What To Wear: Running
Running gear needs to be technical- whatever level of skill you are it in terms of your training. Typical gear you probably associate with running - stretchy lycras, high leg shorts and high visibility kit are all worn becuase they not only keep you safe and seen, but comfortable and cool too.
You should also remember to dress for the season you are running in:
You should adopt a similar layering system to the one you’d use if you were heading out onto the hills; base layer, mid layer, outer layer. By keeping to technical fabrics within this layering system you will keep the bulk down and keep warm and dry.
Base layer This layer should wick moisture off your skin to stop you getting chilly.
The best base layers are lightweight and fit snugly against your skin. Look for synthetic wicking materials rather than absorbent fabrics like cotton.
Middle layer The middle layer insulates the body even more by creating additional air-space. Although this second layer might be a bit heavier than the base layer, it should still be a loose-fitting technical top that'll wick moisture away.
Outer layer This protective shell will protect you from the cold, wind, rain or snow while still allowing sweat to evaporate. It's best to pick a jacket that sits loosely over the other layer(s) to keep your outfit's wicking and insulating efficient. It'll need efficient ventilation - a long front zipper, for example, will allow you to control your temperature. Gilets with zip-off sleeves are another useful winter item.
Take a hat!
Your body will always prioritise keeping your brain warm, so if you get cold, heat will be drawn from other parts of your body (such as your hands and feet). To reduce the amount of body heat that escapes through your head, try wearing a hat or headband (or both). You can always slip them off if you heat up later in your run.
Keep your hands warm!
If your hands are still cold, mittens are perfect - the air pocket around your fingers and the shared warmth of your fingers will keep you warmer than gloves. However, light, breathable gloves are great for mild days. Either way, look for a pair made from wickable fabric.
Make yourself seen!
As the nights draw in, it's worth investing in some effective reflective kit. Although fluorescent colours are perfect for getting noticed during the day, at night, white kit shows up just as well in motorists' headlights.
Keep your head covered!
You lose a lot of body heat through the head, which might seem like good news in the sweltering summer sun. But if the sun’s beating down, covering up with the cap is actually the best way to avoid sunstroke and sunburn. Invest in a cap made from technical fabric that’ll wick sweat.
Keep your clothing technical!
Cotton will soak up sweat and make your clothes heavy and uncomfortable, and might even cause nasty rubbing it’s best to stick to fabrics that are specially designed to wick perspiration away from the skin so it evaporates quickly, technical fabrics will also keep their shape rather than clinging and rubbing, preventing irritation and keeping you cool and dry. It’s also best to wear a looser-fitting top. Not only will it give you more protection from the sun, but a looser garment will also pick up any cooling breeze around. Don’t forget, the lighter the fabric, the better.
Change your socks!
For long summer runs, leave warm winter socks in the wardrobe and slip on thinner socks to sidestep sweaty feet, blisters, athlete’s foot or worse.
A base layer is designed to sit directly in contact with your skin in order to move sweat and moisture created during activity. These differ from regular t-shirts as they are made from synthetic fabric that does not absorb moisture. A t-shirt made from a non-wicking fabric will simply soak up moisture, keeping it on the garment where bacteria can form, causing odours and stains, whilst the moisture quickly becomes cold, leaving you chilled.
Base layers do not prevent you from sweating. Sweat is a natural response that is created during activity; it is released in order to keep you cool. Base layers work as a conduit for moisture, by drawing (wicking) the moisture from your skin and passing it on to the next layer, if you are using a layering system or allowing it to be evaporated. They do this through a process called capillary action, which is the process by which liquids are drawn through fabrics and into pores found between fibres, this process ensures you maintain an optimum body temperature and stay cool and dry.
Base layers should fit like a second skin as they will only transport moisture from the skin that it is in contact with. They should not be so tight thought that they are restrictive; they need to allow freedom of movement, not chaffing your skin as it does so. For this reason, flat-locked seams are a common feature in base layer construction. These are seams that have been stitched flat in order to avoid abrasion or irritation to the skin.
