Running Clothes

Running is a relatively inexpensive hobby. Unless you pay for a gym membership, you can run, jog, or walk almost for free. The green fees for two 18-hole games of golf cost as much as a pair of running shoes, and the shoes will probably last for 3-6 months, compared to two afternoons for the green-fee. There are lots of fashionable clothes on the market, and you can spend as much as you want. Or, you can do as I do and wear grubbies with no concern for fashions or color combinations. But be careful. If you wear the wrong type of clothes, you'll increase your risk of injury, heat exhaustion or heat stroke in the summer, and hypothermia or frostbite in the winter. Let's look at the details.


Running Shoes

Shoes are the most important item in your running wardrobe, because your shoes protect you from the high stress of running. Shoes also help to control the movement of your feet, thus helping prevent injuries. However, if you wear the wrong shoes for your feet, you'll likely have a higher probability of injury. This is because the shoes may control your feet in such a way that you have a higher likelihood of injury. For more information about running shoes, click here.



Stockings are made from two types of material: cotton or polyester. Cotton stockings have the advantage of being less expensive and of absorbing moisture. They have the disadvantage that in cold weather, the moisture in the stockings can freeze, causing the stocking to be stiff and to increase the likelihood that your foot might suffer frostbite. Another disadvantage of cotton stockings is that if cotton stockings absorb a lot of moisture, they might "wad" up and be uncomfortable to wear and be more likely to cause sore spots or blisters. Polyester socks have the disadvantage of being more expensive, but they have the important advantage of not absorbing moisture; instead, they "wick" or remove moisture from the shoe so it can more easily evaporate. Since the socks don't absorb moisture, the moisture moves along the strands of fabric to the shoe and from there to the air via evaporation.
A few days ago, I had to run through a tunnel that took my running path under a major city street. There was about 2 inches of water in the tunnel that had collected after two rain storms. The water was about 2-3 inches deep. Rather than detour around the water, which would have added about 1/4 mile to my run and would have involved waiting for a long semaphore light, I just walked through the water, a distance of about 50 feet. After emerging from the tunnel, my feet and stockings were soaked. I stamped my feet a few times to jar excess water from my shoes, and then I continued my run. When I got home and took my shoes and socks off, I could tell they were still wet. However, I had no problems with my shoes or socks during the remainder of the run, because my socks were polyester. Had been wearing cotton socks, there would have been a good likelihood that my socks would have wadded up and been uncomfortable to wear.


T-Shirts & Singlets

T-shirts are made from the same two types of fabrics as stockings, and they have the same advantages and disadvantages as the corresponding stockings. I've worn cotton T-shirts during most of my running, but I recently switched to poly T-shirts, known as technical T-shirts, thanks to a suggestion from a friend. The first time I wore a technical T-shirt, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the shirt didn't cling to my body, even though I was covered with sweat. The shirt hung loosely on my body and allowed a breeze to blow between my skin and the shirt. Now, the only time I wear cotton T-shirts is in the winter when I do little sweating, and these shirts are heavy, long sleeved shirts that provide warmth.
Singlets, sleeveless shirts, are popular during races because they are light weight and leave the arms free for movement (pumping) during the race.


Shorts & Long Pants

Running shorts are usually made of nylon or a similar fabric, and they may have a small pocket for money or a car key. I have a couple of these shorts. I also use a nylon swimming suit that has a regular pocket in the rear.
Long pants come in two "flavors": traditional pants and tights. The traditional running pant is made from nylon or a similar material and fits loosely over the person's legs. The pant legs may have zippers to facilitate the removal of the pants while the person is wearing running shoes. These pants have the advantage of being relatively inexpensive, but they have the disadvantage of "flapping" in the wind, thus reducing the aerodynamic efficiency of the runner. Tights cover the lower body and legs, and many runners wear them during cold weather. Because they fit tightly over the body, they have little effect on aerodynamic efficiency.


Wind Breakers

During cold weather, runners wear layers of clothing rather than a single heavy jacket. The layers allow the runner to remove or add layers to control the warmth provided by the clothing. As long as these layers are kept dry, they will provide warmth. However, if the layers become wet, the moisture will conduct heat to the outside, and that heat will be lost. In addition, the layers usually don't inhibit wind from removing heat from the person's body. Thus, one more layer is needed to protect the other layers from rain or snow and to prevent the wind from removing heat. This last layer is known as a "wind breaker". Traditionally, wind breakers have been thin shells of nylon, but newer fabrics might also be used. I still use nylon, and I'm not familiar with newer materials that might be used. I periodically spray my wind breaker with a silicone spray to keep the fabric "water resistant".

1 comment:

sdrunner said...

I think the clothes are secondary, whereas running shoes are the most important thing to focus on when getting your running gear together. I wrote a post about how to Choose the Right Pair of Running Shoes.