K yle and I started running together regularly a little over a year ago. I had recently started running to and from work, and shortly after meeting for the first time, we found out that both of us liked to run. We were interested in some sort of adventure. Something off-road. Something different. So we decided to run the proposed Atlanta BeltLine route. And on January 2, 2010, we started running a section at a time – kind of like Appalachian Trail section hikers – until we ran the whole thing in one go, March 20, 2010.
But the reason for this background info (and why it relates to the post topic), is what we wore on our first run… Now I’m pretty sure you’ll have a hard time finding runners looking like this on the cover of Runner’s World, Running Times or Trail Runner magazines, but you know what? It doesn’t really matter.
There is a common misconception that you have to wear “running clothes” to be a runner. What we were wearing worked just fine from 5 – 16+ miles. That’s not to say running-specific clothing fails to serve a purpose – most of what I wear running now can be considered running clothing. But in case you’re wondering:
In this pic, Kyle is wearing corduroys over shorts, a hooded sweatshirt and has a camera bag slung across his torso.
Note: It was around 20°F when we started running that morning.
But running-specific clothing is quite useful and I gradually transitioned to something more suitable to every-day, rain-or-shine run commuting. Here are some basics for running in all seasons:
You’ll want to remain as cool as possible, so lightweight, wicking fabrics are the way to go.
Running shorts – There are many different styles of running shorts you can purchase, from split shorts all the way through 10″ inseam, costing anywhere from $22 – $55 a pair.
Shirt – Lightweight and wicking. Many colors and styles. $15 to $45.
Hat - A hat works well to keep the sun and sweat out of your eyes. It’s also excellent rain-running gear, too, so I’ll usually run with one in my bag. $15 – $20.
Glasses – If it’s too hot out or you don’t like to wear hats, a pair of sunglasses is all you need. $ varies.
Socks – Some people wear them, some do not. Short socks work best and you can find decent ones at any department/sporting goods store in 10 packs. I prefer Drymax socks, since the wicking properties are much greater and I’m prepared in case of rain. They’re more expensive than regular socks (around $10 a pair), but well worth the investment. We’ll review them sometime soon.
I’ve lumped these together since temperatures and weather conditions can vary dramatically within a day in each of these seasons. My pack is usually at full-capacity on these days, since you may be running to work on an icy cold morning and returning home in 60 degree weather.
Running Shorts – Worn during the run home.
Shirt(s) – Long sleeve stretch shirt with short sleeve wicking shirt over top. The long sleeve shirts run a bit more than the SS ones – about $20 – $50.
Running Tights – If its super cold in the morning, I’ll wear tights. I won’t get into the whole shorts-over-tights vs. tights only debate, but we’re all for shorts over tights :o) Tights – $35 – $100. Pants – $35 – $60.
Jacket/Vest – A jacket or a vest is pretty nice to wear over top of everything else in the morning, but it can take up a lot of space in your bag at the end of the day. You’ll probably need one for winter but it’s optional during these seasons. $40 – $180.
Hat/Running Beanie – Lightweight, easy to pack and excellent for retaining heat on those cold mornings. $18 – $30.
You can wear everything on the run in and come home wearing shorts, short sleeve shirt, a hat or any combination of the leftover clothing.
Pants/Tights – Running pants over tights will allow your legs to breath and keep them nice and toasty at the same time.
Shirt(s) – I prefer a long sleeve tight shirt with short sleeve wicking shirt over top during the winter as well.
Jacket – Break out the warm one! Thermal jackets run between $40 and $85.
Running Beanie – You’ll want to wear this both ways.
Gloves/Mittens – Even if you don’t think you’ll need them that day, bring them with you. You’ll be surprised how comfortable these can make you after a few miles in a chilly wind and they’re essential when running in snow. $12 – $50.
These are the basics. There may be other accessories you find essential during a particular season and if so, let us know!
Note: Price ranges for these items came from a quick glance at the Running Warehouse website. They have great prices and will get you your gear FAST (free 2-day shipping). For those not wanting to drop a lot of cash on decent gear, Target has a line of workout clothes that have suited me just fine over the years (Men’s link, Women’s link) and you can find a lot of gear for 35% – 75% off by checking the clearance racks first.