Great ladies running clothes and gear?
April 22, 2009 8:06 PM   Subscribe

Great ladies running clothes and gear?

Amateur running looking to get out there 3-4 times a week (for 3-5 miles each time). I'm looking to get some more gear but don't really know much about what I should be looking for. My challenge is adjusting to weather that is often cold/wet/windy when I start out and then feels warm pretty quickly once I get moving.

I really don't know what I should be looking for in "good" running gear, since I've always just used old sweats or discount off-label workout clothes like those you can get at TJ Maxx. I'd like to get your recommendations here and then look for them at online discounters. Basically, I'm looking for favorite brands and advice features to look for in:

1. tops
2. pants
3. outer layers
4. workout bag
5. accessories (fanny pack, etc.)

Bonus if you can recommend a great padded sports bra (size A here). Thanks!
posted by mintchip to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Title Nine
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:15 PM on April 22, 2009

Under Armor made my favorite running shorts. They don't make the particular style anymore, though. I had a pair of asics tights that lasted through 2 high school track seasons, 2 college track seasons, and a winter of 3-5x/week running. Plain fleece gloves work great for me in the winter. I also sometimes wore these $1.99 kids gloves from the grocery store. Anything I could wipe my nose on was good for me.

Wear as little cotton as possible, ideally none. Especially do not wear cotton socks. Wear wool instead; it doesn't hold odors like synthetic materials.

A good rule of thumb I have ran by for 7+ years is to dress like it's 15-20 degrees warmer than it really is. Feeling warmer once you start running isn't a problem. If you really, really don't want to be cold, even for 10 or 15 minutes then you could try wearing a jacket, stashing it somewhere (behind a bush or tree or something), running a loop, and coming back for it at the end. I will do almost anything to avoid wearing something around my waist but if you don't mind that, it's another option.

Have fun out there!
posted by thewestinggame at 9:34 PM on April 22, 2009

Go for technical fabrics, such as Coolmax, DriFit etc - yes they are expensive and worth every penny. As the discounts are usually for last seasons styles and colours, you can still pick them up on special.

The running specific ranges in brands such as Nike, Adidas, New Balance are all good, it depends on what style you feel most comfortable in. For summer, typical running style shorts of a light (tech) fabric which are loose and have overlapping fabric and side splits are popular for a reason - they are very comfortable. If you have a tendancy to chafe (usually only if your thighs rub together, or in very humid conditions), then bike-style nicks (made for running - no chamois or cheap lycra) are good. Longer versions (to the knee or 3/4 length) are good for cooler weather.

With an A-cup, I'd stick to a well fitted crop bra and no other top for hot weather, or a running singlet with a built-in shelf bra. The design of the straps and fabric will make a difference when you are running. Some also have small zippered pockets for keys and cash.

For cooler weather, you can wear a long sleeve T - but again make sure that it 'wicks' moisture away. I'm a wimp starting off in the cold, so often have a long sleeve top to begin with, but soon pull the sleeves up, and then take the top off and wrap it around my waist while running. A long zip at the front help. Some very light fleece tops made for cycling are good for this, and have thumb loops.

For much colder conditions you can't beat gloves and covering your head. Again, be prepared to take them off as you warm up and know that you can stuff them in the waist band of your shorts or whatever.

Most importantly, don't skimp on socks (and shoes). Although one can find reasonable socks made of coolmax at places like Target, avoid cotton like the plague. Thorlo is a reliable brand with many styles. Those prone to blisters find that some coolmax socks inside Thorlos often help.

I hate carrying anything more than is essential too, and especially around my waist. For runs of 3-5 miles, you probably can get by without drinks unless the weather is exceptionally humid. Look for shorts, tights and tops with have small pockets for storage of keys, or even a small cell phone on the run.

Some small neoprene waist packs are available especially for runners which are handy if you are running away from home and need to carry unwieldy hotel keys, a small camera etc.

Enjoy your running, and looking at running (and cycling) specific gear to see what suits you best. Get rid of cotton and you'll find that you will enjoy your running even more!
posted by Flashduck at 12:56 AM on April 23, 2009

I love these Brooks shorts.

Pearl Izumi makes great tights with a fleece-lined butt and a big pocket for keys and gu and even a cell phone.

Moving Comfort bras are my favorite (I'm also a solid A).

Long sleeves don't get more comfortable (or cute) than these.

Ooohhhh, and speaking of socks, there are these great new bamboo/wool blend socks that wick and are environmentally friendly from Feetures.

And a great place to get discount running clothes is RNJ Sports.

Everything that flashduck and thewestinggame said is absolutely true. Avoid cotton. Invest in "technical" gear. Dress like it's about 20 degrees warmer than it is (unless there's a lot of wind, in which case, anything goes. I live in a windy climate and have been seriously schooled by the wind.).

