When I began the Couch to 5k program, I went running in old sweats and t-shirts, and my worn out athletic shoes. I figured, it’s just running so it doesn’t really matter what I’m wearing or what I look like! I quickly discovered how wrong my assumptions were, when my sweats felt bulky while I was running, and my over-sized t-shirts were heavy and constricting. And the shoes…well if you’ve read my Tips for New Runners, or Setbacks Suck! then you know how I feel about running shoes.
I don’t necessarily care too much about looking good while I’m running; I’m sure that the act of running itself makes me look unattractive. But I do care about being comfortable and cool while I’m running, so I had to make some adjustments to my running gear, and I was surprised at the difference the right clothing made in my ability to run and in how I felt while running.
Here are a few suggestions I have for choosing the right clothing for running, or for any type of workout for that matter.
Moisture-Wicking: This type of fabric may have different trademark names depending on where you buy the clothing, but essentially moisture wicking fabric pulls perspiration away from the skin and spreads across the fabric to evaporate into the clothing evenly. This type of material has several benefits; it helps keep your skin cool and dry while you run, prevents skin chafing and also prevents pools of sweat from forming on your clothes (I know that sounds gross, but we all know what I’m talking about). Not to mention, it’s very comfortable to wear. While it may more expensive than other types of workout wear, it’s worth paying a little extra for, and you can usually find reasonable prices at stores like Target, JC Penney, Kohls, or even online at Amazon.
Get Good Socks!: I know this sounds silly, and I never would have considered that good socks could be that important, but they really make a difference in your comfort while running, especially for longer distances. I purchased good running shoes that I loved, but for some reason my right foot was just not comfortable after a few miles of running; it would get numb or cramped. I tried different techniques for tying my shoes and even different laces but nothing helped. Then my husband suggested that maybe I try better socks, so I bought a few different pairs on Amazon since I wasn’t sure what I would prefer, and let me tell you, the socks I found that worked made by right foot discomfort disappear. Everyone may have different preferences on favorite socks, but the socks I liked best were Balega Enduro No Show Socks; they were soft and comfortable with padding around the part of the ankle that touches shoes so they help prevent blisters. Another great pair of socks I found were the Swiftwick Zero Socks; these are great if you like lightweight compression style socks. I tend to prefer low cut socks so both of these are no show socks, but both brands have a ton of great options, so it’s just a matter of finding what you like.
Be Supportive: This tip is for the ladies…when performing any type of exercise activity, especially medium or high impact activity, it’s important to have a sports bra that provides good support, especially for women with larger cup sizes. There are a lot of great options out there, and you can actually find good sports bras at a reasonable price; it’s important to know what you’re looking for. As I mentioned earlier, choosing moisture wicking material will make your sports bra more comfortable. Also, try on sports bras before you purchase them. A sports bra is like any other type of bra; the wrong size will make a difference in the fit and support. Running stores are a great place to purchase sports bras as they have bras designed for the impact of running. If you require more support (I.E. larger cup size) be sure to look for bras with wide arm straps. And for all sizes, when you try on a sports bra, jog in place or do a few jumping jacks to be sure the bra provides support while you’re moving.
Gotta Get the Shoes: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…YOU MUST GET GOOD SHOES!! Whether you’re running or doing any other type of exercise, the right shoes will help you workout comfortably and prevent injuries that can sideline your progress. And I’m not talking about going to your local box store and buying a pair of shoes. Go to a running store and get fitted for the right shoes for you. During a fitting, the salesperson will examine your gait and fit you for the right size shoes. And when you’re fitted for shoes, be sure the salesperson tells you what style of shoe works best for you, vs just brands of shoes. That way, when you go shopping on your own you’ll know what to look for.
The right gear helps to set you up for success with any type of workout plan and will help keep you comfortable during your workouts. What gear do you love to workout in?