The Spring Running Gear I Love
Ah springtime in Minnesota… there may not be any better season. When winter finally releases its death grip on the land, runners rejoice by donning shorts and frolicking around the lakes in the first day above 40 degrees. Long runs get pushed a little longer, and running at 6 am, knowing the sun will welcome you home, isn’t quite so bad.
I always think there is something incredibly exciting about the day I put away the winter stuff, and drag out the spring running gear. Sometimes this is a gradual, confusing decision…. “should I put it away now? How about now? Now?” This year, it all seemed to happen in the course of one weekend… then it snowed again…typical Minnesota.
Below are some of the spring running gear items I love (and I few I am coveting). Although I show men’s items, most can also be purchased in women’s. Head to your local run specialty shop, or use the links.
How Spring Running Gear Differs from Fall Running Gear
I always laugh at my 40-degree-short-wearing-friends, who, in 6 months, will throw on winter running tights in the exact same conditions. It is amazing how quickly our bodies adapt (then forget) what “cold” means.
Be that as it may, this collection of spring running gear was selected with two things in mind:
- Will these things easily regulate my body temperature? Inevitably, I miscalculate how warm (or cold) it might be on a spring run. Rain, wind, or forgetting that the sun comes up, can distract from an otherwise fantastic run. Quick on or quick off? Zip up or zip down? All of these things help to make the run better.
- Can I wear it at breakfast without feeling dumb? In the spring, I am more likely to head out for breakfast or brunch immediately after my run, rather than heading home to shower and put on real clothes. I may also run a few errands. Runners, by nature, don’t care too much about what they look like when they are running. That is true of me, but I do get self conscious when wearing short shorts to the local coffee shop.
These items are both technically savvy (dry quick, breathe, etc) and (at least for me) feel one step closer to “normal” clothes in public. I have also included some race day items. I always feel faster in race specific gear, and if Mark Twain is right,
Clothes Make the Man/Women. Naked People Have Little or No Influence in Society.
If nothing else, the turning season is a wonderful excuse to treat yourself to something new.
For the Legs – Shorts and Pants
Running shorts are notoriously short. The idea is that the shorter they are, the more natural they will feel, and the less they will get in your way. While this is certainly true (and important) on race day, it isn’t necessary on a casual weekend run when you’re heading to brunch after.
This is why I like the Asics 2 n 1 6” woven shorts (or anything a little longer for these occasions). They are long enough to hide ugly man things, yet short enough to feel like a real runner (they hit just above the knee). They also have a liner (a must for any running shorts) as well as a small zip pocket in the back, and small side pocket (great for stashing a gu or shot block during your run, or phone or wallet post run). They are also slightly thicker than normal running shorts, and will provide just a touch more warm on a breezy spring day.
On race day, I love the Pearl Izumi Men’s Infinity Shorts. These are a true running/racing short, with a 3” inseam (hits mid thigh). They are cut to fit and move with your body. The fabric dries very quickly and has some antimicrobial properties. While you don’t want to wear just these when you’re out and about, they will make your legs look sexy on race day.
I love the Salomon Trail Runner Warm Pant. I actually wear these about 6 months out of the year. I like that they are somewhat fitted, with ankle zips that are slim (or not) depending on what you are in the mood for. They also have pockets – a huge bonus after a run (and helpful on colder runs when you need to stash a gel or something). They are perfect to throw on after you run.
Shirts, Singlets and More
Spring running is notoriously unpredictable when it comes to the weather. When picking what to wear on top, versatility is the name of the game.
For a casual look that will also look good post-run, try the Nike Dri-Fit Neon Slub, Dri-Fit Knit V-Neck, or Challenger V-Neck Dri-Fit…. honestly anything v-neck meet this criteria. These Nike shirts give you all the benefits of a dri-fit (quick drying, low chafe), but in a stylish v-neck that doesn’t look like a traditional boxy running tee. They come in a variety of colors and styles, so finding one that matches your personality shouldn’t be hard.
On slightly cooler days, thrown on top of that the Asics Thermopolis 1/2 Zip Top. You can zip it up for a little more warmth, or unzip to let heat escape (along with the great underarm vents). Just enough added warmth for a chilly morning run. It is designed to fit snug and move with your body. The thumb holes ensure the sleeves will stay down, and trap in warmth.
On race day, you would want to throw on a singlet to truly look and feel like a hard core runner. I swear this makes you run faster. The Rev Singlet from Brooks comes in colors that won’t make you feel too out of place if you want to wear it to the gym too and show off those guns. On warmer race days, the minimal coverage helps you stay cool (paired with some arm warmers and you’ll all set).
Jacket and Vest
On those days when you’re not sure what the weather is going to do, a light weight jacket or vest is the way to go.
The Nike Impossibly Light Jacket is awesome, and I want one! I tested one at Mill City Running the other day. It is wind and water resistant for the morning when a t-shirt isn’t enough. If it’s too warm, fold it up and it fits into its own pocket. At 3 oz, it packs easy. It also has a great cut, so wearing it around on the weekend doing errands won’t feel awkward. You can get it in a bright, more traditional running color, or black if you intend to wear it post-run.
A vest is another great item. Although you won’t win many awards for your fashion forward thinking, these are fantastic for regulating body temperature. I have found that the added wind protection does wonders in the cool morning. The Brooks Essential vest is great for transitioning between seasons.
Shoes are a highly personal item for runners. With a myriad of different foot types, it can be very difficult to recommend a particular brand of shoe. I always feel an instant bond seeing someone wearing “my” shoes. It’s as if you are sharing something intimate, knowing the pains you have gone through to find that shoe.
That being said… the Asics DS Trainer is a great shoe for anyone wanting to transition from something heavier into slightly speedier. With a 10 mm drop, it provides great stability and cushioning without too much construction. I also just started running the Mizuno Wave Sayonara. Similar to the Asics, but different enough to switch it up for my feet.
On race day, you may want to go with someone even lighter and more responsive. The 8 oz Saucony Kinvara will feel like it’s just you and the road. At 4 mm, these shoes should be transitioned into gradually. If you want an even lighter shoe, the Asics DS Racer comes in at only 6.4 oz.
Socks are perhaps the most underrated item in a runners wardrobe. Their main job is to move moisture away from the foot to prevent blisters and chafing.
Two brands that do a particular great job of this are Fitsok and SmartWool. The Fitsok CF2 Cushion Quarter Cut Sock are great for everyday use, and their CX3 Low Cut are great for race day or anytime when you’re doing something a little faster.
The Smartwool PhD Run UltraLight Micro are sort of the gold standard in running socks (in my opinion). At $20/pair, you may want to reserve these for race day. These are great because they are highly durable and made from 54% merino wool. They resist odor and do an excellent job of wicking moisture to help you avoid blister.
Splurge Item – Bluetooth Headset
Running with music is a hotly contested topic. Some swear they can’t run without it. Others suggest it ruins the tranquility and essence of what running is. Regardless, I am a recent convert to Bluetooth earbuds if your run includes some tunes or an audio book.
I would have never purchased these on my own. My dad got them for me for my birthday, and I was thinking I would return them. I rarely run with music, but on my easy running days (in the spring, summer and fall), I often listen to a podcast or audiobook. I took them out of the box “just to try” and was hooked.
The Plantronics BackBeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones are amazing! When adjusted properly, you almost don’t know they are there. No stupid cable to mess with. Once you figure out the four tiny buttons, you can control your music device very easily. It is even voice enabled in case you want to take calls on the run. It pairs quickly and has a very long battery life.
Your Spring Running Gear Suggestions
As the seasons move from cold, to warmer (to colder, warmer, colder again) what are some items that you love?