Dressing for summer running is easy: less is more! But if you live in the northern US like me, you’ve probably realized that it’s officially fall, and that means A+ running weather! But it also means the temperature is fluctuating like crazy.
I often marvel at the differences in how runners dress for weather. A few weeks ago I was enjoying a run on a dry 50 degree morning wearing shorts and two top layers: one short sleeve and one long sleeve technical shirt. I passed a woman running in pants and a winter parka.
A thigh-length, fur rimmed parka.
I instantly felt the urge to have a What-Not-To-Wear-Style intervention. But rather than forcing a stranger into confrontation I thought, hello – Running Fashion Police: Weather Edition!
Since there’s so much information to consider, we’ll talk about this in two parts. The next part will discuss bottoms and accessories, but in light of Ms. Parka’s dire need for advice today we wanted to get right into tops.
One thing newer runners sometimes forget is that it’s important to check the weather before heading out the door. Before you dress, check the temperature by looking at the current conditions and hourly forecast. Checking the precipitation is much harder–you need to cross the room, open the shades and look out the window. Once you have the information, you’re ready to put some clothes on!
Choose your weapon, road warrior.
There are so many different kinds of tops it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but once you break it down it’s not so bad. The basics are: sport bra, singlet/tank, short sleeve tech shirt, long sleeve tech shirt, baselayer, thermal top, and jacket. Phew!
Sport Bra: This staple in your running collection needs no introduction. As we love to say on Salty Running, don’t be afraid to go shirtless (just don’t go shirtless in white) as long as you are comfortable-I run this way almost every day from May through September.
Singlet: Singlet is just a fancy word for tank top. These can be tight, like long sport bras or looser-fitting, more like a jersey. Some singlets have built-in sport bras, and are called “shimmels” by retailers to denote this. Singlets are available in a wide range of fabrics, and I find the best are lightweight tech fabric like this Aero Tank from Oiselle. For me if it’s warm enough for a singlet, it’s warm enough for a sport bra, but it’s a great modesty touch for the gym, for aprés-run, or if you just want to cover your tummy.
Tech shirts: Whether long- or short-sleeved, tech shirts are definitely a running drawer standby. Light material that doesn’t get heavy with sweat, what a marvelous invention! If you aren’t sure what tech fabric is, check out your local running store-basically though, if your running shirt doesn’t feel like cotton, it’s probably a tech shirt.
Baselayer: A baselayer can be designed to be worn under other clothing or it may be intended as outerwear; the best do both jobs equally well. The key is that it is tight enough to wear another layer comfortably on top. UnderArmour is known for their baselayers, but popularity doesn’t always mean quality, so shop around to find what’s right for you. My collection includes UA in addition to Nike, Avia and some off-brands.
Thermal top: One of the keys to running outside when it gets cold is having the right gear–not a parka! A good thermal top will change your life. And since it’s worn over other layers and winter sweat is scarce, you really only need 1 or 2 of these to get through a week of running. It’s always best to shop at your local running store, but for these I wouldn’t buy any other way since your idea of “cold weather top” may be very different from an online retailer.
Jacket: You may have a broader definition, but I think of a jacket as a water-resistant top layer. Jackets can vary in warmth, from lightweight tech material to cozy fleece. I have a few very lightweight jackets that I wear when it rains or snows and I layer other tops underneath as needed.
Just in case you’re still overwhelmed, I’ll share a piece of information that helps me keep it simple: the “+20° Rule.” At some point in my running past I read you should dress for running as if the weather is 20° warmer than it is. This helps account for the fact that you will warm up and generate heat as you run. And that’s easy to remember!
If you liked today’s post, make sure to stop by next week, when Rosemary will talk about how to cover your butt (literally) in every weather condition!
How do you decide what to wear when the weather changes? What are your favorite cold or hot weather running tops?