Running in…part 3

… Run Clothing

Choosing what to wear for running can be extremely easy or as troublesome as any wardrobe moment. It’s up to you and, as with most things, can be as complicated or straightforward as you care to make it. There are some points to bear in mind.


Avoid anything cotton for running. No matter the season, cotton is not your friend when it comes to running. It holds moisture (ie sweat), clings like a limpet and chafes like crazy. (The effect of wet cotton t-shirts on nipples has to been seen to be bellieved. The consequences are only fully appreciated in the shower later.)

Wet clothing is extremely chilling if you have to stop running or slow down. Cotton dries very slowly and so contributes to even more rapid chilling. Even if the cotton layer is well away from your skin, its ability to extract heat from you remains powerful.

Let’s avoid cotton. And yes that applies to your underwear as well.

Wicking fabrics like wool or polyester will serve you much better and keep you smiling much longer. (Yes you will be smiling I promise!) Wool retains its warming powers even when damp. Polyester fabrics don’t hold onto the moisture and so remain warmer longer.

womens cold weather

Upper body

As we are talking about starting a programme in January, you may need a long sleeve top until the weather warms up. Depending on where you are in the country, you may need a heavy and a mid-weight slong sleeved top to cope with winter. A good rule of thumb is to dress like it’s 15 to 20 degrees warmer than it actually is. As you are standing around at the start of a session, you should feel somewhat uncomfortable. If you are quite happy standing in the car park, you will be overheating on your run.

If it is a breezy, a windproof jacket will make quite a difference – if it is raining reasonably hard, upgrade to a lightweight waterproof instead. The more you can keep dry and out of the wind, the warmer you will feel.

Lower body

On you lower body, you have a choice shorts, ¾ or full length tights as you prefer/as the weather dictates. Avoid “bottoms” that have seams through the crotch if you can – chafing in that area is never a good thing. This is another aspect of wardrobe malfunction that is only revealed in the post run shower.

Many cheaper leggings or those designed for non-running activities can be constructed with a seam in this area so it is worth inspection. Initially you will probably get away with such garments on the very short runs, but as you progress, running specific bottoms will be more comfortable.

mens cold weather


If it is really cold or you tend to get cold hands for any reason, a pair of gloves may keep your fingers from turning to a bunch of bananas (or worse) during your runs. If you really suffer with cold hands/Reynauds, mitts are warmer than gloves and ensuring that your wrists are kept warm will help. Wrist warmers are helpful here (although you may find they interfer with your watch if you are using one).

If you are likely to be running in the dark, some reflective gear (e.g. a vest) and a headtorch will also be advisable. Fluo colours are great in day light but after dark, reflective is by far the most effective. It is possible to get jackets that are reflective in a 360 degree arc; no excuse for not being seen wearing one of those.

A hat will help keep heat in your body when the air is very cold. If you run with a hot head, a head band that will keep your ears out of the cold can be very useful. Neck tubes like Buffs are multifunctional but you may need several if the conditions are likely to deteriorate. They are especially useful for keeping your neck warm – one of the key areas to keep covered to keep warmth in the body.


sale-2778918_1280If you don’t want to spend a fortune on run clothing there are plenty of good value retailers both on the high street and online. Running is particularly well served by smaller local retailers and they are always worth seeking out. But even Aldi and Lidl will have running weeks which are worth keeping an eye out for.


Above all, whatever you choose to wear, you need to ensure that you are comfortable before and especially during your run. It mkes the difference between a good run and a ruined run.

Whatever happens, AVOID COTTON! (I may have mentioned that before.)

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