If you like to run, chances are you already own running shoes. But have you given as much thought to your running apparel? The clothes you wear can improve your long-distance running experience, even when you’re running close to home. And when you’re traveling, carefully chosen running apparel can make it easier and more comfortable to run in a climate you’re not used to, whether it’s really hot or freezing cold. Stowaway asked Danny Moody—a manager at Runner’s Corner in Orem, Utah, and a long-distance runner for more than 15 years—to offer his expert advice on the most essential running apparel. Here are Moody’s top picks.
The base layer is the most important part of your running apparel because it’s the closest layer to your body. In warm or hot weather, the base layer is the only clothing you wear. One if its main purposes is to help get rid of moisture and to prevent chafing.
Chafing can occur when clothes become wet and rub against the body. Cotton shirts are not a good choice for running apparel because they are heavy, hot, and absorbent. The best running shirts are made from synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, or spandex blends. These materials wick away moisture from the body, reducing both friction and chafing.
“An essential that people don’t immediately think of is technical underwear,” Moody says. He recommends Brooks Runderwear®. He also explains that “for girls, a breathable sports bra is a necessity.”
For marathon-length races, products such as Bodyglide® balm “help reduce chafing in the places where you definitely don’t want to chafe,” says Moody.
If you are prone to leg injury, compression socks are a worthy investment. They provide muscle support to pre-vent (or treat) shin splints and increase oxygen delivery to the leg muscles and venous return to the heart.
The best legwear has two layers: a spandex compression liner and an outer lightweight short or skirt layer made from synthetic materials. The compression liner in legwear reduces the chafing that comes from the thighs rubbing against each other during a run.
When you run in cold weather, it is important to wear layers. Wear your regular base layer to provide compression and wicking, and then add more layers of clothing for warmth.
Over your base layer comes the thermal layer, which consists of a long-sleeve shirt made from slightly heavier, warmer fabrics. An alternative to wearing this extra shirt is to wear compression sleeves or arm warmers, which often have the added bonus of pockets for keys, phones, or iPods. For windy or rainy weather, add a shell layer, which is a paper-thin water-resistant jacket. Some runners actually use a trash bag for the shell layer because it is cheap and easy to discard, but it is decidedly less stylish.
A runner’s pack or belt provides an easy way for you to carry your phone, keys, or water with you while you run.
Gloves and Hats
Gloves and hats are a must for protecting fingers and ears when you’re running in cold climates.
There are two options for thermal legwear. The first is a pair of running pants worn over shorts. “Running pants are semi-fit at the waist and tight at the ankles. They can create an air barrier around the legs and ultimately keep you warmer,” says Moody. The second option is a pair of running tights worn beneath shorts. Since they are skintight, they are lighter than pants and can help with blood circulation. The only drawback is that they are less resistant to cold.