5 Reasons to Bust out the Running Tights Now!

Friday 5I know. I know. it was just a few weeks ago that Eucalyptus was convincing you to hold off on busting out the tights this fall. And then just yesterday Rocket was convincing you to race in spankies. However, I’m an older wiser Pepper and I have to admit I’ve come a long ways since my fall and winter singlet and buns wearing ways.

For a long time wearing shorts long after all my running compatriots were wearing tights was like a bad ass badge of honor (hello Michigan state cross country meet my Freshman year in neon orange shorts in the snow). In fact, ask my friends, I’m known for stripping layers one mile into most fall and winter runs, so don’t take my Friday five advice lightly when I tell you, sometimes tights are all right, even when it isn’t below 32 F.

So here are 5 reasons it might be ok to wear tights before it’s freezing!

1. Black and blue doesn’t look good on you.  If you’re like me and you’ve decided to try an new abusive sport this fall … ahem cyclocross … your legs may look like a rainbow of yellows, purples, blacks and blues. Capris and tights look great and cover up those results of your clumsy ways (and protect your significant other from suspicious looks!)

Covered in calamine? Forgot to shave? Tights to the rescue! (Note these are not my legs!)
Covered in calamine? Forgot to shave? Tights to the rescue! (Note these are not my legs!)

2. You need something to catch the ooze. Been spending too much time on the trails and ran into some poison ivy? Or perhaps, like me, your husband is fond of flying his RC planes into trees covered in ivy and shaking them down? (What? You really can’t relate to that?!) A nasty case of poison ivy needs something to cover it up – a good time to opt for the tights!

About 13 out of 20 crazy winter runners opt for tights!
In this very scientific study, I discovered that 13 out of every 20 runners opt for tights when there’s snow on the ground!

3. You’re a lower body freeze-baby. Sure the extra material may steal a bit of speed through friction, but have you noticed that body heat seems to stem mostly from the top half during runs? The first places you get warm on a run? Head and torso for sure. I’ve stripped enough long sleeves and jackets to know. It took some time, but I’ve come around to the fact that warm legs doesn’t make you a pansy! So don those 3/4 tights and instead of a jacket wear a short sleeve with arm warmers until you inevitably warm up after the first mile of your run. Your legs will remain toasty and wind burn free, but you wont have to wrap that jacket around your waist!

4. That damn shorts liner keeps chafing you. Tights = less chafing, less windburn, and all around happier skin when temps are borderline. I cannot tell you how many cold yet comfortable runs in shorts I have come home from only to suffer from rosy red and swollen wind burn legs in the post run shower.

5. You want to accentuate your best ass-ett.  Best reason to don capris or tights before it’s below 40 degrees? Girl, you look great in them! Nothing flatters a fit behind like spandex! Added bonus they also look great when you’re galavanting around town doing your post-run errands.

Note the pretty shiner on the right quad. Looks badass in CX, maybe not so much while out for a neighborhood jog. Photo Courtesy Eric Gibb
Note the pretty shiner on the right quad. Looks badass in CX, maybe not so much while out for a neighborhood jog. Photo Courtesy Eric Gibb

How about you? When do you bust out the tights? 

A gal on a mission to save Cuyahoga County streams one storm water facility at a time. An ex runner of many facets including marathons, pacing, ultras and more. Chronic left side issues have me cycling more than running these days but I'm attempting to get back to my running roots.

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  1. ummm I think you just triggered my poison ivy PTSD with #2 🙂 boyfriend and I had a ROUGH summer of PI… thank God it’s all dead now!!! (uhh… hopefully)

    1. I’m currently on a serious round of prednisone as a result of the tree climbing incident, and it is no fun! thankfully itching is gone but I am not a fan of the steroid side effects! I made it 31 years without poison ivy, I wish I had my immunity back!!!

  2. I am 100% with you here. I wear shorts rarely to never – and I can count the number of marathons I’ve run in shorts on one finger. Maybe I’m just not fast, but I feel faster in a nice pair of lululemon cropped running pants, plus they have super-pockets where I can fit a few gels, my iPhone, a five, and my laptop. Just kidding about the laptop.
    Also, tights make me way less conscious of my 30 year old thighs. It was 26 degrees on my run yesterday. I wasn’t only wearing tights, I also threw on a bra, tank, hoodie and windbreaker. And I still got cold. Even on a hills-workout day.

  3. I’m with you! Maybe it’s a BTDT kind of thing, but I am so over trying to be some sort of bad ass and all about embracing my inner-wuss and doing what’s comfortable, at least when it comes to dressing for running. I am all about the capris in the 40s. I find they feel great with a t-shirt and gloves. I think it’s more comfortable than a long sleeve and shorts, personally and I don’t care that my younger self would have laughed at me for covering up my legs in weather this “not cold!”

  4. Ha! I’m with Eden!
    I broke out the capris/tights several weeks ago and haven’t looked back. Then again, we’ve been lucky to get highs in the 40s for the month of October, and it snowed on the first day of fall, so I’m thinking tights are justified for most of the year in Alaska based on temperature alone!

  5. I’d always rather be a little cold than a little hot. Shorts down to about 27 degrees here. It’s Minnesota and it’s late October, so I’m trying to savor every day of shorts wearing weather that remains this season!

    1. I’m the same way Robyn! It wasn’t until the past few years that I had the epiphany that the difference between the tights and shorts on my whole body temperature and comfort had no effect. For me it’s the upper body wear that overheats/annoys me. I came home from so many runs windburn when I was a cold weather shorts weather, I know my thigh skin is thanking me for changing my ways 🙂 I will note that I still tend to prefer shorts over tights on the bike for cyclocross when the weather is iffy though. The legs must get warmer pushing pedals than pounding the pavement I guess!