10 MIN READ

 

What to wear when you go running

 

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With more than 22 top running kit suggestions to power you through, from the first mile to the last, our guide helps you to dress for success. 

 

The feeling of pulling on new running kit is hard to beat. It gets you in the zone. It makes you feel like a runner. From leggings and running tops to shorts and socks, every piece of gear you wear can help push you to all-new fitness – if you know what kit to pick, that is. 

Here, our step-by-step guide will first explain why your old cotton joggers and free gym T-shirt no longer cut it. You need technical running gear to go further, faster. Keep scrolling and you’ll find an exhaustive list of all the best pieces in the lululemon running wardrobe. Plus, we’ll reveal why you need to invest in a pair of Fast and Free leggings instead of reaching for those classic Align pants. After that, we help you dress for the weather, no matter the conditions and finish by answering your most common running FAQs. 

Consider this your warm-up to looking, feeling and performing the part every time you lace up your runners. Let’s get moving.

 

What types of running clothes do you need?

“Running is as much mental as it is physical,” explains lululemon ambassador Alex Hassett. “You can’t underestimate the impact that looking and feeling the part has on performance. Pulling on the correct kit helps you to adopt the mindset of a runner.

Baggy old cotton kit gets wet with sweat, it rubs and chafes, plus it smells as soon as you stop. All of these are distractions you don’t need as a runner. “You’ve got enough voices and reasons in your head telling you to turn back,” says lululemon ambassador, Daisy Hughes. “You don’t need your clothes to become one of them.” Technical, run-specific kit will shut those voices down.

It’s a simple concept, but when you feel your best, you perform your best. At lululemon this is what we call the Science of Feel and it’s what powers our innovation. In everything that we produce we consider the combination of touch, temperature and movement, and how they impact the running experience.

“When someone tries on lululemon clothes the most important question is how do they feel?” says store educator, Tripti Bandaranayake. It sounds like a strange intangible to measure, especially when you’re looking to improve in a sport where everything is tracked in miles and minutes. But there are specific kit qualities that help you to get more from your gear. 

Quick-drying

Old-school, non-technical becomes cold and wet against the skin once you’ve sweated in it. Instead, lululemon fabrics are made with a greater surface area to disperse moisture and increase evaporation. The surface area also helps draw heat away from the body to keep you cool.

“If your kit is still soaking at the end of a run then you’re more likely to come in, tear it off and jump in the shower,” says Hughes. “You’ll skip the important bits like a cool down and stretch.” Feeling comfortable in quick-dry kit will help you stick to the plan. 

Sweat-wicking

This property draws sweat away from the body. Run fabrics containing nylon and polyester act like capillaries, pulling sweat up and away from the body, spreading across the fabric to evaporate more quickly. Sweat-wicking kits feel dry and comfortable against your skin, even when you’re going all-out. 

Breathable

Even when you’re struggling to catch your breath, your body should feel easy breezy. Breathability is based on your kit’s ability to absorb moisture and release it, plus the amount of air that passes through a fabric. It’s why some of our kit uses mesh panels to regulate body temperature when you’re at full tilt. 

Comfortable and supportive

In many cases our running kit is created using seamless technology where we can combine multiple technical fabrics into one piece of fabric. This allows lululemon kit to create a distraction-free experience. There’s no bulk, no constriction to cause chafe, plus enough bounce back in the fibre to ensure you feel supported in every stride.

 Anti-stink technology

Running is often a social endeavour. “You want to finish a run at the coffee shop and feel comfortable around other people,” says Hassett. With lululemon running kit you know that, no matter how sweaty you get, you won’t smell.

The science is pretty interesting, too. The recycled polyester in lululemon running gear absorbs oil and sweat. Bacteria grows on that oil and even when you wash it, it might smell fresh, but doesn’t kill the bacteria. So, when you next run, the heat from your body reactivates the bacteria and their waste creates the smell. 

The fix is our Silverescent™ technology – a nylon yarn with silver bonded around it is woven into the running kit. Silver is antibacterial and stops bacteria growth. Other lululemon kit also comes with new Anti-stink Zinc technology, which is topically applied and good for 100 washes. We know it works because a team of expert sniffers have spent months testing our kit after it’s been worn during tough workouts. Yes, really. 

Overall, that’s a lot of technology crammed into every piece of lululemon running kit. It’s why we believe it really can make the difference on your runs. Mentally and physically it can help you to feel like a runner. Ultimately, it can help to make the experience of running an enjoyable one – which for so many people feels like an impossibility. Invest in yourself. 

