So you've invested in a good pair of running shoes. Don't put your wallet away just yet - it's just as important to wear the right socks to prevent blisters. Specialist running socks are ideal - they're designed to keep your feet warm, dry and blister-free. Avoid socks with toe seams, as these can cause blisters. Some socks, such as 1000 mile socks, have been designed to prevent blisters by reducing friction. Socks with extra padding around the heel and ball of the foot will of course give extra cushioning and warmth.
Supple nylon shorts allow freedom of movement
Running shorts made of supple nylon are ideal. They are light, soft, allow airflow and you'll avoid any rubbing or sore spots, plus they are shaped to give complete freedom of movement. Some runners prefer tight lycra shorts, like those worn by sprinters, to prevent chafing and provide support. 'Skorts' are becoming increasingly popular among female runners.
As we explained in Basic principles
, it's best to avoid cotton. Many runners wear Polypropylene vests and t-shirts. This man-made fabric is lightweight even when wet and wicks sweat away from the skin to the outer layer of the garment where it can evaporate, keeping you comfortable and dry. I look out for ones made from recycled materials - Patagonia make some good ones.
Base layer/long sleeve top
Again, many people wear Polypropylene long sleeved tops. You can buy these in different thicknesses. Other people prefer natural wonder-fibre, Merino wool. There are pros and cons to both fabrics, for example Polypro wicks well but is prone to smelling. Merino is warm when wet but is usually more expensive.
If it's cold, running tights are an ideal choice. Supportive and stretchy, they won't dangle in the mud or puddles and they won't chafe. Some men prefer to wear shorts over the top so they look less like tights!
Winter weight tights are also available - these have a thermal fleece lining and sometimes windproof panels for added insulation.
It's best to wear layers in winter
Lightweight, showerproof and wind resistant jackets are very useful for running. They are usually made from Ripstop Nylon or the mor expensive Pertex. You may also wish to buy a lightweight waterproof-breathable jacket. Something made from Gore-Tex's latest fabric, lightweight Active shell, or similar would be ideal.
A popular, lightweight alternative to a weatherproof jacket is a sleeveless gilet. They are great for milder winter days when worn over a long sleeve. One downside is that you can't tie them round your waist if you get too hot.
Covering the hands and the head is essential in cold conditions. It's well-documented that most heat loss occurs in these areas. Fleece hats and gloves are very warm and often wind resistant. Buffs are very versatile and useful - they can be folded into headbands, hats, scarves and so on.