Running Clothing Basics

Most of us have been running for quite some time but when the weather starts to change, we all need a refresher course on what to wear. Plus, the manufacturers of clothing make improvements each year and so now is the time to upgrade your wardrobe—out with the old and in with the new. Today, I will cover some basics that you should consider when buying running clothing and choosing your outfit for the run. First and foremost, it is extremely important to purchase clothing that was designed for running. If you do, it will most likely encompass all of the basics. Let’s get into some of the details below.

Wicking material – Probably THE most important thing to consider is the material that the clothing is made from. You want to choose clothing that is made of wicking material and might also be called “technical” fabric. What does the material do? It keeps moisture away from your body so that you don’t get overheated in the heat or freezing in the cold. It also dries quicker than fabrics like cotton. Technical clothes are mostly lightweight and stretchy so that they will fit your body well.

Light reflection/bright and light colors – Most clothing that is designed for running will have reflectors placed in strategic areas so that you can be seen if you are running in the dark like we do! Also pay attention to color. Purchase bright or lightly colored fabrics. In the summer, you want to wear light-colored garments so that sunlight is reflected. Bright colors will help drivers see you while you run on the roads.

Compression – This is not a necessity but can greatly help you on your runs. Compression clothing is available in shorts, tights, shirts, socks and sleeves. Wearing compression clothing stimulates circulation and pushes blood back to your heart while adding warmth to the body. It helps with muscle containment and vibration and reduces swelling.

Hard shell/rain vests and jackets – For rainy and windy days when the weather has gotten colder, you will want to have one of these jackets in your running wardrobe. Considerations when purchasing one:

  • Breathability - When you run, you sweat and if the sweat has nowhere to go because of restricted airflow, you will be soaking wet. The body is an amazing machine that perspires in order to cool, but you need to have air hit the sweat in order for the body to regulate temperature and mesh panels let the heat out. Look for a jacket with mesh panels that work as a vent and vent flaps that overlap the mesh. The mesh panels can be in a number of places on the jacket—in the armpits, along the sides or horizontally along the back.
  • Water and Wind Resistance – Your jacket should have some water resistance—more if the fabric is tightly woven, but will not be entirely waterproof. If it is especially windy, you may opt for a jacket that has fewer mesh panels. Again, the more tightly woven the fabric, the more protection you will have from the water and wind.
  • Insulation - If the weather is especially cold, you may want to wear an insulated vest/jacket. Choose something where the insulation is breathable.