- The running baselayer is designed to sit directly in contact with your skin in order to release sweat and moisture created as you move.
- Baselayers differ from t-shirts as although they are the first layer on your skin, they are designed to move moisture away from your skin, keeping you comfortable and cool.
- A next to the skin layer made from a non synthetic fabric will simply soak up moisture, keeping it on the garment where bacteria can form, causing odors and stains, whilst the moisture quickly becomes cold, leaving you chilled.
- A baselayer should fit closely like a 'second skin', an should be made from an appropriate wicking material which not only allows you to move freely, not chaffing your skin as you do so, but also allows you to transport moisture away from the skin.
- For this reason, flat locked seams or seamed stitching is common in baselayer construction. This indicates that the baselayer has been constructed without the use of raised seams, in order to avoid abrasion or irritation to the skin.
- Baselayers do not prevent you sweating. Sweat is a natural response that is created during activity, it is released in order to keep you cool. Baselayers work by releasing this excess sweat into the fibres of your baselayer. The baselayer, if it is wicking, then draws this moisture away from your skin, where it is evaporated. This process ensures you maintain an optimum body temperature and stay cool and dry.
- For this process to happen, the baselayer must be next to the skin, and must be made from a technical fabric, capable of releasing moisture, known as a ‘breathable’ or ‘wicking fabric’.
Baselayers are different from garments such as t-shirts because they never use 100% natural fibres such as cotton.
Although cotton feels comfortable, and can fit close to the skin, it is unsuitable as a technical layer as it soaks up moisture and holds on to it, preventing quick evaporation, leaving the wearer cold and uncomfortable.
Baselayers are essential for any form of outdoor activity in both cold and warm conditions and many baselayers are designed with inbuilt SPF (Sun protection factor). 100% SPF indicates the baselayer can protect from UVA, UVB and UVC rays.
- Sweat, or perspiration is your body cooling you down. By releasing excess heat and bodily salts the body attempts to cool you as your core temperature rises.
- With 2 and a half million sweat glands on average on our bodies, these are all 'venting' areas on our bodies for dampness and moisture.
- The sweat you produce varies from each individual, with any amount of 1 to 3 litres being produced during a day of activity. This is why it is so important to stay hydrated.
- The sweat as a liquid is scentless, but can still stain. The odour comes from bacteria mixing with the sweat and the proteins within in, which produces a smell.
- This is why many baselayers concentrate on using anti microbial properties on the surface, such as silver ion technology which breaks down the cellular wall of the bacteria to not prevent sweating, but to prevent the smells that can form on a baselayer.
- Baselayers must have the ability to soak moisture away from the skin’s surface to the top of the baselayer, where it can reach the environment to be evaporated. This keeps the wearer free from sweat and comfortable.
- Also known as "moisture management", a baselayer’s level of breathability shows its capabilities for completing this process of transferring heat and moisture away from the skin.
- Breathability can be aided by the fabrics themselves, which can be coated in a pore based membrane to aid the release of moisture. This is a feature of synthetic coated membranes such as GORE-Tex or e-Vent. These work to vent moisture away from the skin. Another way that baselayers can have increased breathability is by the baselayers construction.
- Mesh areas are usually found under the armpits to add additional ventilation to your baselayer and zips and adjustable cuffs are common, allowing you to create open venting points to speed the cooling and drying process.
- Fabrics vary from baselayer to baselayer, but typically they are made from microfibres such as Nylon, polyester, supplex, or a similar synthetic weave.
- Blends of synthetics and natural fabrics, such as cotton or silk can also be used together in order to increase the comfort of your baselayer, but cotton is rarely used on its own. (Like wool or denim, similar natural fabrics, cotton absorbs moisture readily and is unable to wick it away. This causes it to feel heavier and uncomfortable, clinging to the body, causing dampness and chaffing of the skin. )
- Synthetics are also used as they ensure your clothes dry quickly, usually in a manner of hours, so your baselayer can cope with both internal moisture as well as external, environmental dampness.
