Running Kit Essentials

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Top runners’ tips for getting your kit just right

Today, we runners are spoilt for choice when it comes to kitting ourselves out. Whatever your budget, you’ll find product designed especially for the sport that can enhance your performance, protect against injury, and ensure your run is a comfortable one every time.

Obviously, the most important piece of kit is the right pair of trainers, and I’d recommend visiting a running store or specialist sports footwear shop like Size? so that you can get fitted properly and ensure you’re buying a pair that will give you the support your individual foot type needs. But good quality footwear isn’t the only item that’s essential for running safely and successfully. Whether you’re new to running or looking to improve your existing kit, these are my top tips for getting that kit just right. While brands like Converse may look good, you need to check whether they’re going to support your foot in the correct way.

Make the most of modern fabrics

Gone are the days when runners had to make do with a couple of old cotton t-shirts. Cotton absorbs water like there’s no tomorrow, becoming heavier and more uncomfortable the more you sweat or the more it decides to rain. Today’s running kit fabrics are specially designed to wick away moisture as you sweat, pushing moisture out through the material, keeping you dry as you run and reducing chaffing too. Also, modern wicking fabrics won’t absorb water when it’s raining, and dry far more quickly straight out of the washing machine too. So make the most of these advanced fabrics, and stick to garments manufactured from a blend of polyester, nylon, polyamide, Lycra or Tactel – your body will thank you for it.

Layer up

Anyone who’s run a few miles will tell you that your temperature can change dramatically over the course of a session. As well as your own body heat changing in line with your level of exertion, there’s the inclement British weather to cope with too. Wearing a single running garment may be comfortable, but it leaves you little leeway to adjust your temperature and level of comfort. Instead, opt for two or more garments, allowing you to add or remove a layer as you need. In cold conditions, two layers will trap air, providing an insulating barrier against cold. In colder conditions, it’s best to wear a wear a wicking garment next to the skin, followed by an insulating layer, and then a breathable, water-repellent outer layer.

Get the right support with a sports bra

For female runners, it’s not just your feet that feel the impact of running shocks. Running can cause discomfort to the bust if you’re not wearing the right support, and over time can cause the ligaments that support the breast to stretch irreversibly. While a traditional bra will reduced breast movement by around 35 per cent, a good sports bra will limit movement by as much as 60 per cent. It really is well worth investing in a good sports bra – either a crop-top style for a smaller bust, or enhanced support through moulded cups for a larger bust – to make your running sessions more comfortable and protect the breast tissue and ligaments in the long term.

Running tights

Many runners avoid tights as they think that this extra layer for the legs will cause them to be uncomfortably warm over long sessions. But for cold weather running, warm leg-wear is essential. Today’s running tights are made from wick-away fabrics, and are breathable and lightweight, but more importantly, they keep your leg muscles warm in colder temperatures, ensuring that they function more efficiently. Keeping the legs warm will not only make running more comfortable when temperatures drop, but it also reduces your chances of suffering a muscle pull or tear.