While they may not be the most attractive of options, running tights can help you in your running training. Keeping you warm in the winter and adding extra support, wearing tights means you can spend less time worrying about the conditions and more time focused on running. Understanding the specific benefits of going for something light and long over wearing traditional short, lightweight running shorts may convince you to add tights to your runner's arsenal.
One of the most obvious benefits of opting for tights over shorts or even sweatpants is the warmth they offer during the colder months. While it's true that you need extra warmth for winter running, you also don't want to be weighted down or get too hot during your run. Tights offer extra warmth from the length and, if constructed from a performance fabric, can help wick sweat away from skin so you stay warm -- but not too warm -- to continue training through temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit, suggests The Competitive Runner.
Even if it's not too cold out, running tights can pull double duty by protecting the skin on your legs from the elements. Whether it's the hot sun or whipping wind, an extra layer on your legs gives you more protection. Because avid runners hit the pavement no matter what the weather, tights are an ideal way to protect skin without having to compromise on gear.
Running tights made from compression fabrics fit like a second skin on your legs, giving you extra support and increasing circulation to the legs. Increased circulation is especially important for long-distance runners. A French study by Bringard, Perrey and Belluye and published in a 2006 issue of the "International Journal of Sports Medicine" found that wearing compression tights enhanced overall circulation to the legs and therefore decreased energy expenditure at prolonged speeds. Wearing compression running tights could help stave off tired runner's legs when you have longer runs or races planned, potentially giving you an extra edge.
While the wind resistance form a pair of running shorts is likely minimal, running tights can decrease the drag you could experience from wearing gear with more fabric. In his book "The Rough Guide to Running," Lloyd Bradley notes that tights can help reduce wind resistance and are often contoured so that your clothes never affect your overall stride. When you're focused on time and performance, every little bit helps, so it could be worth test-driving a pair of running tights to see if you notice a difference.