What should I be wearing for running?

When heading out for a run, you need clothing that allows you to move freely without compromising on performance. Everything from shoes and socks to shorts, shirts and hats will keep you comfortable and protected from the elements. Running apparel doesn’t need to be expensive, and putting a little thought into what you buy will pay off in the...long run. This guide covers the key features of running clothes, tights and shoes, equipping you with the info you need to make the right choice.


How do I pick the right running shoes?

Picking the right running shoes is essential for enjoyment, comfort, and injury prevention. The surface you run on will determine the type of tread you require. Look for shoes that support the shape of your foot and have cushioning to reduce the impact of landing. 

When you run, your feet experience landing shocks of up to 2.5 times your body weight. Cushioned shoes reduce the impact but the more padding, the bulkier the shoe. When you try on running shoes, look for a good balance of comfort and weight, so consider where you’ll be running. Trail running calls for shoes with thicker, deeper treads. Track or treadmill running is easier with flatter and lighter shoes. For mixed terrain, all rounders like The North Face Oscillate Shoes ensure grip on uneven ground, in both dry and wet conditions, and include a dual-density midsole for enhanced support.

A quality running shoe demands areas of flexibility and rigidity which is why you should try before you buy. The correct fit prevents the foot from sliding around in the shoe, reducing discomfort. Breathable fabrics in the upper parts of the shoe will keep your feet cool, too.


What clothing do I need for running?

For running, you need clothes that are lightweight, flexible, and breathable. Your socks, shorts, and shirt should allow you to move freely and allow sweat to evaporate. Avoid baggy trousers and garments made from cotton which can cause uncomfortable chafing.

The best clothes for running will keep you comfortable as you move. Good running socks have extra padding and seamless designs to reduce friction and prevent blisters (a runner’s worst enemy!). The fabric should allow for adequate ventilation, like the mesh panels on the The North Face Run Light Elite. These low-cut socks also have cushioning on the ball and heel for extra comfort.

Running shorts and shirts are designed to be able to move with your body, with seams placed to avoid chafing. Cotton shirts are not advised for running, as they absorb moisture, becoming increasingly heavy and uncomfortable as you run. Technical, man-made fabrics wick moisture away from the body as you sweat, keeping you dry and cool. Extra features such as reflective panels are useful if you often jog when it’s dark.


What should I wear to run in the cold?

When you run in cold weather you should wear multiple layers of thin clothing made from breathable material rather than a single, thick coat or jacket. You can also consider wearing a hat and gloves to prevent excessive heat loss from the head and hands.

Running in the cold presents two challenges. You need to slow down the loss of thermal energy from the body. You also need air circulation to prevent the build up of sweat and overheating. Fleece hats and gloves keep you warm without absorbing sweat, making them ideal for exercising in the cold. A thick outer layer, by contrast, can lead to overheating. Instead, build up layers of soft, lightweight garments. This allows moisture to evaporate and also gives you the option of removing a layer when you start to warm up.


What are running tights? 

Running tights are designed to keep your legs warm without hindering performance. The close fit prevents drag as you run, decreasing friction and chafing for a more comfortable session. Running tights or leggings can also provide compression to aid recovery and reduce muscle soreness.

Running with cold muscles increases the chance of injury. Running tights help to maintain an optimum temperature without affecting the movement of your legs. The best running tights should be comfortable and snug fitting, allowing you to move without the fabric rubbing against your skin. Like other running clothes, breathable fabric will help keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The elasticity of the tights prevents excessive vibration of your muscles, reducing fatigue. Some tights are designed with varying degrees of compression in different parts of the leg. This prevents the build up of lactic acid, which is the main cause of muscle soreness after exercise.

Running tights work well for both men and women. Men should look for a pair that won’t cause irritation, such as the seamless Pro Tights, which have a compressive fit and body-mapped patterns for extra ventilation. Women's running tights like The North Face Active Leggings have similar features and a fit designed for the female form.

Once you’ve filled your wardrobe with run-suitable apparel, you’re ready to hit the trails, pound some pavement, and run to your heart’s content. Happy running!