What to Wear When Running: The Gear You Need To Start Running

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What to wear when running, whether short or long distances, can play a big factor in your level of enjoyment and comfort during your run.  

Here’s one thing you should know: you don’t need to spend a fortune on running gear. However, when considering “what should I wear running?” there are some must-have items for a great running experience that many runners don’t acknowledge.

I mean… you’ve had a blister right? Not fun.

So, to prevent those and some other not-so-fun situations we’re going to talk about what you need to wear while running.

More specifically… We’ll discuss clothing materials that are best for runners, and the perfect running shoes to put a halt to those pesky blisters.

What to Wear When Running: The Gear You Need To Start Running 1

The Best Materials to Wear While Running

There are a couple of rules of thumb when searching for what to wear running. Some materials can be more harmful to the environment, harder to clean, and simply not equipped for running conditions compared to others. 

  • Nylon is mildew resistant and, of course, stretchy. When jogging down the street you don’t want your clothes to be stuck and clinging to your body; Nylon material prevents that from happening.
  • Spandex and Lycra materials are similar to Nylon in that they’re both stretchy and comfortable. They’re both nicely-ventilated so you won’t stay sticky during your run.
  • Wool material is great for cold-weather runners. Or, if you’re in the Canadian neck of the woods and want to run the world’s longest trail. Wool blocks air from getting in and therefore keeps you nice and insulated.
  • Microfiber or Polyester will help quickly evaporate sweat, especially when running in the heat, and limit chafing (and let me tell you… you definitely don’t want chafing).

Related: How To Deal With Chafing and Running

what to wear when running

Best Shorts to Wear While Running

Here are the features you’ll want to mull over when selecting a pair of running shorts:

  • Length
  • Liner and seams
  • Pockets
  • Material (as I mentioned in the previous section)

When running cross country, many male and female runners wear brief bottoms for the run. This prevents chafing, and unformattable scenarios (like rashes) while running long distances. Having a pair for steaming hot months and freezing cold weather will serve you well.  

In hot weather, shorter shorts can provide a lot of relief from the heat – you just have to be sure you have some other way to protect your skin from burning or chafing. 

Sometimes the liner and/or seams of your shorts can cause irritation while you’re running as well. The best way to know if this will happen is to try the shorts out on a quicker run before you have a go at a long distance run. If either one bothers you, you can always go with a tighter pair of Spandex shorts to alleviate the problem. 

Related: How To Start Exercising Again 

what to wear when running

Pockets: here’s why they’re important. You don’t want your car keys jangling upon your neck, weighing you down as you run nor should you hold two earbuds for a 15-mile-long run. 

Find some shorts with pockets, preferably located on the backside of the shorts as to prevent bulkiness in the front. Additionally, you could opt for a running belt or vest… but more about that later. 

Lastly, make sure your shorts are lightweight, because… you need to be quick on your feet while running…you don’t need any extra pounds. 

Of course, shorts are not the only option for running. Below are some alternatives you can wear. 

What to Wear When Running: Pants

what to wear when running

If you’re reading this and you’re doing a lot of cold weather running, then you’re probably thinking, There’s no way I’m wearing shorts on my run! you have plenty of other options. 

Here’s what else you might look to layer on for your runs:

  • Leggings
  • Compression shorts with high running socks
  • Leggings and shorts on top

All these combinations offer full protection against harsh weather and create a pleasant running experience. Decathlon, and Meriwool offer plenty of durable, yet affordable running pants.

Running Tops and Jackets to Wear While Running

what to wear when running

Refer back to the top section when I mentioned the materials to look for. You’ll want any kind of active fit made from Nylon, Spandex, or Merino Wool (for winter). Running tops made of plastic soak up sweat, and release microplastics when washed. For the sake of the environment, you may want to stay away from those.

Go with loose textures for your top, as you don’t want to constantly be pulling your shirt down while you run. In colder months, layers are always beneficial, and it’s always a safe bet to have a lightweight, wind resistant, and waterproof jacket. 