- Drying times for baselayers can vary on the level of moisture in the environment, but it is a fact that for wicking capabilities and keeping you cool and dry, synthetic materials are the best buy.
- Wool is included in many baselayers because despite appearances, wool can work in the same manner as a technical synthetic. The fibres of the wool are important, and it is merino wool from merino sheep found in New Zealand that is typically used in technical clothing and baselayer construction.
- Merino wool has a much smoother final finish than a standard sheep's wool, and the fibres are non abrasive and ideal for people with sensitive skin.
- Wool works as a baselayer by absorbing the excess moisture, rather than passing it through a layer as with synthetics such as GORE-Tex. A wool baselayer holds 30% of it's own weight in water absorption before this reaches the skin level of the wearer, and throughout the process of absorption the natural fibre construction means that Merino Wool can remain breathable.
- Wool is also a great natural insulator, holding heat within the fibres and distributing this warmth evenly, which makes Merino wool a good choice for a variety of climates.
- Wool can perform well when wet for a certain time period, and is also comfortable and soft. It also typically fends off bacteria, which causes odor when combined with sweat for longer periods that similar baselayers made from synthetics.
There are 3 main categories of running shorts detailed below:
- Long Length Running Shorts- Ideal for protection from abrasion and trail running
- Racing Shorts - Ideal for general running and road running
- Baselayer Shorts- Close fitting shorts used for speed running or as a part of the Layering System underneath another pair of shorts.
Look for a close fit that moves like a second skin, as your running shorts shouldn’t hinder your movement.
You can pick a highly technical pair as part of a layering system by wearing them under a longer length style of short. Flat locked seams eliminate rubbing or roughness, making sure your running shorts don’t chafe as you run.
Look for inner briefs, which help you stay comfortable on longer runs.
High arches at the thigh with a traditional style running short increase flexibility, making them ideal for off roading.
Running shorts can also incorporate areas of high visibility so you can stay safe whilst road running, from reflective piping to hi vis strips.
- Long length shorts are cut above the knee and can sometimes be used to layer over the top of baselayer shorts, or worn alone. They are ideal for protecting you from abrasion from debris and wind, as well as helping those who suffer from rubbing in the thigh area and are great during trailor road running.
- Longer length running shorts usually contain pockets for stashing belongings such as keys or gloves.
- There are other types, such as 'Traditional running shorts'- with a high, arched leg.
- Short style, traditional look running / racing shorts come with a high cut and often have arched sides along the side of the thigh for increased flexibility and ventilation as you move.
Traditional running shorts are designed in technical fabrics in order to wick away moisture, such as polyester.
- To increase comfort next to your skin, traditional running shorts typically have inner liners made from microfibers and flat seams that don't irritate your skin.
- Traditional running shorts designed for racing can vary in styles, but usually contain tiny pockets suitable for storing keys. In order to prevent the shorts from riding up and rubbing, elasticated areas are used at the entrance to the traditional running shorts to provide extra grip to your waist or hips whilst you run.
- Close Fitting Baselayer Shorts like the brand Skins, these are created from manmade synthetics and polymer blends such as Nylon and polyester as well as stretchy fabrics such as Elastane and Lycra, and fit very closely to the skin as you move.
- Technical shorts are designed to be worn either on their own or under standard shorts for a compression effect.
Designed with seams that contour along your muscles, or no seams at all, these don’t rub or cause abrasion to your skin whilst running. Specific padded baselayer shorts can also be designed with a compression effect to support your joints and muscles, both as you run and during recovery.
- These are ideal for competitive running, but often don’t have the same features as a standard short, such as pockets.
If you are running against the clock, a highly technical short cuts down on all excess weight and can increase your speed.
