necessary (it’s perfectly fine to start out wearing a t-shirt and old gym shorts,) but some of it will really enhance your running experience.
You’ll want some Coolmax shirts and/or singlets. Coolmax and other synthetic fabrics transport moisture away from your skin keeping you cool and dry. Cotton t-shirts are ok, but there are much better materials that wick sweat away. If you wear a cotton t-shirt, it will get soaked with sweat, leaving you very uncomfortable.
I have a personal preference for clothing, especially shirts, made by Terramar. Some of their stuff is expensive, but you can usually find it really cheap if you browse SierraTradingPost.com, which has all sorts of running stuff really cheap.
Other popular brands for running tops include Nike and New Balance.
For women, a sports bra is essential. That’s why we have a complete guide to sports bras for running.
Running Shorts and Tights
Athletic shorts are fine, but if you run a lot, you may prefer some smaller, running specific shorts. Your legs will be free to move how they want. The shorts are also very lightweight and cool (temperature wise, at least.) These shorts usually have a mesh liner, so you don’t need to wear cotton underwear which would probably cause chafing.
If you don’t mind showing some leg, running shorts are more comfortable than the basketball shorts most people wear at the gym.
Also grab some spandex tights for cool weather. You should have your knees covered if it’s below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Having your knees exposed in cold weather can lead to some pretty bad joint problems; at the very least it will hamper your ability to run with proper form. This is especially problematic if it gets warm but there is still a bit of snow on the ground. In that case, your upper body might get warm from the sun, but your legs will feel the cold coming from the snow.
Plain old wind pants are an alternative to the spandex tights if you’re not concerned with speed. They’re also great if you don’t like spandex! Lined wind pants may be necessary in the winter depending on your climate – unless you just run inside.
Cheap wind pants can be found for $10 or less.
Running Socks and Accessories
Get some good Coolmax running socks. Maybe even wool, which is great for cooler days. Contrary to popular belief, the wool socks these days are comfortable and great for sports. Get ones that come up to your ankle, too. You don’t want the back of your shoe to rub away the skin on your heel.
(Here are some pictures of what can happen if your socks are too short.)
A fleece earband for cool weather is a must. All extremities should be covered in cold weather, with your ears being top priority. I couldn’t live without my fleece earband.
You may want a head band to keep sweat out of your eyes when it’s really hot. If you wear contacts, it would be a really good idea. There are some thick, terry cloth headbands and some thin coolmax head bands. Either kind will work.
Caps are nice when it is really sunny or raining. Keeping the sun off your face is healthy – it will prevent future skin cancer and keep you feeling cooler as you run. I usually wear sunglasses too, because you can actually go blind from getting your corneas burnt. Mainly though, sunglasses keep me feeling “fresher” longer since my eyes aren’t straining or squinting.
If you go to a specialty running shop, you’ll probably pay a fortune for this stuff. I recommend checking eBay for great deals or shop the clearance racks. You probably won’t notice the difference between last year’s shirt and this year’s shirt.
And don’t forget about online deals sites like SierraTradingPost.com, LeftLaneSports, RunBargains, etc.
(Remember though, you should definitely go to a specialty store to be sure you get proper fitting shoes.)
Next up, proper nutrition for runners >>