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Running is one of the most accessible forms of exercises. Often, all it takes is putting on a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, shoes and then start running right outside the front door. As a result, running has become extremely popular. All kinds of people run. However, it’s far from everyone who dress optimally for running; many tend to dress far too warm, which reduces comfort and inhibit performance. Based on our long collaboration with some of the world’s best endurance athletes, this guide is designed to help you dress to perform optimally and get the most out of your run.
A common mistake among runners is to dress too warm. Don’t adjust your outfit after how it feels at the start of your run, but rather after how it feels 15 minutes into the workout. Ideally, you should freeze a little in the beginning, even if it’s unpleasant. We promise, you will soon get warm.
But if you still want to be warm at the beginning of the session, then you can layer up with a lightweight garment, which then can be removed if you get too warm. A thin and lightweight running jacket such as the Focus Hood Jacket, can easily be packed away in its own pocket and secured around the waist using the elastic band that comes with the jacket.
Another option is to start your run wearing a hat and gloves and then, when you get warm, tuck them away in a pocket or on the inside of your tights/shorts. A vest, which is a great running item, is also perfect to use for heat regulation. The vest protects the torso but ventilates the arms and armpits. In addition, you can use the zipper to adjust the ventilation.
But remember: Don’t dress too warm. This is perhaps our most important advice regarding how to dress for running.
But let’s take it from the beginning. To optimize comfort and performance, you need to wear functional clothes all the way from the inside to the outside. Start by putting on a pair of boxerbriefs/briefs or panties/sports bra made of 100 percent polyester. Polyester doesn’t bind moisture but transports it from the skin and out through the garment, keeping you dry and allowing you to work with the right body temperature. Many people make the mistake of using ordinary cotton underwear. Then it doesn’t matter if you wear functional garments on the outside – the cotton will absorb the moisture and you will quickly become wet and cold.
The rest of your outfit depends on whether it's hot or cold, if it’s raining or if you're running at night in dark conditions. The recommendations below cover most weather conditions for running during the spring, summer and early fall.
When running in hot conditions, it’s especially important that your outfit provides efficient moisture transport and ventilation in order to ensure that the body does not overheat. In general, the garments should be thin and preferably feature large mesh panels that transport moisture and offer enhanced ventilation. A tank top or tee with a full mesh back, such as the Focus Mesh Tee, is a great choice for running in warm conditions.
At the lower body, wear shorts or short tights. Running shorts come in several lengths and the serious runner usually goes with the shortest style to maximize freedom of movement and ventilation.
When running long distances in strong sunshine, it can be a good idea to protect the shoulders by letting the singlet stay at home and instead wear a tee. In addition, a running hat and sunglasses are good accessories for workouts in bright sunlight.
If possible, avoid wearing compression garments when running in hot conditions. Compression garments are very comfortable to wear when running, but the material in this type of garments is usually too tight to provide enough moisture transport and ventilation in hot conditions.
Long-sleeve running jersey and tights. Short- or long-sleeve baselayer top underneath a tee. Running jersey plus vest. Shorts and boxers with extra long legs for extra warmth around the thighs. Or a thin and wind-resistant running jacket worn over a tee plus tights. For chillier weather, there are many outfits that work well. Find the combination that suits you best.
Whatever combination you choose, make sure that all items are made of functional fabrics to ensures the moisture can be transported all the way form the skin to the outermost garment. And if you wear two layers on your upper body, the inner garment should have a rather tight fit while the outer garment can be a little looser. Then you will get an insulating gap between the garments while you maintain an efficient ventilation.
If you feel uncomfortable running in tights, a great alternative is to wear a pair of shorts on the outside of the tights. In addition to being a popular combination, this outfit also provides great wind protection in critical areas.
If you are a serious runner, you run in all weather conditions, including rain. When it rains, you actually have only two choices: to get wet from the inside (sweat) or from the outside (water). Usually, it’s least unpleasant to get wet from the outside; that is, to dress so that the moisture transport and breathability work properly at the expense of some of the garments’ water protection.
If it’s chilly and only light rain, it might be enough to wear a second layer outside the tee, preferably a mid-layer item with windproof front. Even if you eventually get wet, the extra layer will help keep you warm during the run. However, it’s important that the garments are made of materials with efficient moisture transport, otherwise they quickly become heavy and soon begin to sag from the body.
When training in heavy rain, we recommend wearing a rain jacket designed for running that offers good weather protection and efficient ventilation. At the lower body it’s usually best to wear a pair of tights, with short or long legs depending on the temperature, or wind- and water-resistant running shorts. This type of shorts can also be worn on the outside of the tights in cold and wet conditions, a combination that provides good weather protection in critical areas while you get great ventilation below the knees.
In rainy and warm conditions, we suggest that you wear thin and lightweight garments that bind as little water as possible, preferably a singlet with large mesh panels and short tights or shorts. Then just get out there and enjoy the refreshing rain.
When you run on roads and in low-light conditions, it’s extra important that you are visible. On chilly spring days, you can easily layer up with a reflective garment such as the Visibility Vest. On warmer days, a great choice is to wear a running tee/top with fluorescent colors and shorts/short tights with reflective print.
By dressing optimally all the way from the inside out you will stay both cool and dry, allowing you to work out harder and perform better.
Have a great run!