Road Runners Club of America

Empowering Everyone to Run!

What to Wear?

One of the best things about running is that it does not cost much. All you need is a good pair of shoes and some suitable clothing.

Choosing Running Shoes

  • Choose shoes that are made specifically for running. It does not need to be the most expensive shoe available.
  • Purchase your shoes from a running specialty retailer where knowledgeable staff ensures you get the right shoes for your feet. The sales person will analyze your gait to make sure that the recommended shoes will provide the needed support and fit to ward off discomfort and injury.
  • Try on several different brands. Different people have different feet and needs.
  • Test run the shoes at the store, and compare them with other brands. Be aware of the store’s return policy when you purchase the shoes.
  • Don’t pick a shoe based on the look or color. Pick a shoe based on the fit. Pretty is not always comfortable.
  • Replace your shoes every 300-500 miles to keep yourself from getting hurt and keep your body in working order.


Clothing choice depends more on your own personal needs. Remember the importance of weather appropriate clothing.  Make sure that your clothing is breathable. Cotton clothing (including socks) often causes discomfort and chaffing.  A warm-up suit does not do a very good job of letting air in or out. Here are some tips on what to wear:

Cold Weather Running

The onset of winter needn’t bring a seasonal halt to a runner’s enthusiasm or routines. Outdoor exercise in the winter can be a pleasurable experience. The major risk posed by running in subfreezing air is frostbite and minor irritations to the respiratory tract. With some minor precautions these risks can be eliminated.

Wear clothing in layers so that warm air can be trapped between the layers. Depending on the weather conditions, two to four layers on the trunk and one to two layers on the legs are appropriate. It is helpful if the outer layers have vents and zippers to allow excess heat to escape as you become warm. On windy days the outer layer should be of wind resistant material.

Clothing made of material which carries the sweat away from the body is best, like wool, silk, or “space age” synthetics like polypropylene or polyester. Avoid cotton as it tends to hold the sweat.

Hat and gloves are crucial as these regions of the body have a substantial role in the regulation of body temperature. Mittens tend to be warmer than gloves. On very cold days mittens worn over gloves are very effective. Stocking caps or ski masks are desirable. On very windy days goggles or eye glasses can provide additional protection.

The outer layer should be light-colored and have reflective material if you are running during darker hours. Reflective material works only if there is a light source. Blaze orange becomes poorly visible brown at night. Light-colored material is visible even without a strong light source. During snowy days dark colors provide visible contrast and attract solar energy.

Avoid overdressing. Feel a bit under-dressed and chilly as you start, knowing that later as you run in your layered environment the temperature will rise about 20 degrees.

Warm Weather Running

Running in the heat can be dangerous if the proper precautions and preparations are not followed. Make sure to follow the RRCA recommendations for running in a hot environment

Wear breathable clothing that will keep you cool and wick away the sweat.

  • Do wear light-colored breathable clothing that allows you to be visible to others.
  • Do not wear long sleeves, long pants or sweatsuits. Purposefully running in sweatsuits on hot days to lose water weight is dangerous!

Wear a hat to avoid having the sun on your face. You might also want to wear sunglasses as extra protection for your eyes.

Make sure to wear sunscreen, even when protected by hats and clothes.
Wear or carry some sort of water bottle or water storage sack in order to maintain hydration in the heat and/or on long runs.

Staying Safe

Safety is one of the most important things to focus on when running. Review all of the RRCA safety tips.

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