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.
Go for Warmth
One of the most obvious benefits of opting for tights over shorts or even sweatpants is the warmth they offer during the colder months. In the "old" days sweatpants were the thing. But they were also bulky and tended to flap around your legs. 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, says Penn Medicine, so you stay warm — but not too warm — to continue training through temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Protection From the Elements
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.
The National Ski Patrol says that long underwear is fine for layering under other pants for cold weather workouts, but garments such as tights, allow for better performance and fit.
Compression Running Tights
Running tights made from compression fabrics fit like a second skin on your legs, giving you extra support and increasing circulation to the legs. ACE Fitness says compression running tights help not only with better circulation, but they help remove the metabolic waste from your muscles.
Wearing compression tights enhances overall circulation to the legs and therefore decreases energy expenditure at prolonged speeds. Long-distance runners also benefit by staving off tired runner's legs when you have longer runs or races planned, potentially giving you an extra edge.
Resistance From the Wind
It would be nice if every run could take place in calm weather: no wind, no rain. But since that will hardly ever be the case, running tights can decrease the drag you could experience from wearing gear with more fabric while running in the wind.
Just like race cars that are designed to cut through the wind, 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.
- ACE Fitness: "Top Strategies for Optimal Recovery Between Workouts"
- American Association for the Advancement of Science: "Study Reveals Compression Tights Don't Help Runners Cross Finish Line"
- Penn Medicine: "Running in Cold Weather: Tips for Staying Warm and Preventing Injury for Long Distance Runners"
- National Ski Patrol: "How to Dress for Winter Outdoor Recreation"