 

lululemon’s running gear recommendations 

We have a lot of kit to choose from. And that’s a good thing – it means we can provide truly game-changing kit for everyone, across a range of sweaty pursuits, no matter what stage you’re at on your fitness journey. 

It can also get confusing. To the untrained eye, leggings all look the same. Ditto for sporty T-shirts. How much difference can there really be? Well, a lot! Trust us on that one.

So, take the time here to plod through our exhaustive kit list. We’ll pick out those pieces made specifically for yoga or the gym that you’d do better to save for other workouts. More importantly, we’ll reveal the best run-specific kit that you need to chase down. 

 

Which lululemon leggings should you wear running?

We get it. Those stretchy yoga leggings – the Align are what we’re famous for. We love them. But we also know their limitations – and running is certainly one of them. Align leggings are sweat wicking and breathable, but only enough to cover the exertions of a yoga flow. If you want a legging that can keep pace while pounding the pavements, you need to diversify.

Fast and Free Tight

Fast and Free Tight

The holistic, recreational runner should invest here to feel 100% running freedom. Using Nulux™ fabric, this tight is about unrestricted movement, providing incredibly lightweight coverage that still passes the squat test. With two side drop-in pockets to fit your phone, plus five waistband pockets, you can stash your tech and mid-run snacks with ease. They’re sweat-wicking and quick-drying to keep you comfortable and your mind firmly on the route at hand.

Swift Speed Tight

Swift Speed Tight

These are as reliable as your favourite run route, especially for the more advanced runner looking to upgrade tired kit. These tights come with plenty of pockets and a hit of reflectivity. Powered by our special Luxtreme™ fabric, they’re sweat-wicking and feel cool to the touch with no inseam for a smooth run. The addition of extra Lycra fibre for stretch and shape retention means you’ll feel supported in the final miles, too.

*Insider tip: According to Bandaranayake, if you’re big into treadmill sprints or bootcamp classes – not long-distance running – then you may want to try our Invigorate legging. They’re technically training leggings, but the extra support and power they provide can push you to new heights during short, sharp treadmill sessions.

Surge Tight

Surge Tight

Running leggings aren’t just for women, of course. For men, this tight uses Nulux™ fabric to enhance your movement, while panels of ventilation let you blow off steam. The superfine yarns make them extra lightweight and quick-drying. They’re the closest you can get in a tight to the feeling of wearing shorts. If you need more warmth, then you can layer on some extra heat with the Surge Hybrid Pant and Surge Jogger.

 

 

Which lululemon sports bra should you wear running?

Bra choice is so important. Experts claim that wearing the wrong size or type of bra for exercise can lead to neck and back pain, breast pain and irreparable damage to the ligaments, which causes stretch marks.

You need support, especially in high impact work like running. And not all lululemon bras are created equal. Our Free to Be and Align bra, for example, offer the low support and comfort you need for yoga only – they won’t crossover to your 5K. The options below will.

But first, make sure you check out our updated sizing chart and measurement guide, so you can find the right fit, no matter how you like to move.

Enlite Bra

Enlite Bra

Running never felt so good. This revolutionary bra is powered by Ultralu™ fabric, which is lightweight, breathable and provides built-in cups that are engineered to soften bounce. It’s sweat-wicking, quick-drying and provides enough coverage to make this an option for hot summer runs when you want to go without a T-shirt. The straps might look full on, but back closure opens wide for easy removal, plus there’s an option with a front zip should you prefer it.

Run Times Bra

Run Times Bra

This is the more lightweight of the trio. It comes with perforated panelling for maximum airflow and breathability, and so is perfect to be worn under more layers. The straps are padded and the underband is brushed in the same way an Align legging is to maximise comfort. But don’t be fooled, it still promises high support.

Swift Speed Bra

Swift Speed Bra

The out-and-out runner for when you’re giving it your all. This high-support bra is also powered by Ultralu™ to keep you comfortable and supported during high-impact workouts.

Lightweight built-in cups soften bounce, mesh panelling maximises ventilation and the soft underband stays comfortably in place. All you need to concentrate on is crushing that 10K PB.

Which lululemon shorts should you wear running?

Here it’s all about the length you choose, and it’s totally down to personal preference. For Hassett, anything longer than a 7-inch short feels like too much baggage, blowing in the wind. When he goes shorter than 4 inches then he might feel good mid-stride, but less comfortable sitting down in the coffee shop... You need to see what works for you.

Surge Shorts

Surge Shorts

Made from sweat-wicking and quick-drying mesh fabric, the Out of Mind liner in these men’s shorts has a 3D shaped pouch for breathable support as you move. Flat-locked seams reduce chafe, and a built-in pocket holds your phone. These super-lightweight shorts are great for all runs and come with a waistband loop to stash any top layers that need to come off when you’re at full speed. 