Consider Patagonia Houdini or Asics Packable jacket. The advantage of the Asics packable jacket is that it’s so easy to compact into a small compartment. So if you get too hot, you can always package it up and stuff it in your pocket. 

what to wear when running

What to Wear While Running: For Women

Finding the right sports bra is a game-changer. Here are some to try out:

  • Panache and Chantelle Ultimate sports bras have wireframing, butmake sure to get your precise size as it fits quite snugly
  • Brooks Fiona bra is equipped with adjustable straps for a secure fit
  • Shapeshifters Inc has custom made bras if you’ve ever had a difficult time finding the perfect fit

When selecting the perfect sports bra, these are the most important elements to make sure of: security and coziness.

what to wear when running

What Shoes to Wear While Running

Imagine this… you walk into the shoe store and see all the options…shoes for motion control, stability, and support. 

What to wear while running? 

Where to start?

Don’t worry, this section will discuss the best running shoes to fit your needs. 

The right running shoes could prevent certain injuries like runner’s knee, shin splints, and ankle sprains so be sure to invest in a proper pair. 

When assessing shoe features while you’re doing your shopping, take these features into account:

  • Tread
  • Cushioned vs lightweight
  • Reflective surface
what to wear when running

What type of runner you are plays a factor in which shoes will be best for you. For example, if the tread at the bottom of your gym shoes is worn quite consistently from toe to heel, then your arches are neutral. If you find more wear towards the outside of your shoe, then your arch is higher.

It’s best to understand what type of arch you have prior to shoe shopping so you can get the right shoe based on your arch. 

Runners who don’t run every day can get away with a more lightweight shoe, but if you’re someone who runs consistently and for long durations, you’ll need a pair with some hefty cushions. This feature protects wear and tear against your heels.

If you’re ever running at night, reflective surfaces ensure you’ll be seen and safe.

Alternatively, you can also shop for shoes based on running activities. Check out this more in-depth guide on how to choose running shoes for further information.

Running Insoles

what to wear when running

The right shoe can only do so much for your specific needs. Sometimes running insoles are needed to cut down foot fatigue, increase your running cadence, and support your arches.

Additionally, insoles can act as a relief if you already have any sort of running injury. Opt for a dynamic, running-specific insole design to increase comfort, while improving pressure distribution. 

You’ll want your insoles to keep your feet comfortable while providing you with all the support you need. You definitely don’t want to deal with arch issues later on in life. 

The Best Socks for Running

what to wear when running

You might not think twice about the type of socks you throw on before a run, but cotton socks certainly welcome blisters. Cotton absorbs moisture and becomes incredibly abrasive. 

Instead, try dual-layered socks. One layer rubs against the other, without experiencing any type of chafing. You could also test out materials like polyester, acrylic, and CoolMax to prevent those stubborn blisters.

On top of that, an increasingly popular sock trend to check out are toe socks. They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re certainly worth contemplating. 

Pro Tip: Try out Bodyglide lubricant for extra protection against blisters!

What Should I Wear While Running?- Accessories 


what to wear when running

Press play on Lose Yourself, by Eminem… 

Turn up the volume. 

A little louder. 

That’s perfect…the spark of energy from your Airpods catapults you forward as you breathe the crisp spring air, and trot past the giant pine trees. 

Running just isn’t the same without music, let alone music with tangled-up headphone wires. Earbuds are my go-to when I need to put some extra pep in my step during my runs. I know what you’re thinking, But they always fall out! Try running with Airpods.  They may be the perfect solution. 

If ever that little voice in your head is doubting how much further you can go, or whether or not you should get out of bed, just crank up the volume!

Running Belt

what to wear when running

No pockets? Get yourself a snug running belt to fit all your small accessories and first aid equipment. You can find them for affordable prices at running stores or even places like Target or Walmart. For extra convenience, clip on your reusable water bottle to your belt so you don’t have to worry about carrying it. 

Thoughtfully selecting the right gear for your running activities and style can make or break your running experience. At the end of the day, you need to be comfortable and take care of your body for future running! 

If you’re just getting started, check out our free downloadable marathon training plans to jump start your runs.

what to wear when running
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Mia Kercher is a hiker, cyclist, and runner. After finishing her first marathon in 2013, she continued the sport but found a new passion in trail running. She now explores the glorious mountains in Portland, Oregon.

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