There are, of course, as many ways to dress as running paths, terrains or climates. But there are still rules to know and a guideline to consider when making your choice for an appropriate Trail Running outfit.
The first one is to avoid clothes made of pure cotton. This material absorbs too much perspiration and cools the skin very quickly. It’s the perfect way to catch a cold if you don’t cover up quickly enough at the end of your training session.
When trail running, the rule of thumb, regardless of the outside temperature, intensity or duration of the race, is to balance your body temperature by keeping your skin dry. It is then essential to wear clothes providing a good moisture management (“breathable”). It is a matter of fabrics and fibres.
The three-layer system
Depending on the weather conditions, you will need to use the widely known 3-layer system. Here is a brief reminder:
- Layer 1: the so-called baselayer: t-shirt, leggings, boxer-shorts, etc… To keep the skin a dry as possible, wicking away perspiration.
- Layer 2: this “middle-layer” ensures the body’s thermo regulation, keeping the heat inside and the outside cold … outside. This is where fleeces come into play.
- Layer 3: this one is the protective layer. It must be absolutely effective against the wind, the rain, the snow while being breathable enough to complete the workplan of evacuating perspiration.
The first things to pay attention to when trail running are your feet.
First of all, carefully choose high quality socks. They need to be seamless or to feature flat seams to minimize the risk of blisters. If you are really prone to blisters, choose double-layer socks, they are the best way to avoid them. Choose models that have reinforcements on friction areas (heel, outer edge, toes).
Then think about your shoes. They first need to be comfortable (mind the size, always choose them a little bit large as feet tend to swell when running) and to provide good cushioning. They need to be light & dynamic and to match your stride. Choose the right drop or opt for a model making it possible to adapt the drop to your style. Last but not least, they need to provide the perfect grip, whatever the terrain.
Also choose quality, breathable, seamless underwear. And focus on the tight-fitting aspect that will limit friction. Essential for women, a bra or a special race bra. The straps will then preferably be very crossed and also wide enough so as not to move during the race.
If the temperature is above 10 degrees
A short-sleeved or sleeveless T-shirt, or a tank top, are recommended. Choose it close enough to the body to release movement and avoid friction. A technical material in this case will be important to ensure proper ventilation and breathability.
As far as shorts are concerned, the lighter the better. And don’t choose them to large as they can cause friction. In that perspective think about “twin-shorts”, featuring inner boxer shorts able to support muscles.
Never leave without a cap and a pair of sunglasses! The cap must be light and breathable. Just as the sunglasses if you don’t want them to fog up.
In rainy weather
Two layers (the first one and the third one) are the right solution.
On the upper body, a short-sleeved or long-sleeved T-shirt depending on the outside temperature. Obviously always in a breathable technical fabric. Then, depending on the intensity of the rain, an ultra-light waterproof jacket is required. Choose it from a material that is easily compactable because it often rains intermittently and you will want to remove it at some point. It also needs to be highly breathable as you may sweat a lot and the moisture transfer to the outside needs to be highly effective.
Opt for shorts of maybe thin tights, but beware, the more material there is the more you will weigh down once wet. A wet short is really not pleasant to wear.
A cap will protect the hair and eyes from the rain. And if you wear optical glasses it is absolutely essential!
For cold weather
Three layers are highly recommended
For the upper body, the first layer needs to wick away perspiration and to stay dry on its inner face. The 2nd layer needs to retain your body’s heat (probably a long sleeve t-shirt). The 3rd layer will protect you from the wind and the rain. Opt for a fully zipped jacket so that you can easily manage the opening and, then, the ventilation.
For the lower body, running tights are the best solution. Even if it is rare to feel the cold on your legs when running, do not take the risk of weakening your muscles …. When the cold has done its work on the legs, it is often too late.
In cold weather, the body’s heat tends to escape through the extremities and especially the head. Opt for a light and breathable beanie, offering optimal coverage. If the cold feeling is not too severe, let’s consider wearing a headband. And, why not, a neck warmer.
Last but not least, gloves are also essential in cold weather in the same perspective.
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