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Clothing basics


The easiest way to categorize clothing is to separate it into summer and winter seasons.

The aim when choosing clothing is to be as comfortable as possible. When exercising hard outdoors it is important not to be too hot and become dehydrated, as this will affect performance. Equally, allowing the cold to penetrate will have a detrimental effect on your running performance.

Summer - Heat

Running in the heat requires less clothing, but the function of the materials you choose to wear is critical in staying cool, even in extreme temperatures.

The main decision you have to make is the material of the T-shirt you are going to be wearing. Traditionally, a cotton T-shirt has been the first choice but technological advances in materials have almost made this undesirable among discerning runners.


Cotton t-shirts are cheap and you probably have dozens of favorites in your closet, yet they are not your best choice. Though these t-shirts are very efficient at soaking up sweat as you run, but unfortunately they retain it, which makes them heavy and wet during exercise. Also they often have rough and uneven stitching which, in the wrong places, can often cause chafing and in extreme cases, bleeding. Technical wicking materials are the alternative to cotton. These high tech fabrics are designed to wick sweat away from the skin to the outer surface so it can easily evaporate. This means the shirt remains light, comfortable and keeps you cool in humid conditions. Although they will cost a little more than cotton tops their performance justifies the price difference as it's well worth investing for a comfortable cool run. New materials make running much more comfortable.

Winter - Cold

Winter weather is potentially problematic for runners - with the decrease in temperatures comes the added risk of muscle pulling chills. The challenge becomes finding the balance that is warm enough at the start of your run yet not so warm that you excessively sweat. To avoid not wearing enough while ensuring you haven't put too much on, try layering. This involves wearing a few layers of appropriate material clothing. With new, lightweight, warm, materials fewer layers are needed. This allows you to move freely and not be weighed down by heavy clothes. The number of layers will increase as the temps decrease. Lightweight layers should suffice - any more and your clothing will become too bulky and hinder your running action. The importance of good wicking fabric next to your skin becomes even more critical as the thermometer fall.


The base layer to any layering system should be of light material, preferable a wicking garment that will draw the sweat away from the body preventing any chill with trapped moisture. The garment should fit snugly next to your skin but not be too tight or restrictive. This is also the secret to a comfortable run in what to others seem like extreme conditions to be out running. Good base layers are made by B.O.A. (Built On Athletics). A good tip is to wear a half zip shirt as it allows you to regulate your temperature by unzipping for instant ventilation.

The second layer that covers the base layer should ideally be a wicking long-sleeved shirt. Sugoi makes one of my favorites in the Wired. Sugoi Tempo Shirt  In mild weather this will be your outer garment. In windy or colder conditions consider adding a shell. This layer should fit loosely over the first or second, creating extra air space for warm air to become trapped and act as insulation. In extreme cold, wear a fourth layer, being a fleece vest.

The top layer, a shell, can be worn in extreme cold conditions or when it is raining.

It should act as a protective outer shell while still allowing sweat to evaporate into the atmosphere. Try a lightweight, breathable water-resistant and windproof jacket. This should fit loosely over your other tops - if it's too tight it may reduce the effectiveness of your layering. It should also have adequate venting to allow moisture to escape.



If you are running outside during winter, a great deal of your running is likely to be done in the dark. As it' is very important to be visible to traffic in the dark. When buying new clothes it's a good idea to choose bright visible colors. Often clothing made specifically for running will have reflective seams or bands incorporated into the design. If not, lightweight reflective bibs can be worn over your top. The best line of reflective apparel that I have ever seen is illumiNITE. illumiNITE Silhouette Shell Refelective Jackets IllumiNITE provides you with unique head-to-toe reflectivity, making you fully visible to motorists. This performance is delivered without compromising functionality such as moisture management, breathability, weight and wind resistance.


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About the Author
Perry Dau is the owner of
Revel Sports, a specialty, on-line running store. Perry has been a runner and "silent sports" enthusiast for nearly 30 years.

Perry Dau can be reached at: perry[at]

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