Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gear Report: Running Clothes for Newbies

Get ready for some laughably bad photos of clothes.

After my post about my favorite running outfits vs. backup outfits, a surprising number of people came out of the woodwork asking about where to even start when it comes to running clothes. I take it for granted that I now know the dos and don't of running-wear by heart, but looking back now, I realize that I used to make all kinds of mistakes:
My first-ever 5k. What is this look?
Cutoff sweatpants? A cotton, baggy t-shirt? What was I thinking? Well, obviously I was thinking that I had no idea what makes a good running outfit. While a lot of this boils down to preference, there are definitely some rules to go by.

Avoid cotton. This goes for everything from tops and shorts to underwear. Cotton doesn't breathe and doesn't allow for sweat to be wicked away from the body. Ever gone swimming in a tshirt? That baby will stay drenched and cling to you for hours.

Choose clothes you feel comfortable in. I've bought a few things off sales racks and then never worn them because they're unflattering. If you can't imagine yourself wearing it out of the house, don't buy it.

I prefer tank tops and singlets because I feel sleeves are very restricting, but when it's cooler out I go for some nice tech-Ts. Here's a rundown of the brands and styles I prefer:

I wear Thorlo Experia socks. I love the extra padding, they don't slip, and I've never gotten a blister while wearing them. Even though I run in hot and humid weather, I never find my feet overheating from these.

I wear ProCompression calf sleeves during my runs. Even on short runs, I can definitely tell a difference in leg fatigue when I don't wear them. I kind of compare them to wearing a sports bra on your calves: they give extra support and keep things nice and tight.

I wear the full ProCompression socks for recovery, especially after a long run or a long day on my feet. I've worn these to work; I've worn them to bed. They are miraculous.

Confession time: I don't really wear underwear because my running shorts tend to have built-in mesh. But if I'm wearing spandex that doesn't have some netting, my go-to underwear is Target's Champion C9 brand. However, they don't seem to be available anymore, so click here for Runner's World's insight into undies.

I love capris for long races because they cut down on chafing. They're also great for winter,when the temperatures may start in the 50s but by the end of a run are well into the 60s. I overheat easily when I run so I tend to prefer shorts, but Champion makes a great pair of running capris.

Up until recently, I exclusively wore Target's Champion C9 sports bras. They come in so many fun colors and offer just the right fit and support for my build. But I recently scored this fun Patagonia bra, and I am in love with it! It's super comfy; I feel like I'm not even wearing it. Plus, the thinner straps don't cause as much eczema and chafing on my shoulders.

Champion makes their bras with thinner straps, and now that I've tried them, they've moved into my realm of favorites. They're reasonably priced and very pretty!

I will almost always grab a singlet over anything else. The lighter the material, the roomier the neck, and the sleevelesser the arm-holes, the more likely I am to gravitate toward it. I particularly love this one from Saucony (found here). It's lightweight, reflective, flattering, and inexpensive! When I'm looking for long-sleeves for layering in colder weather, I really love my Saucony HydraMAX top:


I'm beginning to see that messy backgrounds are a trend in my house.
These new running shorts from Nike are where it's at! The wide waistband is comfortable and flattering; the legs are roomy but don't give that weird inflated look. The shorts are fully lined, soft, breathable, and have pockets! Suddenly I realize why so many people are brand-loyal to Nike.

The bottom line here is that trial-and-error will help a new runner figure out what brands/styles work for them! I prefer clothes that fit close to the body, but many runners gravitate toward looser tops and running skirts. Try things out; over time, you'll put together a drawer (or six) of running clothes you'll have trouble choosing between!

What clothing tips would you share with new runners?
What apparel questions do you have?
Share links to your favorite running clothes in the comments!



  1. I saw those Nike shorts at Dick's and wanted to buy them! Thanks for giving me even more running clothes to investigate!
    emma @ a mom runs this town

    1. Always glad to help feed the running clothes addiction! :o)

  2. Hey! That sports bra looks familiar! Glad it's working out for you!! :) I'll send you the other one soon. I put it in a pile of papers and just now remembered! :)

    Melanie :)

    1. I'm loving it, and it's converted me to wearing thinner-strapped bras all the time now. I'm excited for the second one! :o)