More importantly, have fun!!!
posted by cachondeo45 at 4:48 AM on April 23, 2009

I have 3 pairs of SmartWool running socks. Those are the only socks I will run in.
posted by collocation at 6:30 AM on April 23, 2009

Title Nine specializes in women's athletic clothing.

Also, be aware that, in addition to shorts and tights, there are now running skirts out there. (They have an undershort that is longer and tighter than anything you'd be likely to wear as stand alone shorts.) Some people love them. I've only tried one so far, and am OK with it but not blown away, but YMMV.
posted by kestrel251 at 6:35 AM on April 23, 2009

Go to a real runners' store for your shoes, where an experienced person will find the right pair for you. Don't be surprised if your running shoes are a size bigger than your usual shoes (that's normal) or if you're paying well over $100 (also normal). I run in a cheap skort from Target, but I pay whatever's necessary for good shoes. If you say where you are, maybe someone could recommend stores in your area.

Here in Seattle, Superjock 'n Jill is a great store. They take time to find the right shoes and can also help with the rest of your running gear.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:40 AM on April 23, 2009

When it's just a little cold out, I'll often "preheat." I put on a big coat as I walk around the house before my run. Maybe I'll dink around online, do a few chores, look for something I can't find. After warming up a little, I can start a run appropriately dressed for the warmer part of the run.
posted by advicepig at 7:35 AM on April 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

Here's what I do, for my approximately-once-daily 3-5 mile runs. I'm about to spit out brand names which I generally hate to do, but good running gear really does make a difference so I guess I'll deal!

In the winter:
-Under Armor running tights ("ColdGear")
-Under Armor running shirt (also ColdGear)
-Under Armor sports bra (I'm size D, and these seem to work pretty well)
-Smartwool base layer (long-sleeved), if it's really REALLY cold, or an ancient puffy winter vest that was given to me when I was 7 if it's moderately cold (NO idea where it came from)
-REI windbreaker - extremely lightweight, made for running
-Smartwool liner gloves, or if it's really freezing, my Marmot Warmest Mitts
-Smartwool socks (I have 1 pair of official Smartwool running socks, but in my experience it doesn't really matter what kind you use as long as they're not the super-padded hiking socks - I've found that after a few years of running in Smartwool socks, the prospect of running in cotton socks is really disgusting)
-I run in a pair of New Balance 1022s
-I almost always wear a Buff (a microfiber "tube" that can be worn as a hat, earwarmer, balaclava, neckwarmer, etc - super lightweight, blocks wind surprisingly well, very warm, doesn't get in the way)
-I have a pair of Native sunglasses that don't fall off and are polarized

In the summer:
-I have a few pairs of cheap running shorts I picked up at EMS (not made of cotton, not so long that they restrict movement, not so short that people stare when I run through the city)
-Once in a while I'll run in some Under Armor short running tights
-I either run in a sports bra or some sort of extremely light Cool-Max tank top or t-shirt (I would recommend avoiding cotton t-shirts - SO uncomfortable in very hot weather - and although fitted running tops look cute and all, for comfort, I'd go with a very loose, super-light tank top over a sports bra any day, if you can't just run in the bra)
-No shoes :)
-When it's extra-hot out (90F+ and humid), I use this thing called a Kool Tie around my neck

Other Gear:
-I don't use any sort of gym bag, so if I really need to carry my running stuff with me I just put it in my backpack with everything else or put it in a reusable shopping bag, but I realize this is not very trendy
-I just make sure that either my shirt, or jacket, or pants, or shorts has one of those little inner key pockets to store a key and emergency money in, and then I don't have to bring any accessories whatsoever with me
-That said, I'm thinking about getting a heart rate monitor (one of the cheap Polar ones), and from what I hear, it can be a really useful tool
-Carrying anything while you run can mess you up because you're likely to restrict the movement of the hand/arm that's doing the carrying - I often bring an iPod with me while I run, and because I don't have an armband, I try to remind myself a lot that I should be running naturally, not holding the iPod still
posted by Cygnet at 7:49 AM on April 23, 2009

Honestly, a lot of it is practice. I've been running a few years now and I feel like only in the past year have I really found the clothes that I like. Try some different brands (hit running store sales) and you'll probably gravitate toward one or two. As others have mentioned, the most important thing is shoes. You'll get the rest as you go along and realize that you need a new pair of shorts or an extra layer or whatever.

Also, I love Title 9 (really) but I don't think they're very good for running clothes. They have some, but not many to choose from. I would go to a running store for my running clothes before I hit Title 9.
posted by bibbit at 8:49 AM on April 23, 2009

Also if you like listening to tunes a clip on mp3 players works great. I got an ipod shuffle and it clips right on to my bra strap and my hands are free! I love it.
posted by collocation at 9:57 AM on April 23, 2009

Go to a real runners' store for your shoes,

.. and your clothes. They carry the best brands and you don't have to worry about weeding through all of the junk that sporting goods stores sell.
posted by Zambrano at 10:37 AM on April 23, 2009

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