Running is a simple sport and doesn’t need much specialist kit. You can wear whatever you want for your 4km challenge within reason, as long as you’re comfortable. Throw on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt or hoodie, and some comfortable trainers, and you’re good to go.
That being said, if you want a performance boost, the right clothing and footwear can make a difference.
Your number one concern should always be staying safe if you’re running outdoors, especially if you’re running when it’s darker. Staying visible is key. Wherever possible, wear running kit with reflective strips, or high-viz accessories. If it’s going to be really dark, you should wear some form of light. Either a head torch or vest light, or better yet, both. If you think other runners or motorists won’t be able to see you from a distance, it’s not safe to run.
Your running shoes could be the difference between a fast 4km time and a rough run that ends in injury. For a challenge like this, you should pick a pair of running shoes that are comfortable and cushioned. Picking up new shoes at the moment might be difficult, and running 4km in a brand new pair of shoes isn’t recommended anyway.
Instead, pick a pair of running shoes that you already know are comfortable. Only run off-road if you have a specially designed pair of trail running shoes. If not, stick to firmer surfaces like pavement.
Don’t underestimate the importance of good running socks. Your feet will thank you for it. Decent running socks are seamless, and designed to wick away moisture and sweat from the foot. These can help massively in reducing friction and with the prevention of blisters.
Look for socks with more padding in certain areas to aid the shoes in cushioning. If you order running socks and you’ve never worn them before, remember that they’ll probably be right and left foot specific.
Running shorts should be comfortable, lightweight and have the ability to wick away sweat when you train. Most running shorts come with elastic waist bands, but it’s worth paying a little extra to get a drawstring as well, so you can tie the shorts to the size that suit you.
Your shorts shouldn’t be so tight that they cut off circulation round your waist but not so loose that they flap around all the time either. Ideally choose shorts that have a small zipped pocket where you can safely store your keys or any other essentials.
If the weather is going to be colder for your 4km, running tights will keep your legs warmer and reduce the chance of injury.
Tights should be snug fitting and comfortable. Generally the more expensive the tight, then the more comfortable they will be, and the better at keeping you warm whilst still wicking away sweat.
You’ll notice a big difference in a running top over a normal cotton t-shirt. Cotton rapidly absorbs sweat and rain, and can lead to chafing. Running tops are made of specialist material to wick away sweat, and will feel much more light-weight.
A running top might be slightly more tight than you’re used to, but it shouldn’t be skin-tight. With long sleeve jerseys, you should aim to get ones with cuffed sleeves so they stay down around your wrists.If there are no cuffs, then the sleeves often ride up your arms when you run, and this can be both annoying and cold.
Running gloves & hats
If the weather is really cold, you might want to wear running gloves and a hat. Running causes large volumes of blood to be diverted from the extremities (fingers and hands) to the working muscles (legs), which can cause your hands to get cold. Running gloves are lightweight and will keep your hands warm and protected from any wind and rain.
In cold conditions, up to 30 per cent of your body heat can be lost through your head. Hats are similar to gloves in that woollen ones are are easy to get hold of and cheap. More expensive hats offer wind or waterproof protection.
A good sports bra will reduce unwanted and uncomfortable movement when you run. Wear what has worked best for you in the past, as professional fittings won’t be available at the moment.
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