Basic principles of running clothes
The basics of summer and winter clothing systems, including wicking, layering and reflective wear.

Basic principles of running clothes

The easiest way to categorise clothing is to separate it into summer and winter seasons - although in Britain the distinction is sometimes difficult to establish!

summer clothing
Summer runningSummer

Cotton t-shirts and shorts are cheap and you probably have dozens in your wardrobe but they are not the best choice for running in. Cotton is very efficient at soaking up sweat as you run, but unfortunately it retains it, which can make it heavy, uncomfortable and wet if you sweat during exercise.

Also cotton clothing often has rough seams which, in the wrong places, can often cause chafing. It's worth investing in techy fabrics that are designed to be lightweight, to dry quickly and are stitched in a way that allows free movement and doesn't chafe.

Don't forget the suncream, peaked cap and sunglasses, plus a bottle of water if you will be out for a while.


In cold weather we recommend wearing several lightweight layers. This is the secret to a comfortable run in what to others seem like extreme conditions to be out running.

Begin with a base layer, which should ideally fit snugly but not be too tight or restrictive. A zip-neck allows you to regulate your temperature by unzipping for instant ventilation. 
This is the secret to a comfortable run in what to others seem like extreme conditions to be out running.
The second (and third if you need another!) layer could be another base layer, but looser fitting, so it traps warm air, or perhaps a lightweight, weatherproof jacket. If it's really cold you could wear a lightweight synthetic insulated jacket or a fleece. If it's likely to rain heavily you may need to wear or carry a lightweight waterproof jacket with a hood.


If you're going to run in the dark on roads it is of course important to be visible to traffic. When buying jackets it's a good idea to choose bright visible colours. Often running-specific clothing will have reflective seams or bands incorporated into the design. If not, or for extra visibility, lightweight reflective bibs or jackets can be worn over your top.

For more detail on running clothing systems, see Running clothes - what to wear.


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