Whether you're a fashionista or a T-shirt-and-jeans kinda girl, you'll want to don the right clothes for your run workouts. Proper running attire covers all your important bits while offering support, a comfy and flattering fit as well as protection from the elements. You can still convey your personal style -- but not at the expense of function.
Leave your baggy T-shirts in the drawer and go for slim-fitting shirts and tanks made from technical fabrics. Apparel that sits close to the skin makes you more aerodynamic and comfortable. Choose fitted tops with minimal seams, as these could cause uncomfortable, stinging abrasions when they rub. Running shorts or tights are designed to keep you lithe and free when you run. Baggy sweats only drag you down and hold onto to any sweat, causing more opportunity for chafing and discomfort. Some tights and shorts feature a compression fabric and super snug fit that may reduce fatigue in the legs while increasing circulation.
Save your sexy lingerie for your hot date. Opt instead for a supportive sports bra that keeps the girls in place. Running shorts with built-in underwear are also appropriate and comfortable -- especially if all you have is a drawer full of lacy thongs.
Invest a little in your running clothes, and you'll experience benefits an old cotton shirt can't provide. Technical fabrics wick away sweat to help regulate your temperature. These clothes dry quickly, so you aren't weighed down by heavy, soggy duds. Most technical fabric is lightweight, so you can bundle up in multiple layers on cold mornings without feeling overdressed.
On a summer day, a dry-fit tank and shorts may be all you need -- as long as you have a good layer of sunscreen to go with it. In the winter, tights or, in some climates, capris, and a long-sleeve shirt may suffice. For temperatures below 40 degrees, you might need a specially designed running jacket with a slim fit that keeps heat inside your body. Gloves and a tight fitting run cap can also keep you warm on brisk days. Sun glasses and a visor should be worn in any season to protect your eyes and face from the sun's rays.
All sneakers are not the same. You'll want to get your stride analyzed by a running specialist -- most running stores offer this service for free -- so you get the right shoes for your particular gait. People tend to run with a pronated, or turned-in; supinated, or turned-out; or neutral gait. The type of shoe you choose depends on your gait -- if you pick the wrong shoes, you may experience unpleasant side effects such as shin splints, knee pain and plantar problems. Choose non-cotton socks for your runs as well. Look for synthetic fabrics that wick moisture to keep your feet blister free.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.