So why is the right gear important? There are a couple of reasons. First, for moisture wicking and second for form and function. I'm sure you remember being in high school and just grabbing your favorite tee and sweats and there were your practice clothes. Maybe I'll blame that on the 90s, on 90s fashion rather...or on lack of social media throwing tons of cute sporty fashion at me...I don't know. But that's besides the point. The point is sweats can be great for a fast get your heart rate up warm up. You may see X country runners warming up in sweats. That's what they are good for -- retaining some heat (usually in the heat) so your muscles are warm. That's it. Most sweats are pure cotton and cotton is your enemy. It absorbs moisture and actually makes you cold - not good when you are training and practicing in cold months, and in the summer, it's not helping either because you are swimming in a pool of sweat. You need some poly blend to help wick the moisture. And you want something that is form fitting. It's less about being cute and more about function -- the more form fitting, the less bulk and weight you are carrying when you run. I'm always aiming to feel light on my feet and in a race, for my personal best time. That means running in weather appropriate form fitting clothing. That sweatshirt will slow me - and you - down. And we all know a second in running is a be all end all.
So where do I shop? City Sports is one of my favorite shops - it has everything for every sport and I can find great running tops there as well as pants that work for running and yoga. I did say pants. I don't run in shorts. I can't handle the chaffing that occurs so even in warmer weather, you'll see me in capris. That said, I saw these ADORABLE Puma shorts on CitySports website and I might break down and buy them - they are on sale for $10 and weather appropriate for us Philadelphia folks right now (update: as of 4/16, they are sold out). I look for something that has a little spandex for stretch and a micro polyester or mesh for wicking. City Sports ALWAYS has a sale rack and it's pretty sweet too. So no need to think you need to drop mega bucks on gear.
Below is a cute capri, also at City Sports - I have a pair similar to these and they rock.
I don't have a favorite brand really, but I do look also for pockets - on bottoms and tops (those Puma shorts have a pocket!). Pockets on the side or back for my iPod or phone, keys and chap stick. Essentials, right? Also great is the little thumb hole in the long sleeved tops. How many times are we pulling the sleeves over our hands for warmth? Some genius created thumb holes in shirts so our hands are warm but we still have the ability to clench our iPods sans a glove. Brilliant.
PrAna is a great source for yoga and stretching. Do check the outlet for better deals. The PraAna sports bra below is cute, can work as a bra underneath your shirt alone for yoga, also found on City Sports' site for $10 (update: as of 4/16, it's no longer available). If you are bustier (sigh, not me), I highly suggest checking out Title Nine and Athleta as they carry a range of sports bras for every shape, support and cup size.
This PrAna pant is also adorable. I found this on their site. I probably wouldn't go on a long run with this given the poofiness at the top, but it's great for a short mile, for yoga, and even spinning.
I have also had a little luck at Target and Old Navy for a shirt here or there. Again, no straight up cotton but sometimes they have cute colorful tops that wick on the cheap. I mentioned above Title Nine and Athleta - they really are fabulous companies and brands for the sporty lifestyle gal.
An upcoming post will talk about how to find the best running sneakers for your feet.