As we waltz our way into a brand new year, millions of people are making resolutions to get fit, lose weight, and generally adopt healthier lifestyle habits.
With a world still in the throes of a global pandemic, however, there are fewer ways to do so than before, meaning many people are setting their sights on completing at-home fitness plans like Couch to 5k.
While there are many Couch to 5k plans and apps available worldwide, the medically-recommended plan—popularized by the UK’s NHS—involves doing three increasingly-challenging runs per week, with a rest day in between, over a period of nine weeks.
The goal? Getting new runners fit enough to do a 5-kilometre (or 3.1-mile) run without stopping.
And it works best, in my experience, if you dress for success.
A good running kit will not only make you feel more excited to hit the pavement, but help you run better, recover faster and avoid injury.
In fact, I learned the hard way so you don’t have to. When I first started running last year, I set out in old t-shirts, shorts, and the oldest pair of sneakers in my closet. All of which weren’t designed for running but seemed fine——until I got an injury.
In the time I was forced to rest, I learned as much as I could about the importance (and run-hacking abilities) of great running clothes, and haven’t turned back since. With a few small investments, I was faster, stronger, and injury-free.
So, let’s skip those mistakes for you and get right to the good stuff, shall we?
The Best Running Shoes
If you take only one piece of advice away from this today, let it be to buy the best running shoes you can afford. And steer clear of buying them from ‘fashionable’ brands.
Those big name sports brands make decent running shoes, but they don’t make the best running shoes; the kicks truly worth your coin come from running specialists like Asics, Salomon, New Balance, Brooks, Hoka and Saucony.
And even then, there is no one single ‘best’ running shoe, because every good running shoe is designed to different specifications and preferences like gait, weight, heel drop, pronation, cushioning, and more.
Spend a bit of time browsing shoes from each retailer, looking for styles that speak to your needs. High-tech cushioning will be especially helpful to new runners, as cushioning absorbs some of impact on your joints, and speak to their customer service representatives to ensure you’ve made the right choice before you buy.
Cold Weather Running Clothes
Comfort is key to choosing the best running clothes, but you also need to think about the elements—particularly in Winter, when you’ll need to wear multiple layers.
Most runners start with a good pair of running leggings, opting for quality over quantity (after all, with a rest day between runs, you can hand-wash and dry the same pair again and again).
We love the Kymira Sport’s Infrared Running Leggings, designed for both better performance and recovery, which actually increase blood circulation to and tissue oxygenation while you wear them.
They feature the first textile to be approved by the FDA in America for its medical-grade benefits, including enhancing energy production, pain relief, temperature regulation (warming and cooling your legs as needed), with an average 80% reduction in soft tissue injuries. Long story short? They help you run better.
Beyond leggings, it’s smart to invest in a few good basics from specialist running brands (like those listed above). On Running has brilliant options that are easy to layer, including tops with quick-dry mesh that adapt to multiple different training conditions (like their Performance Long T).
As we lose most of our heat through our heads, a durable hat—like Sealskin’s Waterproof Cold-Weather Beanie—wouldn’t go amiss, either.
Night-time Running Clothes
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s very likely you’ll be running in low-light conditions before or after work.
Because of this, you’ll want to invest in something that boosts your visibility, like Brooks’ Carbonite Jacket. The brand’s night-time friendly Run Visible line was designed using insight from vision science research to incorporate high-contrast, high-visibility colours and 3M Scotchlite Carbon Black reflectivity to help runners stand out in the dark.
There are a number of versatile waterproof pieces, including hoodies, running tights and shorts, that work on their own in warm weather or as base layers in the cold.
For night-time running fanatics, Proviz Sport’s REFLECT360 Women’s Running Jacket takes it another step further, a 360-degree reflective surface so that any light from vehicles will reflect back to drivers in the dark.
It weighs in at a feather-light 170g (size variable) so you’re not weighed down, with a comfortable soft-mesh back and under arms for airflow in Summer and Winter, too.
Best Sports Bras for Running
Let’s not beat around the bush, here; low-impact and medium-impact sports bras are going to do precisely nothing for B-cups plus.
It’s high-impact or bust (literally), so invest in something like the Maaree Solidarity High-Impact Sports Bra from the start.
The Solidarity features an adjustable ‘Overband’ and convertible shoulder straps which minimize upward movement along the chest and that dreaded ‘boob bounce’ (a run-ruiner for larger-breasted ladies, I assure you) while remaining cute and comfortable.
From there on out, much of what you wear when you run will depend on the changing seasons and personal preferences.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to the best running clothes, so listen to your body and remember to take it one step at a time.
Pun totally intended.