A dilemma. When a guy’s looking for winter running ensemble, it kind of comes down to spandex. Or not. Having spent my teens and twenties as an amateur road cyclist, I’m well acquainted with the benefits of spandex or elastane or lycra (as it’s called in many countries). Yet on a bike spandex seems to have more purpose. Aerodynamics. Not getting your pants leg caught in a chain wheel and subsequently flicked off into a ditch. That kind of thing. With running, spandex seems a bit more… indulgent.
Running, cycling, swimming, triathlon et al give you a range of experiences and skills, that team sports just don’t. Strength. Perseverance. A high pain threshold. The ability to push yourself well beyond what you ever imagined. The satisfaction of achieving something by yourself. Equally, failure is solely in your own hands. Individual sport rewards you with traits you naturally apply to life well beyond the track or road. Traits which influence your attitude to personal relationships, business… all aspects of who you are.
But the big question is—what to wear?
Summer running gear is a bit easier to contend with: a light, breathable T-shirt, shorts and some good shoes. Done and dusted. But what about when the climate cools? Does skin-tight compression clothing only look good on cyclists, triathletes, superheroes and Norwegian spree killers? What are the alternatives? Grey sweatpants? Isn’t that the opposite extreme? Wouldn’t I look instead like a stay-at-home mom?
Although Rocky Balboa got himself into shape by running through the wintery streets of Philadelphia in his sweats—baggy pants slow you down, and cotton collects moisture rather than repelling it. A baggy, wet ass after a couple of km isn’t the look I’m aiming for to be honest.
Compression running gear provides a great base layer, or works for the high performance athlete—I’m just running recreationally. Still in all areas of life it’s important to look your best. Even when you’re potentially gonna be a sweaty mess. If you’re going to engage in a sport regularly its best to get the right gear that looks good on you and (importantly) works for you.
Me? I think I found my missing piece to the recreational winter running outfit puzzle: wind pants. They’re lightweight, and mesh-lined nylon, which means you’ll stay warmer (and less wet) than Rocky. Vintage design, ankle zips, pocket for phone, water-resistant. and they’re perfect for blocking wind (imagine that?)
A winter-specific running shirt like the Adidas techfit® training top with climaheat™ insulation offers a shiver-free ticket outdoors. Climaheat™ has hollow-core fibers engineered to work like animal fur; it’s lightweight, quick-drying, and offers a good range of movement. Plus, it’s available in orange! 75% polyester / 20% nylon / 5% spandex.
A little spandex never hurt anyone after all.
A note on color. While fluro is still not recommended for dinner parties, sport is the one area of a man’s wardrobe (post 1990) where fluro is not only okay—it’s often desirable. If you’re a cyclist, then some fluro yellow or orange riding-top makes perfect sense for road safety. Also not a bad idea for the casual runner crossing busy metropolitan streets. The rule of thumb to avoid looking like a luminous candy, is just wear one bright color. If you’re wearing a bright pink fluro top, wear some black pants to keep things in perspective, and get sports shoes that are a neutral shade.
Compliment your winter running look (depending on chill factor), by a fluro (or not) water repellant, breathable windbreaker—and you’re almost ready to go. The Adidas climaheat™ jacket might just be available in blue, but it’s 53% nylon / 47% polyester—which makes it lightweight and insulated—perfect for cold-weather, vaguely threatening-rain, running.
Gloves might seem a small addition—any kind will do, right? Well, you’ll find touchscreen gloves to be a time-saver when trying to switch music. They enable you to do so without breaking your stride. Try doing that with standard wool gloves.
Let’s not forget a hat. Woolen hats are perfectly fine, and swimmingly retain head warmth, but there are a lot of other anti-moisture, anti-odor fibers on the market which can save you washing your hat every second run. So shop around. Try a few on.
Staying motivated and fit during winter can be tough when staying indoors seems a much more desirable option. However, running really is the quickest and easiest winter sport—after all you just throw shoes and a few choice items—and run. Finding those right items to face the harsh elements make life a whole lot easier. You look good, you feel better, you run faster and further. If you’re going running, you might as well look like a runner
The icy winter calls.
All photo credits: www.adidas.com