You may have read that I ran my first race of 2012 last weekend. The Universe must have known I was busy, because it just kept plopping writing material in my lap. I was standing in the bathroom line after warming up in shorts and a long sleeve tech-shirt on a sunny 45 degree morning. I was comfortable. Sweaty, even. One of my fellow runners looked at my apparel and said, “Aren’t your legs going to be cold?” I bit my tongue and smiled a little inside. What a great way to introduce the second major piece of running apparel we will all be choosing on a daily basis this fall and winter: bottoms!
Bottoms are the most straightforward and the first item I choose when dressing for a run. There are three basic types: shorts, tights and pants.
Pants: When purchasing running pants try to find a pair that is loose or semi-fitted and made of a tech fabric. I also like zippers at the ankles so I can get them off over my shoes. If pants are your thing you may wish to have more, but most people I know don’t need more than one good pair.
Tights: Running tights can be ankle-length (tights or long tights) calf-length (capri or 3/4 length) or even knee-length. I like tights for cooler weather because rain and snow can weigh down loose pants and tights make me feel fast even when the cold winter temps make me feel slow. How many pairs you need will vary based on how often you think you will run in them.
Shorts: As you will see below, I think shorts are the most versatile bottoms, which is why I have an overflowing drawer devoted to running shorts. I tend to wear both bun-huggers (tight-fitting shorts) and split shorts (looser fitting shorts) interchangeably, but if it is very humid or raining, I choose boy shorts without exception, as split shorts tend to get weighed down.
Another alternative for bottoms during in-between temperatures are calf sleeves (especially if you’re a dude and aren’t comfortable rocking capri-tights). Since my husband discovered calf-sleeves, his bottom wear decisions are much easier in spring and fall!
So you’re covered from neck to ankles. But, that’s not the saying… we need to get you covered from head to toe! Let’s take a look at some accessories for you hands, head, and feet.
Don’t discount hats, gloves, and socks. These small accessories can make a big difference.
Hats and gloves: If it is <45 degrees I usually wear a headband and gloves. You can experiment with different weights/materials to find what works for you at various temperatures. If it is raining, I throw on a baseball-style hat, since the bill keeps the rain out of my face.
Socks: Want to revolutionize your winter running? I have two tips for you. First, get some thermal socks. Balega, Smartwool and surely other companies make running socks from wool to keep your feet toasty. It makes a huge difference. Second, above the ankle socks may not be stylish, but they cover the space between your tights/pants and shoes. Open skin= cold. Try some higher socks and avoid a frosty rim around your ankle.
Arm-warmers: Arm warmers are like sleeves without the shirt, and they’re great when it’s chilly out, but you know you’re going to warm up enough to lose the sleeves early in your run. Or when you start early and know the temperature will increase during your run. They’re also helpful when you don’t want to carry another shirt or tie it around your waist. The selling point for me: it is a lot easier to strip a pair of these guys than a long-sleeved shirt with my bib pinned to it! After all, most races start in the morning and it’s only going to get warmer as the sun comes out! Sun + running = heat!
What criteria do you use to choose your running bottoms? How do you respond when someone comments on your choice of cool -weather running attire?