Running in a cotton T-shirt and ratty gym shorts is certainly an option we've all chosen at some point or another. But a mile or two in, the shirt feels damp and heavy and the shorts start riding up — not exactly optimal for good performance.
To run and feel your best during training sessions, your workout clothes may need an update. But you don't need to splurge on a heap of running clothes right away. All you need is a few essentials to get you started, like a breathable running top, compressive leggings that stay put and some inclement-weather wear, just in case.
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But with so much running clothes and gear on the Internet, creating the perfect runner's wardrobe can feel intimidating — especially when you're a new runner. Take the guesswork out of the equation with this guide to exactly what to wear running, complete with 14 expert-recommended staples.
Most companies make and market running clothes according to gender, so we have listed both women's and men's picks below. The main difference is the fit. However, materials, quality and comfort should be the same between gender-labeled pairs.
Your shorts get the most wear out of your running clothes, according to Matthew Meyer, RRCA run coach and Custom Stomp athlete. "So, it's important to find something super comfortable that you can spend plenty of miles in."
Look for a pair of running-specific shorts made out of breathable, sweat-wicking fabric, so they won't slow you down, he recommends. Shorts with a liner and drawstring offer extra ventilation, comfort and a personalized fit. When it comes to warm-weather runs, that's what you want to wear.
But on cooler days, leggings are the way to go. Leggings are also a great option if you struggle with chafing or skin irritation. Look for a pair with a wide waistband and snug, compressive fit.
Twilight Split Shorts
"Tracksmith makes my favorite running shorts out there, their Twilight Split Shorts," Meyer says. "They're made of a soft and comfortable fabric with internal pockets to hold gels, keys and more."
WOLACO Fulton Tights
Nothing slows down a long, intense run like a pair of tights that shift with every stride. That's why WOLACO's leggings deserve a place in your shopping cart, according to Luke Lombardo, RRCA-certified running coach and IronMan triathlete.
These fit like a glove, he says, and won't move around during your workout, thanks to their thick elastic waistband. And unlike other tights on the market, these have compression pockets that will hold your keys and phone snug against your body.
No matter your personal preference — short sleeve, tank or singlet — it's all about the anti-chafe factor when choosing a running top, according to Joe Holder, a USATF-certified track and field coach and Nike+ Run Club coach.
Wondering what shirt to wear while jogging? Find one that absorbs moisture and wicks sweat. That will help prevent unwanted irritation to your nipples and armpits, he says.
Nike Miler Short-Sleeve Running Top
This men's and women's Nike tee offers plenty of ventilation and pulls sweat off your body to keep you cool and dry. And if you don't love this length, you can try the tank version of this shirt, too.
Adidas Own the Run Tee
This Adidas' men's and women's shirt is a simple running essential for every runner's closet. Apart from being breathable, it also has reflective details to keep you safe during late-night runs.
No matter the size of your chest, it's important to have a sports bra that can keep up with the miles you're putting in.
You want something supportive with light padding, so that your chest doesn't feel too restricted, according to Jess Movold, an RRCA-certified run coach.
Nike Dri-Fit Swoosh Medium-Support Sports Bra
Movold loves this Nike bra for medium-impact, steady runs. For more intense sessions (like intervals), she likes a higher-impact option.
Buy it: Nike.com; Price: $30
Outdoor Voices Doing Things Bra
Movold loves this Outdoor Voices bra for high-impact, more intense runs. Available in six different colors, this bra has a lightweight fabric and a mesh racerback for extra breathability.
Buy it: Outdoorvoices.com; Price: $58
Running Jackets and Vests
Wondering what to wear running in cold weather? The answer: layers. Vests keep your core warm without sacrificing ventilation, Garcia says. Layer yours over your favorite sweatshirt or long-sleeve tee and easily slip it off when your run gets too sweaty.
Jackets are another option if you want more coverage. Opt for a water-resistant jacket with a hood in case you get caught in the rain. Also try and find a jacket with plenty of pockets for your phone and keys.
UA OutRun the Storm Jacket
An unexpected drizzle is no match for Under Armour's water-resistant jacket. "As someone who lives in Seattle, I can appreciate a good water-resistant jacket for running," Melissa Garcia, DPT, CSCS, says. "Especially one with material that also breathes well."
Unlike most water-repelling coats and jackets, this one has a ventilated back to prevent that humid, sticky feeling mid-run.
Brooks Shield Hybrid Vest
The Brooks shield vest is a lightweight, insulated option that keeps in your body heat without weighing you down.
It's also equipped with two large zipper pockets for your phone and keys. And if you pop into a coffee shop or grocery store, you can even store your running earbuds in the mini side pocket.
Just because the temperatures drop during some months of the year, it doesn't mean you can't run outside anymore — it just means you need to be prepared. For cool fall and winter runs, throw on a pair of gloves to keep your hands toasty and comfortable.
Smartwool Merino 150 Glove
These breathable Smartwool gloves wick sweat, while protecting your fingers from the cold. Garcia especially likes the index finger and thumb pads, so she can switch the song on her phone without even taking them off.
Buy it: Smartwool.com; Price: $30
Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove
On snowy runs, mittens are the way to go. They keep your fingers close together, which means more body heat and warmth for your hands. But while you're running, it's still nice to have access to your phone without slipping off your mittens. The solution: this mitten/glove hybrid.
Buy it: Ultimatedirection.com; Price: $49.95
This small piece of gear might not look like it would make much of a difference, but running socks are what help keep your feet dry, fresh and blister-free. In terms of thickness and sock height, it's a personal call depending on what feels comfortable to you.
Bombas Performance Running Calf Sock
Moldov loves Bombas' calf-height running socks for her jogging attire. They're lightweight, breathable and come in a fun mix of color, she says. Plus, the calf height helps prevent blisters and chafing on the back of your ankles.
Balegas are among the most popular running sock brands out there. And with their sweat-wicking fabric, comfortable cushion pads and slip-preventing heel tab, it's no surprise. They also come in a huge variety of colors and lengths if you don't love the no-show height.
Buy it: Balega-socks.impuls.com; Price: $15
What's the most important thing when it comes to buying running shoes? Despite all the technology out there, comfort is still the number-one priority, according to Holder. Uncomfortable running shoes means an uncomfortable run.
Hoka Clifton 8
When it comes to comfort, the Hoka Clifton is a good place to start. "I just bought my ninth pair," says Meyer. "They're light, supportive, comfortable and give me plenty of protection from the hard pavement! I love that it's a workhorse shoe I can put huge miles into, but it's also fast enough for strides and speed work."
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2
Garcia dubs this one of the best Nike running shoes for underpronation (aka supination). Its sturdy, supportive construction provide the arch support fit supinators often need.