- Baselayer technical shorts are ideal for sealing in your body heat and can wick away sweat in sensitive areas.
- Synthetics dry extremely fast in the atmosphere, but are less efficient at resisting bacteria, unless specifically treated with an anti-microbial coating such as LIFA.
- Synthetic clothing is cheap to purchase, as well as being easy to maintain, thanks to their wrinkle-free design and non-iron capabilities. Lycra is created from a spandex and elastane blend that is equally flexible, and also stronger than some forms of rubber!
- Lycra is another example of a flexible, tough and abrasion resistant man made synthetic used to add stretch to running shorts.
- As you run, your body will produce sweat. The best way to keep this moisture off your skin is by making sure that your running shorts are breathable with wicking capabilities.
- This means they ability to move moisture away from the skin’s surface to the top of the garment, keeping your skin cool and dry.
Natural fibres such as cotton are not wicking, and become heavy when wet, despite being comfortable when dry.
- Synthetics are breathable and wicking, and dry off quicker than a natural fibre.
For active wear and sports, the more breathable your garment, the better.
Tights are also described as leggings, long johns or thermals and are primarily used as baselayers in cold weather conditions.
Ideal for use when running, cycling or skiing, a technical pair of tights are able to help you stay cool and dry in periods of activity, whilst simultaneously maintaining your own created body warmth so you stay warm in colder temperatures.
Tights are aptly named and are designed to fit close to the skin, so they are typically blended with a stretch capable fabric such as Spandex, Elastane, Polamide, or Lycra for increased flexibility.
This can be in a small percentage of the garment, so whilst you have the benefits of the flex of the fabric, you can also have the durability or a polyester or Nylon. This mix is referred to as a blend.
- For running and fast paced hikes, ensure you get a pair of tights or leggings that are able to regulate heat. Breathable designs ensure that your body heat ciruclates, whlst still allowing sweat and excess moisture to escape.
- Because of your need to move your legs and thighs, ensure that you choose a pair of tights that can stretch with you. A '4 way stretch' is common, and the ideal pair of tights will offer a stretch in the waistband as well as in the calves or ankle to keep them secured.
- For use on the trail, many GO Outdoors customers find that leggings or tights are best teamed with a pair of shorts worn over the top. This allows the benefits of extra storage and abrassion resistance, whilst still allowing you the comfort of a pair of leggings.
What To Look For:
- Compression fabrics – Can be used to enhance performance to help recovery
- Flat locked seams- These are used so no irritation or rubbing can occur as you move
- Some tights come with inbuilt ankle zips that allow you to vent out air and customize your fit.
- Midweight compression fabric for enhanced performance
- Zipped pockets-Most tights designed for active sports include small inbuilt pockets, ideal for keys or other small essentials.
- High visibility- Reflective piping, logos of reflective strips can be included in your tights, ideal for keeping you safe in low light conditions when skiing, cycling or running.
- Sun protection- UPF or UV protection can be inbuilt into tights, particularly useful when skiing. A 100% UPF protects you from all three harmful types of UV rays- UVA, UVB and UVC
- Merino wool
- All tights for activity are made from synthetics so that they are quick to dry and able to wick away moisture from your skin.
Typically, Nylon and Polyester are the main fabrics used as these are comfortable next to the skin, but are still capable of staying lightweight when wet and are able to draw moisture away from the skin’s surface.
- Nylon and polyester are also resistant to UV rays and abrasion, ideal if you are wearing your tights as your main layer on your legs for sports such as running or skiing.
- Merino wool is an example to the rule that all tights are made from synthetics. Merino is a warm yet lightweight fabric that is also highly breathable and odour-free. It absorbs its on weight and more in moisture, but keeps it away from your skin by moving it to the surface of the fibres, working as a natural, breathable layer.
- It differs from otrher natural fibres such as cotton that become heavy when wet, and have no way of moving moisture away, instead, they become waterlogged, heavy and uncomfortable.
