Preparing for race day looks different for every runner. As your next competition approaches, you might be researching the very best stretching techniques for runners, or checking out the best mid-marathon snack boosters to keep your energy levels high!
At some point, you’ll need to work out what you’re going to wear to run. Whether you’re prepping for your first 5k or taking your last few steps towards that marathon finish line, every runner’s wardrobe is different.
Your running outfit will depend entirely on the length, terrain and distance of your upcoming race. After all, what you wear for a 5k race in balmy Madrid is going to be very different to your marathon outfit for a drizzly September in the North of England - so make sure you research your own race conditions and climate.
More generally, our teams here at CRX have put their heads together to bring you the most important information on the best clothing to wear when you run. Using our background in elite sport science, we’ve created this guide to kitting out that competition wardrobe.
1. Lightweight Running Shoes
Given that your feet and ankles are going to be taking the brunt of the impact, proper running shoes with runners’ insoles are a must. Tibial and metatarsal stress fractures are all too common in athletes, and often described as the ‘runner’s worst fear’: as they’re hard to detect and can quickly become serious. These occur when muscles become fatigued and cannot absorb added shock, which is then transferred to the bone, causing a tiny crack.
To avoid this and other lower-limb injuries, lightweight running shoes with adequate running insoles are essential items of clothing for your next race. Running shoes should be appropriate for the terrain - road trainers are very different to cross-country shoes - but as lightweight and comfortable as possible.
Although many running shoes today come with their own insoles, our experts also recommend over-the-counter or custom orthotics to give your feet that much-needed pliable insole support. Available as foam or gel inserts (or even cork from one brand), you’ll need to test out what works for you in your training before the big race itself.
2. Compression Wear For Running
A must-wear for after your race (and a can-wear during!) compression wear is a runner’s best friend. Compression is highly prized by athletes, thanks to its ability to cut down recovery time, minimise the risk of injury and even improve performance.
By stimulating blood flow in key areas, oxygen-rich blood is delivered to the area, both energising it as well as flushing out lactic acid buildup. This then reduces swelling, often the cause of additional muscular pain, as it presses on pain receptors called nociceptors.
For runners, compression wear that targets the lower body is essential. Compression socks and compression calf sleeves target the hardworking extremities, ankles and calves; while compression shorts and compression tights target the larger smooth planes of muscle, like the glutes and quads.
3. Smart Watch
With the essentials taken care of, we turn our attention to the latest in health tech for our third and final suggestion for runners’ clothing. For athletes looking to improve on their best time, our experts recommend keeping an eye on your pace and performance by using a smart watch.
Various health technology companies, like FitBit, Apple Watch and Garmin, offer users the opportunity to view their health data in real-time, with information including step count, calories burned and heart rate - ideal for those serious about their sport. You can also use apps like MyFitness Pal, Fitness22, Google Fit and JEFIT Workout Tracker to check that you’re on track to smash those goals!
Using minute sensors, this wearable health tech can help runners looking to compete or improve on their best times to identify areas of difficulty in their training, ready for the race itself. Post-race, this data can help you to build on your performance for next time. In addition, runners benefiting from compression while running or post-race can identify improvements in performance - after all, the data doesn’t lie!
With information at your fingertips (or on your wrist), you’re fully prepared to set - and smash - those running goals.
To browse more essential information for runners, why not check out our Compression For Runners guide for more?