Running Apparel for Beginners
When you’re a running newbie, it’s important that you know the difference between function, fashion and a complete waste of money. While it’s nice to have the jazziest sportswear or latest running apparel, it’s far more important that you stay dry and avoid blisters than it is to look cool for Instagram selfies.
You might not appreciate comfort until the moment it’s taken away from you. If you are warm, dry and have no injury, then as much as that is a good thing, you aren’t necessarily aware of that feeling in the same way you will notice being cold, wet and have a blister on your big toe. It’s a bit like you don’t realize how far it is to walk to the shop until your car breaks down. Point being, we often take things for granted. Especially things that we can easily prevent from happening until it’s too late to do so.
What I’m getting at is, be proactive and ensure that your running gear is fit for purpose. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s okay today so it will be okay tomorrow. Check your kit regularly and make sure that shoes aren’t worn out, socks don’t have holes in and your clothing is suitable for the occasion. You need kit to keep you dry and warm, but without making you sore from chaffing. Does it fit correctly? If you’ve had time out from running your clothing might be too tight for example. Technical fabric clothing is more expensive, but will perform much better than standard cotton.
It’s surprising how the finish line will feel much further away the more pain you are in.
Clothing Essentials for a Newbie Runner
- Training shoes.
- Lycra leggings.
- Vest or T-shirt (short or long sleeved).
- High-visibility gilet if running at night or on the road.
- Caps, hats, visors.
- Gloves for cold weather.
- Running socks – ankle or thermal.
- Sports bra.
- Lightweight waterproof jacket.
Training Shoes for Running
You can read our guide on buying your first pair of running shoes, where we go into detail about everything you should consider. For the quick version, however, as a newbie all you need to do is head to your local sports store and ask the advice of the store assistant. They will gladly explain everything you need to know.
The key points to look out for when buying new sports shoes are:
- What type of running will you be doing? Jogging, trail running, etc.
- Budget – how much do you want to spend? Mid-range is our recommendation.
- Have the shop analyse your gait, as your walking style is as important as the actual fit.
- Choose a well-known running brand: Asics, Brooks, Saucony and New Balance are a good start.
Spending time getting the correct fitment of shoes for your needs is time well spent. Your feet are without doubt the most important parts of your body to look after when it comes to running. If you feel comfortable in your new trainers, they will inspire you to get out there and put the mileage in… and then it’s okay to take the obligatory Instagram selfie to upload to your running app.
Asics are without doubt the number one brand for running. Almost all marathon runners wear them, or have owned a pair, but you won’t go wrong with any specific running brands. The likes of Nike and Adidas are also worthy considerations, but they are more at the fashion end of the market than the serious runner’s choice.
There are a myriad of options to choose from here, but you want a pair of running shorts that you feel comfortable wearing both physically and mentally. Not everyone has the legs to wear a pair of traditional short running shorts. These days that isn’t a problem, though, because there are lots of other options such as three-quarter length leggings that will protect your legs in winter and are also thin enough to keep you reasonably cool in summer.
Everyone has their own look and feel that they wish to promote when they hit the pavement. Some folks might want to go for the old Rocky Balboa look with a traditional grey sweatsuit, but that isn’t the best option to be honest. You don’t want heavy cotton gear that will hold onto rainwater and sweat. There are plenty of modern fabrics, some well known and more expensive, others less well known. Most of them will try and keep water out, but wick sweat away from the body.
Shorts come with or without a lining, but it’s really down to personal choice and what you feel comfortable wearing. You might wish to pop down to your local sports shop and have a look round, or even better go to a specialist running store where they will have a better choice, but the prices might be slightly more expensive.
While Lycra has made its name from scantily clad fitness freaks and cyclists, Lycra is merely a brand name and the fabric has been used in lots of sportswear. While cycling-style shorts are more familiar with track and field athletes, three-quarter length leggings with a zip on the side are great all-year-round running companions.
You can wear leggings in place of thermal gear. Personally I sometimes put my boxing vest and shorts on top of my running leggings and long-sleeved running T-shirt.
It all depends on what look you feel comfortable with. If you go to a giant sports store you will find plenty of bargains to pick from.
Branded clothing is less important than branded training shoes, because it is your shoes and the quality of the soles specifically that is taking the pounding of your body weight with each step you take. A cheap rubber sole isn’t going to protect you like a quality branded compound that is backed by many hours of scientific research.
Though it still goes without saying that quality fabrics will perform better than non-branded counterparts. If you only have a small budget, make sure that you prioritize your shoes above your clothing.
Vest or T-Shirt (Short or Long Sleeved)
Depending on the climate, you will want to run in either a vest or a T-shirt. A vest is obviously the best choice if you are running in heat and just need something to keep the sun off your back. As vests are relatively inexpensive, it is wise to look out for a decent brand such as Asics, because they will dry super quick and won’t weigh you down like an old-fashioned cotton one.
When the weather gets a little colder or personally you feel a T-shirt suits your needs better, then you can wear either a standard fit T-shirt or a long-sleeved version, which will give you a bit more protection from the elements.
