How To Choose The Best Running Gear For You
Not that long ago, runners didn’t have many options for the gear they used. Not to mention the amount of cotton people ran in! Nowadays, things are completely different. Target has their own activewear section, high-end brands like Lolë and Lululemon are still growing in popularity, and even celebrities have their own fitness apparel line. It’s nice to have choices, but it can also be overwhelming!
Your best friend’s preference for running tights may be the opposite of what makes you comfortable on the run, or may be well out of what you can spend. Luckily, with all the styles we have to choose from, there’s always something to fit your size and your budget.
Here are the top tips to keep in mind when purchasing your next piece of gear.
The Price Is Right
Even if you don’t keep a highly detailed budget, you have some idea what money you can put towards your running gear. Take a look online to see typical prices for basic pieces like tanks, shorts, tights, jackets, so you have a price point associated with a variety of retailers. For example, if you’re in need of a lot of shorts to run through a hot and humid summer, buying 4 pairs at Target is going to be much more reasonable than 4 pairs at Lululemon. On the flip side, if you don’t have a rain jacket and desperately need one, you may be OK with spending more money on a single item.
Personally, I am happy to spend more money on higher quality items for the winter. In Chicago, it is notoriously frigid during the winter months, so if I don’t want to spend all those miles on the treadmill, I’m going to need some tough gear. Plus, you aren’t doing nearly as much laundry in the winter since you aren’t drenched in sweat after every run. In the summer, you’ll be sweating through everything. No matter how much it costs, it won’t keep you from sweating. Often cheaper items will take care of your needs.
You spend a lot of time in your running clothes, so spend the money when you feel it’s worth it – like that jacket you eye every time you pass the Nike store – and save the money on things you don’t care about (for me, that’s socks!).
A Comfortable Fit
This is the most subjective and personal choice. Some runners like tight clothing, something that stays in place, close to the body all over, while others would feel trapped and nearly claustrophobic in such restrictive attire! If you’re unsure which you like, get an inexpensive version of some loose items and more form fitted options and give them a few runs each to see which is more comfortable for you.
I have a friend who refuses to buy any type of pants or capri’s that do not have a drawstring. I’ve never had much issue with this, so it’s something I hardly notice. Determine what your non-negotiable’s are and don’t waste your closet space, time, and money on items that do not meet that criteria.
Weather The Weather
Depending on where you live, the weather could have little effect on your gear (ahem, San Diego, I’m looking at you with your consistent sunshine and no snow!), or it could be the primary factor in what you buy and wear for every run.
If you live with seasons, you’re going to need a wider variety to account for temperature extremes, rain, wind, and sleet. Like I mentioned earlier, I spend a little more on my winter items since that is the toughest weather for me to run in. Personally, I need tights (sometimes pants over the tights) a few pair of gloves and a jacket for every 10 degree change. You, on the other hand, may be fine in 1-2 jackets for the winter if you run warm already and like the feel of the cold air as you run.
Think of what you’re likely to use the most of, and concentrate on finding a solid item that you love. That may be a balaclava for those in the Northeast, a lightweight rain jacket for the Pacific North West, or an army of tanks and shorts for the South. After all, with the right gear, you can run in any weather!
There is an accessory for everything. From what holds your phone and keys while you run, to the headphones you put in your ears, to the watch and water bottle that keep you going – there are endless ways to spend money. At first, it’s easy to think you need each and every one of these items to get the most out of your run and to improve as a runner.
A mile run at your fastest pace with a new Garmin and bluetooth headphones is the same as your fastest mile with only a top, shorts, and shoes. Of course, gloves and winter gear is pretty crucial, but for accessories outside of clothing, only get what you think you’ll use.
For example, if you are often running in the dark, purchasing reflective gear like lights or a reflective vest would be more of a priority for you than your friend who always runs on her lunch break.
I still remember my first 5K. I saw a woman in colorful tights, an ear warmer band, headphones, and belt hydration system warming up at the start. I looked forward to the day I’d be advanced enough to look like she did. When I finished the race and was half way done with my banana, I saw her cross the finish line. I was shocked! It was then I realized it doesn’t matter what gear you have, it’s the actual running that makes you better.
What’s one piece of running gear you can’t live without?