1. Wear whatever you want. Seriously, the point of this article is not to police what people wear. Comments on what others should or should not wear range from the rude to the absolutely vile and infuriating. So wear whatever you want, whatever feels good, and whatever you have. Rather, the point of this article is to highlight that there are certain ways you can impact your performance and experience positively or negatively by what you wear on the run.
  2. Free the knees. So first off, consider bottoms that allow full range of motion at the knee. So long, basketball style shorts can be problematic, as can loose fitting pants, particularly double-layer track pants where the layers tend to catch against each other. The reason for this is that many of us suffer from not enough range of motion in a running stride, and tend towards a bit of a shuffle. Wearing clothing that discourages bending the knee can aggravate this common concern. There is a reason track runners wear short shorts or running briefs, as it frees up the full range of motion of the leg. In colder weather, a tight is ideal versus a pant that might chafe at the knee if you take a full stride.
  3. The 10 degree rule. As the weather changes from warm to cool, knowing what to wear that will strike a balance between warmth and too much sweating can be difficult. What I have found helpful is to look at the current temperature, then wear what I would wear if it was 10 degrees warmer. So if it is 12 degrees Celsius, that means I dress for room temperature, not until it’s -10 Celsius do I dress equivalent of sub-zero temperatures. Although this means feeling a bit chilly at the start of runs, it does mean that you’ll be perfect once you’re warmed into it and won’t find yourself carrying piles of layers you’ve had to take off.
  4. Wear a device. This might be a running watch, but it might also or instead be a phone. There are a lot of arm bands available to hold phones, and free apps like Strava that let you record your ride. Tracking your runs is an essential first step to getting serious about your training progress.
  5. Wear the correct shoe. There’s no such thing as a standard running shoe. Rather, each shoe should be considered to serve a particular purpose. If you take a road racing shoe like the Saucony Type A onto the trails you’re asking for a twisted ankle and plantar pain. If you wear a highly vented triathlon running shoe like the Asics Gel-Noosa in the snow, you’re going to freeze your feet. So, decide ahead of time what the conditions are in terms of weather and surface, and wear the correct shoe. This will both prevent injury and make your run much more enjoyable.
  6. Don’t wear socks if you want to race sockless. In triathlon, racing sockless can save significant time in transitions, and tri specific bike and run shoes are designed for this. However, it takes your feet a fair amount of time to become accustomed to no socks, including the potential for some blisters initially. Therefore, if the first time you run sockless is in your race, you are asking for all kinds of trouble. Make sure you do some significant training without socks in advance of your race, in the shoes in which you plan to race.guelph-2015-3.jpg
  7. Wear chafing protection. Following on the preceding point, depending on the conditions and your outfit, there are a variety of chafing risks. I always put a bit of baby powder in my shoes and some body glide on my ankles and toes if running sockless. I also find that many of my heavier, loose fitting, or logoed tops require a bit of cream on my nipples. Anywhere else where you have experienced discomfort on the run, just put on a bit of body glide and you won’t even notice anymore.
  8. Wear water. So this one is going to depend on your distance and your route. I tend to plan long runs where I can get water along the way, however in the winter many of these fountains are turned off. Therefore, always be self-sufficient by bringing water with you. While some people are ok with just carrying water, I find a fuel belt style multi-bottle holster the most comfortable. For extreme distances or heavy sweating you can go with a hydration pack, however, these can be tough on the shoulders and induce significant back sweat.
  9. Wear athletic performance materials. The switch from cotton to a specialty sport fabric like dri-fit can be a game changer for new runners. Athletic performance materials are designed to pull water away from the body and promote rapid evaporation. This has a number of comfort benefits, such as temperature control, decreased chafing, and decreased weight. Prices can be prohibitive, but friends may have some old race shirts they can part with to support you in being comfortable.
  10. Wear sunscreen. Some times if you don’t you regret it the next day. Sometimes if you don’t you regret it decades later due to melanoma. Either way, do yourself the favour and make the right decision today to support your future.