Welcome back to the running gear blog series! Hopefully you enjoyed part 1 where we talked all about running shoes (if you missed it, go check it out afterwards). In this part, I will be discussing what to wear on your run, common running clothing and wearable technology. Ok, here we go!
What to wear on your run:
The running community has had all sorts of styles ranging from fuzzy tracksuits, tight and bright spandex, short-shorts and performance racing gear. Realistically, there’s not a “wrong” way to dress for your run, but there are definitely certain materials and items that are much preferred over others.
Things not to bring on your run are dependent on you, but my simple rule is: If it’s not required on my run to keep me warm/cool, visible, or safe in case of emergency, it’s probably not needed.
The bare basics for your run include shoes (which we’ve talked about in part 1), shorts/pants/tights, socks, and some kind of shirt/top. Add-on’s to this list include a running jacket and gloves if it’s cold or wet, a hat and/or sunglasses if its sunny, running belt, sports-bra if it applies to you, and any wearable tech you like to use such as a watch, phone, headphones etc. Let’s break these down in a bit more detail.
The most valuable advice I can give when selecting running clothing is to wear moisture wicking material. This rule goes for undergarments, shorts, athletic pants/tights, shirts, jackets, and socks. Basically, you want any material touching your skin to wick away sweat and allow it to better evaporate without holding on to all the moisture.
When it comes to sizing (and depending on your personal comfort level), select more fitted clothing that has some stretch to it and avoid restricting your normal movement. Baggy clothing tend to get in the way and add some extra weight that you have to carry around on your run.
If you’re not sure if you will be too cold, wear layers that you can take off along the way to maintain a comfortable body temp during your run. My tip for choosing what/how much to wear is that it’s usually best to feel slightly cold at the beginning of your run. You will heat up pretty fast once you start moving. If you’re warm and comfortable before starting the run, you’re probably over-dressed.
If you have the option, look for those moisture wicking items that have reflective material on them, every little bit helps to keep you visible, especially in the evenings when it gets dark.
AVOID COTTON SHORTS AND SHIRTS! They absorb and hold on to moisture, get heavy, won’t smell great, and may chafe your skin if there’s too much rubbing.
Although not a clothing selection tip, it is just as important to change out of your sweaty clothes after your run/workout ASAP. This prevents any bacteria and/or sweat from sitting on your skin for too long and causing potential irritation…gross, but important. Don’t forget to wash your clothes after each run.
That all being said, work with what you have, and if it’s not working, then you can consider purchasing something that works better for you.
What about all the wearable technology?
Watches & Fitness Trackers:
Wearable technology has come a long way from the classic stopwatch. Phones, and certain watches and fitness trackers can record your run distance, speed, heart-rate, and map your run all via GPS…amazing!
GPS Watches such as Garmin, Polar, Suunto, and Apple Watches tend to be the most popular. I personally use a Garmin Forerunner 230 GPS watch (without a wrist HR monitor) and it works great for running, hiking, cycling (both indoor and outdoor) and is waterproof. I can’t speak specifically to the other brands since I haven’t used them, but heard many positive things. It’s more a matter of what you like the look of, can it track what you want, and is it in your price range.
Non-GPS watches & fitbits are great starting places if you’re on a budget. Anything with a stopwatch feature on it will work for timed runs. Just start your device, and turn-around at the half way time!
In the end, watches aren’t necessary. If you’re into technology and can afford it, they can be great training tools, but similarly to the shoes, fancy tech will not make you a better runner
There are so many great apps out there to support your running, track your distance and progress, and allow you to connect with the virtual community. These also aren’t necessary, but if you love data and feedback like myself, it’s pretty cool technology that can help your training and keep you motivated along the way.
Nike Run Club App (free) – a great app I used last year while training on my own, it has pre-programed coaching tracks for different runs, distances, and goals. It’s an easy to use app that also tracks your activities and keeps you motivated along the way.
Strava (free) – is probably the world’s most popular fitness tracking app, super easy to use and allow you track your activities, connect with others and support your friends by giving them “kudos” on their activities.
There are many running apps out there (I have only tried/used the two above), so try a couple out and see what works best for you.
Other Popular Gear
Running Belts – These are optional, but can be very handy! Like the rest of technology, it has upgraded from the days of the fanny-pack! Lately I’ve been using the minimalist SPIbelt to carry my stuff with me. It’s an discrete narrow elastic waist band that has a stretchy zip-pouch to keep your phone, keys, a gel/bar, and ID/card in without it bouncing around in your pockets. It’s also great option if your running shorts/tights don’t have any pockets!
Headphones – Again, optional. If you choose to run with music great! If not, also great! I do like music or the Nike Run Club app tracks when running alone or on longer runs, but if you spend more time and effort fixing your tech than actually running, don’t bother with it.
Headlamp – If it’s going to be dark out, it’s a good idea to be able to see where you’re going while also keeping you visible and safe. There’s all sorts of brands, sizes, and prices. Find one that works for you, or just avoid running in the dark.
To summarize this second part, here are some take home tips:
Wear moisture wicking clothing to keep you comfortable and prevent chaffing, AVOID COTTON!
Make sure you are visible on your run. Bring a headlamp and wear reflective clothing if running at dusk or in the dark.
Dress for the weather. If you’re warm and comfortable before starting the run, you’re probably over-dressed.
Wearable technology including watches, headphones, and apps are nice to have and fun to use, but also completely optional. They are NOT required to run, but can give you valuable training feedback.
If you spend more time and effort fixing your tech than actually running, don’t bother with it.
HAVE FUN! I know I’ve said that before, and I’ll continue to say it over and over again: Running is such a great way to stay fit and enjoy all the beautiful outdoor scenery no matter what skill level you’re at!
Stay tuned for the third post in this 3 part series where I’ll cover a couple more key items to bring on your run, how to get connected in your local running community and tips on where to find all this running gear!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What clothes should I wear for running in cold weather?
Cold weather, especially cold and wet weather requires a bit more thought that throwing on your favourite shirt and pair of shorts. Breathability is still the name of the game as you won’t want to start overheating without the ability for that moisture to wick to the surface of your clothes and evaporate. A good base-layer (merino-wool or technical fabric), running pants/tights, a windbreaking running jacket (or rain jacket if it’s wet), technical wool or polyblend socks, a toque/headband (something to cover your ears), and gloves to keep your hands warm. Cold weather running is all about layering appropriately and staying dry. As we move into spring temperatures, dial back the layers and change to some lighter weight materials as the temperatures increase.
How often should I wash my running clothes?
Wash all the clothes you wore after every single workout, regardless if you didn’t sweat a lot. Washing away sweat and odor causing bacteria transferred from you skin to clothes, will keep your clothes smelling better for longer, prevent buildup of bacteria in the clothes, and avoid unnecessary skin irritation. If you absolutely can’t wash your clothes immediately, at least let them hang dry out in the sun using UV light as a natIf you are worried about your running clothes getting worn out too quickly from excess washing, try laundering those items together using a sport specific detergent that is gentler on clothes combined with a more delicate wash cycle setting.
Are running socks necessary?
Honestly, this is a personal preference, but it’s much more common to wear them than not. Socks provide an extra layer between your feet and your shoes that can help wick away moisture from the foot, prevent rubbing or blisters, and keep the foot cool. Like most running clothing, choosing a sock designed for running and made of technical fabric will be your best bet. Please, avoid those cotton socks! Though running socks may be a bit more expensive, it’s a small price to pay to keep your feet comfortable.
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