The answer to this question is pretty straight forward, but there is some info that can and should be said here. I will start from the top down by going over general types of clothing and clothing options. There are a lot of different brands and options to choose from. My whole goal for writing this is to help inform you of the different options that you have when it comes to choosing running gear to help fit you and your needs.
Everybody has different preferences though when it comes to running gear. Some people don’t care what they wear, they’ll just wear a simple pair of running shoes, gym shorts, and an old baggy shirt. Others you will see wearing top of the line running gear, the newest and most expensive running shoes, etc. I typically like to keep my running wardrobe simple. 1inch/split running shorts, a quality pair of running shoes, gps watch, hat, and sometime a waist pack for carrying my phone if I decide to bring it with me.
For the sake of this article, I will keep things simple and keep the focus on clothing such as hats, socks, shorts, and shirts. Shoes will be a discussion for another day.
• Hats: These are what I believe to be the most underrated piece of running gear/clothing. I almost always run with one and they provide a multitude of benefits. I know some people however aren’t the biggest fans of hats, so for them I would recommend a visor. All the same benefits but open at the top that way you can let your head breath a little better and so that it works better with your hair style. Below are a few reasons why I recommend running hats and some things that I look for when selecting one.
– Help protect your face and eyes from the sun.
– Protect your face from the rain.
– Most running hats have reflective properties which is always important and can attach lights onto them for added visibility.
– Running hats are breathable and thin to help with keeping you cool and out of direct sun light.
– Help to keep sweat off of your face.
– Keep you warm in cold weather.
> When choosing a running hat, I always make sure it is light and breathable. This will help to keep your head cool and not hold in heat while wearing it. I also like to make sure they have reflective properties that way it helps me to be more visible which is obviously very important. Hats are the easiest piece of running gear to buy and can last you for years when taken care of properly.
• Sunglasses: Sunglasses, much like hats, are pretty underrated. They can be a tremendous help, especially if you’re somebody who has eyes that are sensitive to light. These don’t have to break the bank either. I will typically go to my local sporting goods store and see what they have on sale. Finding running glasses that fit me properly can sometimes be a bit of a struggle, so I typically will keep things simple here. Make sure they fit right, and will do an adequate job at allowing you to not only see, but protect your eyes when you run during the day.
– Help protect your eyes from sunlight. Definitely recommended but hats can also help with this.
• Shirt: Lots of options and styles here. The main pieces of advice that I will give here is to make sure it is a light and breathable material. There are a few basic styles when it comes to running shirts/tops as well such as singlets/tank tops, short sleeve, and long sleeve. These are pretty self explanatory. Singlets are a little different however from just regular tank tops. These are usually worn for races. So when you see the pros running on TV or your local high school cross country runners crushing PR’s in their local 5k, they’re almost always doing it in a running singlet. These tend to be a little lighter and are designed in a way to fit the body a little better so that they don’t get in the way of your racing so that you too can crush your PR.
-It should help with wicking sweat away from the body to help keep you cool and shouldn’t way you down.
– When its cold, there are long sleeve options out there and materials for cold weather. So be sure to dress accordingly and remember that as your run, your body temperature will rise.
– Some shirts and materials may cause chaffing, be sure to be mindful of this when picking out shirts.
– Ensure that the shirt has some reflective properties. We want to make sure we are doing our best to allow for the other drivers/pedestrians to see us, especially when the lighting outside isn’t the best.
• Shorts/Pants: This is very much a personal preference. I personally prefer the shortest running shorts that I can find. I prefer to run in 1inch shorts, 3 inches at most. My other favorite alternative is compression shorts. Second only to running shoes, I believe these are the most important pair of running clothing/gear that you can get for yourself. A good pair of shorts can last you a long time, help you to be comfortable mile after mile, aide in your visibility to help others see you, and take you that extra step towards that new personal best.
– 1inch/Split shorts: Allow for optimal mobility without any added weight, restrictions, or anything. These shorts are as simple in design as they come. Typically feature an inner lining, one small key pocket, and a large split along the material on the sides to ensure maximum mobility.
– 3inch: Feature a 3 inch inseam rather than a 1 inch inseam. Don’t typically feature as large of a split as previous shorts, sometimes feature extra pocket in back. Typically features an inner lining.
– 5+ inch: These shorts will range from 5 inches, 7 inches, or even up to 9 inches in length. These don’t typically offer as much mobility as the 1 inch shorts, however these will usually have more pockets and are great for hiking, holding your cellular devices, any snacks, or anything else you might need to carry with you on your run.
– Compression Shorts/Compression leggings: Can be found in a variety of lengths. For women can be anywhere from 1inch inseam all the way up to full length leggings. For men are typically 7 or 9 inch. These fit tight to the body and can assist with blood flow. Some will features pockets. The effectiveness of these are debatable and comes down to personal preference. I will typically wear either 1inch split shorts or compression shorts. These can be great for hot weather and are offered with thicker materials which are great for colder weather.
This is just the basics when it comes to running clothes. Every company is going to have their fancy terminology for their fabrics, some will have crazy high prices saying that this new jacket is better than all others, etc. The most important thing to know when purchasing running clothes is to make sure you know your budget, they fit you and your running style, and that when taken care of, they can last you as long as you want. Hopefully this is able to help point you in the right direction and be sure to comment on what some of your favorite running clothes are and why you like them.