- Tights can be closed at the ankle via elasticated cuffs, zips, or velcro seams.
- This helps keep wind and debris away from the skin.
Tights are typically a close to the body fit, so may come a size tighter than your usually clothing fit.
- Elasticated waists are important on a pair of tights, whether you want skiing tights, running tights or cycling tights. They allow you to wear additional layers, and provide stretch to cope with body weight fluctuations and changes in shape whilst being active.
- Tights come in a very similar styles for men and women, although they often fit at differently. Women’s tights are typically larger to fit the thigh, and smaller in the waist.
Additional panels are often added to tights to provide stretch, abrasion resistance, or anti microbial properties.
For running you need a jacket that can keep you warm, whilst simultaneously letting heat escape offering you plenty of breathability.
Breathability refers to a running jacket’s ability to keep you dry by evicting moisture and vapours to the outer layers, away from the skin. Special weaves allow increased speed of the cooling process, allowing moisture to be wicked away from the skin to the outer layer where it is the evaporated.
Similarly, if you run in all conditions including cold or wet weather you want a jacket that ensures wind and rain can’t permeate. The thicker the waterproof or windproof coating or membrane, the more efficient the running jacket will be at repelling moisture, yet the breathability will suffer.
The key to any running jacket is flexibility of motion, so your arms and waist can move freely as you run. This means many jackets have a stretch fabric creation in the arms and waist, either in the forms of panelled areas, or a blended fabric that contains Elastane or Lycra. They will also have a more athletic cut, being designed to sit either on or just above the hips, this ensures there is no restriction on your range of movement as you run uphill.
For maximum comfort many running jackets will have flat-locked seams and additional venting capabilities such a mesh panels that move moisture away from your skin, thus reduces irritation and chilling.
Key features to look for in a good running jacket:
- A slim construction to reduce bulk.
- A lightweight construction that’s easy to pack away or roll up when not in use.
- Drop tail designs for extra coverage at the back.
- A hood that can pack away or be adjusted for rain protection as needed.
- A water repellent finish (DWR – Durable Water Repellence) will allow the garment to repel water whilst still maintaining breathability.
- Reflective panels/piping for high visibility and safety in low light conditions.
- Stretch fabric for enhanced movement, either in the body of the jacket or in the arms and elbows. This will also give you an enhanced fit over varying layers of clothing, enabling it to be worn all year round.
Why you should choose windproof protection:
Windproofing is important in the outdoors, particularly when you are at height or running against the wind. Increased exposure to winds means you are more at risk of being affected by cold vapours.
Windproof items typically also have waterproofing capabilities, but have the advantage that they are more breathable than a waterproof alternatives.
This means they are still fine to use when it is cold and drizzly, but not pouring with rain.
The use of softshells for active wear with the need for this extra breathability has meant advancements in how clothing is windproofed.
Remeber- a certain jacket may be both waterproof and windproof, but it's levels of breathability are therefore lower.
Hi Visibility Running Gear
- Hi Vis is particularly important for runners who run at night and early in the morning. Reflective and able to be seen at a distance, Hi Vis Gear is always a great thing to buy if your road running.
- Although most running pieces of running gear have reflective strips, or hi vis colouring, it's always best to wear more to keep yourself visible on the streets.
- Reflective wear can increase your chances of being seen. Use a high visibility jacket to offer a high level of protection, or in the summer, use a hi vis vest.
- Ideally you should wear high vis from your widest and highest point- so hi vis on your hat and trainers and across your body to indicate how much road space you need- all things that can be easily misjudged by tired evening drivers.
- The range of hi vis gear is vast, including jackets, vests and baselayers, shorts, and ankle and wrist straps/bracelets that keep you seen.
- Remember that hi vis works best at illuminating you when light shines on it, and you should try never run alone, and to always run in well lit routes. Try stay aware of your surroundings rather than zoned into your music. If you need to emit light, try a headlight.