Wearing the right running clothes can make your workouts more fun and can almost eliminate missed workouts due to ‘bad’ weather. Running clothes have come a long way in the past decade. If you’re still wearing cotton T-shirts and sweats when you jog or walk, than have I got some good news for you!
There are many moisture-wicking fabrics out there that are designed to take the sweat away from your skin to the outer part of the garment where it will evaporate and provide a cool and dry feel on the surface of your skin. What’s the big deal (you ask)? As cotton absorbs the moisture of sweat your running clothes will become both heavier and more abrasive. The uneven, sweat-gorged cotton threads will act like a sand paper against your skin and can cause uncomfortable chaffing when worn for a long walk or run. Cotton also traps this moisture against your body which will give you unwelcome cooling in the winter. The new micro-fiber fabrics available today are a tremendous improvement over the cotton running clothes of ‘yesterday.
So what separates all of the different types of brands and fabrics? Personal preference has a lot to do with it. I own and use running clothes made by Road Runner Sports (RRS Coolmax), Under Armor, Nike, New Balance, Target (C9 – Champion), and Reebok. Overall, I would say the primary difference in these brands is their style and resistance to wear. I have a lot of C9 running clothes and I like the way they look and I really like the fact that they cost about 30% as much as the other brands, but they wear out quicker. I found that my RRS and Under Armor running clothes seem to last forever and have little to no thread fraying after many miles of use. Sadly, the C9 apparel is not near as durable, but it can still endure many miles. The RRS Coolmax and Under Armor running clothes also seem to be slightly lighter than their competitor’s fabrics. So which is best? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. When I shop for myself, I tend to buy the cheaper stuff (C9)…but my Christmas list usually puts the RRS & Under Armor items at the top 😉
Wearing the right clothes on a run can make weather much less of a factor. The ‘breathable’ fabrics above can help reduce the affects of a hot and humid day. And outer layers can reduce the impact of rain, wind, and a chilly winter run. I tend to pack by the layers – here’s what I’d recommend:
- Your Base Layer:
The most important workout clothes are the ones that touch your skin. A Coolmax-type shirt is a great first layer for a run in any weather. Wearing shorts with a liner made of a moisture-wicking fabric will have the same benefits. For the same reasons stated above I would not recommend cotton underwear or socks. Having moisture-wicking fabric against your body is so much more comfortable than cotton. And once you experience the feeling of dry, cool feet you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner! This base layer of running clothes will keep you comfortable, dry, and cool from the heat of summer to the chill of winter.
- The Outer Layer:
Some of my most enjoyable running experiences have been in the rain and snow. If I was wet and cold, the experience would have been much different. A wind suit made of a breathable, water-proof fabric is your key to running through the rain drops like a giddy little kid again. I have a lightweight New Balance running suit that’s has a polyester shell and lining with nylon-lined sleeves. It’s great for a rainy day run! I also have a few C9 suits that have been on many “foul weather” runs. Rain drops on your face are only uncomfortable for the first few minutes…than they’re a welcomed and refreshing treat!
- The Extreme Layer:
Some of weather’s extremes can be faced just fine, as long as we take care of our extremities. Approximately 70% of heat loss occurs through our head, hands, and feet. A hat and gloves is a must when the temperatures dip down low. A balaclava can protect your neck and face from frostbite and even help warm the air before it rushes into your lungs. Running in the cold doesn’t have to be like Ralphy from the “Christmas Story” bundling up for school. A few ‘smart’ layers of clothes can really help turn a ‘bad weather’ day into a great workout!
Running is the no-frills hobby. And while a good pair of shoes if the only must, you owe it to yourself to try some of the new fabrics for running apparel. Aside from the comfort, you may also find yourself running when the rest of the world flocks to the indoors. See you out there!