The Well Dressed Penguin
Almost every runner seems to start running in the
same outfit an old pair of sweatpants and an oversized T-shirt.
If you're shaped like I was, it's even better if that T-shirt is
long enough to cover your belly and your behind. I would have run
in a rain poncho if I had thought it would cover more of me.
Eventually it becomes clear that
being a runner means buying running clothes. Real running
clothes-shirts and shorts that are designed to work with a body
that is in motion and clothes that are made of materials that will
make you more comfortable.
Experienced runners will tell you
there are only two conditions in which we run: weather that is either
too hot or too cold. In either case, it also may be too rainy, too
windy, too dry, too humid, and so on. The conditions are rarely
High-quality running clothes are
designed to close the gap between the real conditions and the ideal.
They are designed to keep you cool, or warm, or dry. Different manufacturers
have different names for fabrics, such as CoolMax, Polartec, Dryline,
and Dri F.I.T. that accomplish this. They all try to perform the
same functions: to help the body control its temperature and to
keep your body dry.
Regardless of the outside temperature,
your body heats up with effort. In warm weather, a lightweight shirt
made of something like CoolMax will help pull the sweat away from
your body, allowing you to stay cool. In cold weather, that same
material worn under a wind-blocking shell will pull the moisture
away from your body to the next layer of clothing to help keep you
The same principle applies to every
piece of clothing you wear when you run, including shorts, socks,
and underwear. Look for words like "wicking," which simply means
drawing moisture away from the skin.
In cold weather the secret is to
layer lightweight garments so that the clothing works together to
keep you dry and warm. Materials like polypropylene and polar fleece
are designed to keep the body temperature steady, while wicking
the moisture away from your skin to the surface layer of clothing.
Because these fabrics wick rather than absorb moisture, your clothes
don't get soggy and heavy as you sweat.
At first, your new running clothes may not seem
as comfortable as that old pair of sweats and oversized T-shirt,
but in time you'll get used to the lightness and breathability of
these new clothes. And you may just find that you look REALLY good
in neon green!