Clothing for Running
I recommend clothing made of synthetic fabrics like polypropylene (polypro) that wick away moisture and keep you dry. Cotton gets wet and stays wet, which makes it clammy in cold weather and sticky when it's warm. Polypro doesn't have that problem; it performs well in both cold and warm weather. Cotton will work just fine if you're just getting started, and then you can always get more high tech if you decide that you're going to keep on running.
- Shirt. Any old T-shirt will do when you're just getting started. As you get more serious, you can start with polypro fabrics and singlets (the sleeveless tops that many runners wear).
- Shorts. Running shorts are typically made of some type of synthetic material, come in slightly different lengths, and some have minor accessories like an internal pocket for cash and keys. Some people like to run in Lycra bike shorts. Bike shorts are comfortable for some, and they eliminate chafing in the thighs for runners whose thighs rub together.
- Leggings. Once it gets cold, you can wear leggings (Lycra or polypro). These fit loose, tight, or somewhere in between. Try them on and see what feels most comfortable to you.
- Inclement weather. For the rain or particularly cold weather, wear an outer shell. Inexpensive shells are made of nylon and will keep you warm and dry for short runs, but they don't breathe, and so if you're out there for more than 20-30 minutes, you're going to feel clammy (even if your shirt is polypro). I recommend investing in a quality shell made of Gore-Tex or other breathable fabric if you intend to run in cooler weather or the rain. The high-tech shells will keep you warm and dry by letting moisture escape but keeping out the wind and rain. They also have vents to help you regulate your temperature.
- Socks. I recommend running or hiking socks. They have reinforced and padded heels, and they are synthetic, which means they dry quickly and slide easily over your skin when wet (which reduces the risk of friction blisters). Cotton socks don't dry quickly and get abrasive when they get wet, which increases the risk of blisters.
- Hat. Any type of polypro hat will do as long as it isn't too thick and wicks the sweat away from you. My favorite hat for all outdoor cold-weather activities is made of Thermax. It's ultra-thin (even fits under a bike helmet), comfortable, and wicks away the sweat. It keeps me warm no matter how cold or sweaty I get.
How Much Running Should I Do?
The guidelines for fitness and health in the United States are to either accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week (you can accumulate it in bouts of 10-15 minutes), or do more vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (like running) for a minimum of 20 minutes on three days each week. Running fits into either guideline and will help you improve your health and fitness.
- I recommend no more than 10 minutes of running/jogging to start (less if you can't make 10 minutes), and then monitor how you feel the next day. You can expect to be a little sore in your legs (which can get worse on day two), but if there is pain that immobilizes you, then you know that you did too much.
- Pace yourself. Don't go out too fast and get out of breath in the first few minutes. Instead, warm up with a slow jog and then increase your speed.
- Stretch before and after your run to loosen up your muscles.
- Although there isn't a lot of research to substantiate it, the conventional advice for increasing is not to increase by more than 10% of your distance or time each week. That means just one minute if you've been doing 10 minutes. I believe the 10% advice is a bit conservative for shorter durations. For instance, let's say you've been jogging or running for 10 minutes for a couple of weeks and you're feeling comfortable with your breathing, your pace, and in your joints and muscles. In that case, I believe you can increase by two, three, four, or even five minutes if you like (as long as it is comfortable), whereas if you're running or jogging for 30 minutes, then a 50% increase (from 30 to 45 minutes) might be too much. The important point is to listen to your body and not push to the point of pain, and to stop running if you do have pain.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2014
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