A T-shirt of some description should form part of your running kit as a newbie runner. Often when competing in charity races or maybe a park run, you will be given a T-shirt to celebrate your entry into the race. This is more common on half-marathons and marathons. On the park runs they often give out key rings from the famous running brands.
A gilet is a great way of adding a bit more protection without going all the way to a jacket. You will usually have a couple of extra pockets, which will be a great help for stuffing your car keys inside.
While you don’t necessarily have to have a bright neon gilet, if you do get a high-viz version then that will kill two birds with one stone and you won’t need to add another vest on top. The high-visibility option will give you peace of mind when running at night and especially if you have to cross any roads. Often the country roads are where you are most vulnerable because they don’t have the permanent lighting that the roads in towns and cities do.
If you live in an extremely cold climate then you may wish to get a padded gilet that is more oriented towards thermal efficiency. There are many formats to chose from. Some have zip on arms so you can convert between body warmer and a full jacket.
Caps, Hats, Visors
Baseball caps or more specifically visors are great for keeping the sun out of your eyes, when out running. This is not just something that is of convenience, but it’s vital for safety that you can see where you are running. Not just for your own safety, but for everyone around you. Some people like a cap as a fashion accessory, but if you wish to go down this route, there are also more modern options such as beanies to choose from.
From keeping the sun out of your eyes with a visor, you can keep the sun’s heat in with a woolly hat. You can go for the old-school versions that your granny used to knit or grab a more modern offering. Bear in mind that a traditional woolly hat will hold onto moisture and sweat so it might be worth splashing out on branded garment that features a technical fabric so you don’t overheat.
We all know how quickly you warm up when running, even on a cold day, but your fingers aren’t always invited to the warming-up party. That’s why it’s best to follow the example set by the Premiership footballers and wear a set of gloves. You can get some decent ones with nice soft-touch fabrics that are a joy to hold or wear.
If you don’t want to go for the full winter option, you can get finger-less gloves instead, which will give you a bit more dexterity should you need to bend down and tie your laces.
There’s not much else we can say about gloves really, except that they come in handy!
If there is one thing that is just as important to a runner’s welfare as training shoes, it has to be the socks you are wearing. Cheap socks will inevitably give you blisters, therefore, don’t cut corners when you go shock shopping.
Things to look out for include stay-fresh technology that includes silver. Without getting too techy, silver is a natural bacteria suppressor and will ensure your socks – and shoes – stay smelling nice and sweet.
Secondly, quick-drying fabrics are vital when it comes towards keeping your feet in tip top condition. Your feet will feel much more comfortable in your socks if they aren’t dripping in sweat. Combine good quality socks with advanced features with specialist running shoes and you are onto a winner.
Thirdly, some more advanced socks have compression technology. They work in a similar way as to what people wear on long-haul flights. Essentially they are just tight-fitting so your feet don’t swell up with fluid, which should aid your recovery time.
Lastly, make sure the socks have padded heel and toe support. This will give you that bit of extra cushioning in order to stop blisters over the many miles of road and track that you will be running down.
Socks are one of the areas where there are plenty of wacky designs to add a bit of flavor to your running attire. If you ask us, though, maybe stick to white or perhaps a jazzy set of neon yellow socks that will make sure you stand out in the dark.
Regardless of the size of your breasts, you will definitely need a sports bra if you wish to keep your breasts supported and stop your skin from stretching or sagging, which is a one-way process. You can’t change your mind once your breasts are broken, so plan ahead and take the preventative measure. Buy a good quality sports bra.
When your boobs bounce, they exert a force far bigger than they actually weigh so the loading on your skin is exaggerated. You are also at risk of back pain and soreness. Make sure your bra is a tight fit, but not so tight that it hurts and digs into your skin.
The two main types of sports bra are compression bras and others with in-built cups. Compression-style bras look more like crop tops and are best suited to ladies with smaller breasts. In-built cups are appropriate for everyone else.
Make sure you get as much information on sports bra fitment as possible, because it really is something that you need to get right for the benefit of your long-term health.
Lightweight Waterproof Jacket
A lightweight waterproof running jacket is a great addition to any running wardrobe. You can wear it when out running or to keep warm while you stand about before a race. They come in many different versions, some you can roll up and carry in a bag or rucksack. It all depends on whether you are going for the lightest most compact material possible or do you need something a bit heavier?
The traditional nylon windbreaker jackets have been around since the 1960s and similar styles are still available today.
For a more expensive approach, however, you can opt for the technical fabrics like Gortex that have been made famous by mountaineering brands such as North Face and Berghaus. They will keep you protected from the elements and can be stowed away easily when not needed.
Today there are endless brand names and materials to choose from. You can get hooded or a plain jacket, breathable, lined and so on. You won’t regret buying one such is their versatility.
Five More Runner’s Reads
- Middle-Distance Running
- Best Running Apps
- Long-Distance Running
- Running Technology Wearables
- High-Visibility Running Apparel
What’s Your Favorite Item?
What is the most essential garment from your point of view? What advice would you give a newbie runner when buying their first bit of kit? Share you comments below – it would be great to hear what you have to say.