As one progresses in their journey as a runner, they continuously seek to optimize their performance so that they tackle new running challenges with more ease. One crucial aspect that affects improvement is choosing the right clothing for your runs. With so many options of apparel designed specifically for this activity, even the most minimalistic runner would be tempted.
If you are wondering what to wear for running and how to adjust your outfit according to the weather conditions, here is a simple guide to help you choose the right clothing.
Dos and Don’ts
Just like when choosing the right running shoes, there are so many options for running apparel, that it may make it hard to rule them out and figure out what works best for you. To help you with that, here are some tips for what to avoid and what to consider when dressing up for going on a run:
Dressing warmer than the actual temperature outside will reduce comfort and affect your performance. A general rule for runners is to add 10 to 20 degrees to the outside temperature when it is cold and dress for that temperature. For example, if the temperature is 60 degrees, dress as if it were 50. This is because your body temperature will rise and adjust as you run, which would cause you to overheat if you were wearing clothes that are too thick.
If you want to avoid being cold before you run, you can choose from lightweight layers which you can remove and put aside as your body starts to produce heat during the run.
Avoid cotton and similar materials
Cotton is among the materials that you should avoid when choosing clothing for running. This material and similar others absorb the moisture from sweat and trap it against your skin. This can cause discomfort and cause you to overheat, which leads us to the next tip:
Opt for running-specialized clothing technology
Sportswear brands are constantly coming up with new and innovative materials designed specifically for runners. They use technical fabrics which are typically synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and spandex. These fabrics are preferred due to their moisture-wicking qualities, as well as for being lightweight and breathable. Rather than being absorbed, the moisture will circulate and dry faster through these materials, which ultimately makes for more comfortable clothing.
Choose reflective designs for safety
Reflective designs are an extra precautionary measure to consider if you prefer running at night or early in the morning when it is still dark outside. This is especially important if the roads are badly lit and drivers or cyclists can’t see you as easily. In this case, reflective designs, fluorescent clothing, and headlights will be your best friend.
Running: What to Wear &Weather Clothing Guide
Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of running apparel, let’s get to the actual clothing pieces and accessories that you will need for running. Further we have categorized them according to the weather, starting from warm weather, to cold and rainy winter temperatures.
What to wear for running in warm weather
For many runners, warm temperatures can be the least demanding when it comes to clothing. Be it during hot and humid summer days or mild spring temperatures, lightweight, loose-fitting and breathable clothing will be your go-to option.
For hotter days, minimal clothing such as a singlet and shorts will do, whereas in warm weather a T-shirt and shorts are two clothing staples. Choose from bright colors and avoid black clothing, since it attracts the most heat.
The heat affects your feet too, especially if you are running on heat-absorbing surfaces like asphalt roads. So, keep it light on your socks as well; avoid cotton and choose socks made of temperature-regulating materials such as Merino wool, or combinations of nylon, polyester, and spandex. Other accessories that are particularly useful during warm weather include sunglasses and a hat to protect you from the sun.
What to wear for running when raining
While the occasional rain during spring or late summer can be quite refreshing, cold rainy days don’t make for the optimal running conditions. But, runners adapt and overcome, with the help of running apparel made for rainy weather.
First things first: a cap with a brim will be a very practical accessory to invest in, as it will shield the rain away from your face. Moving on then to the waterproof running jacket, which is a useful but quite tricky clothing item for a lot of runners. The reason for this is that, while waterproof jackets shield you from the rain, they can often trap inside moisture from sweat. This can result in you being drenched anyway. Still, they are a functional piece of clothing, especially during colder rainy runs when you need protection from the rain and extra body heat.
When it comes to cold weather rainy runs, you might need to wear a couple of layers of clothing. Depending on the temperature and what feels best for you, you can choose from different short sleeve or long sleeve shirts. The base layer should be of a lightweight, hydrophobic material such as synthetic fabrics, in order to wick sweat off your skin. The middle layer should be an insulating layer that retains body heat, whereas the third layer would be your jacket. Careful not to overestimate cold temperatures though, as you will get hotter during your run.
As for the bottom pieces of clothing, this can vary from runner to runner and from temperature. Some like running in shorts up to a certain temperature, whereas others wear compression pants or waterproof pants, so it ultimately comes down to preference.
Remember to change out of your wet clothes as soon as you can after getting back from your run to avoid the increased risk of hypothermia.
What to wear for running in cold weather
Cold and chilly winter days surely demonstrate the importance of dressing for the weather. Many courageous runners tackle even the coldest of temperatures to keep doing what they love most— running. Apart from love for this type of training and determination, the right clothing pieces are a crucial component for enduring running in lower temperatures.
As the temperatures drop, the layers of clothing can add up. Let us break down how to properly layer during cold winter days so you are both shielded from the cold and comfortable.
When dressing for winter runs, layering should work similarly to rainy weather runs. The base layer should be insulating and moisture-wicking. This is the layer closest to your body and should therefore act as a shield against the cold and simultaneously prevent you from getting too sweaty. For this layer, consider long sleeve shirts of synthetic fabric blends or the more natural Merino wool material. Base layers can vary in thickness and are categorized into lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight; which you can choose from according to the temperature and what feels most comfortable for you.
Layering bottoms is not as necessary for most, but often you can see runners wear tights as a base layer underneath shorts or other types of pants.
This layer goes over your base layer and is slightly more loose-fitting. For mid-layers choose from insulating materials that will keep you warm, but that are simultaneously breathable and comfortable. This layer is optional and you can omit it if it is not as cold. The most common middle layers for runners are fleece jackets, Merino wool blends, and down.
The outer layer should be a running jacket that will protect you from cold winds and insulate the optimal body temperature. There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to outer layers; from windproof to waterproof, and combinations of both. This layer should be durable; it can be a soft-shell or waterproof one depending on the temperature and weather conditions.
Many runners prefer technical fabric bottoms (nylon, polyester, and spandex blends) even in cold temperatures. On slightly colder days you can opt for windproof bottoms, thermal ones, or Merino wool tights. Some prefer three-quarter tights, whereas others go for slightly looser pants. Generally, try to avoid moisture-absorbent pants and tights, as they do not make for a comfortable combination with chilly temperatures and sweat.
For the unstoppable winter runner, accessories such as a hat, headband, gloves or mittens, face masks, and wool blend socks will come in handy for extra warmth and protection. Make sure these are made from breathable materials that will allow heat circulation and ventilation so you avoid overheating.
Clothing Temperature Chart for Running
Too many options and layers to remember? If you are a visual learner like us, we made a what-to-wear temperature chart, to help you with choosing the right clothing for running in any weather.