Surge Short Tight

Surge Short Tight

These are for the brave men amongst you. It’s a look! But a look that has its benefits. The same Nulux™ fabric from the leggings has superfine yarns to make them incredibly lightweight and quick-drying. They still come with easy-access gel pockets on the waistband, plus side drop-in pockets. Importantly, the silicone grippers on the hem prevent ride-up so you stay comfortable, no matter how far you’re going.

Hotty Hot Shorts

Hotty Hot Shorts

These short shorts for women are the ultimate summer running essential. Although they come in 4-inch as standard, you can cut it to 2.5 inches and really max out your stride. Don’t worry, though, the built-in liner gives you extra coverage – plus it comes with a secret stash pocket. They’re ultimately lightweight and sweat-wicking to provide you with the distraction free run you need when the sun shines.

Fast and Free Short

Fast and Free Short

These have all the benefits of the all-star Fast and Free leggings, they’re just, well, shorter. They’re the ideal go-between for those of you who want to keep the held in, supported feeling of a legging but don’t want to overheat in mid-summer. The Nulux™ fabric gives unrestricted movement and incredibly lightweight coverage and two side drop-in pockets, plus five waistband pockets, meaning you can still carry all of your stuff mid-run.

 

Which lululemon tops should you wear running?

In short, all you really need to know here are the two hero run products. The Swiftly Tech 2.0 for women and the Fast and Free T-shirt for men. Both of these pieces can keep pace with any run. We’ve also included a few other choice pieces to help bulk up your wardrobe for when you need extra layers. We’re good like that.  

Swiftly Tech 2.0 Long Sleeve

Swiftly Tech 2.0 Long Sleeve

This is the ultimate layering piece for transitional weather. The long sleeves and thumbholes provide extra coverage to give you the warmth you need to feel comfortable getting out on the road and up to speed. Then the lightweight, sweat-wicking mesh construction combines to optimise body temperature, keeping you cool, comfortable and in the zone. It also comes as a short sleeve if you want more options when the weather changes. 

Sculpt Tank

Sculpt Tank

Sprints anyone? This lightweight tank has mesh fabric panels for breathability in sweaty situations. It’s an easy fit that floats away from your body and sits below the waistband for moderate, everyday coverage that works just as well when you’re enjoying a well-earned recovery drink outside the nearest cafe.

Down For It All Jacket

Down For It All Jacket

This jacket is fully loaded for running in cold weather and is both water-repellant and windproof. Zoned insulation holds warmth where you need it and stretchy fleece keeps you moving freely. It also comes with a removable hood and zippered pockets with a hidden phone sleeve.

Fast and Free Short Sleeve

Fast and Free Short Sleeve

This all-rounder for men will help you to power through your last mile with nothing holding you back. Our ultimate, breathable run top is made with super-lightweight mesh that wicks sweat and dries quickly, so you can concentrate on every phase of the workout from warm-up through to post-run stretch. And don’t worry if you forget to wash it, the No-Stink Zinc tech will keep you fresh if you’re caught short squeezing in a last-minute run on your lunch break.

Metal Vent Tech Sleeveless

Metal Vent Tech Sleeveless

Bring on the heat. This is ideal when the sun shines and you want to shed weight. The seamless construction reduces chafe, is sweat-wicking, quick-drying and is built with four-way stretch to maximise mobility and comfort during intense sweat sessions. But don’t worry, the Silverescent™ anti-stink technology inhibits the growth of odour-causing bacteria.

Fast and Free Wind Breaker

Fast and Free Wind Breaker

When putting on an extra layer the risk can be that what you gain in water-repellent and windproof fabric, you lose in freedom and comfort. This jacket fixes that and is especially designed to help you have it all. Yes, it’ll protect you from the elements, but the fabric also stretches with your body and eases back into shape so you don't feel tension as you move, plus there’s 360º ventilation to ensure you don’t overheat.

 

Which lululemon running socks and accessories should you wear?

Power Strides! They may seem like an insignificant item, but both Hughes and Hassett believe that socks are the most important piece of kit in your wardrobe. Wear your normal cotton sock and they’ll soak up sweat and that moisture then creates the friction that causes blisters. The most effective way to stop your running habit being derailed by that most irritating of injury is to invest in technical running socks. Oh, and here are a few more extras that will ease your journey to all-new fitness, too.

Power Stride Crew Sock

Power Stride Crew Sock

The PerformaHeel tech is knit with two specific yarns to provide both stretch and micro-cushioning where you really need it. There is 360º arch support, plus that all-important level of sweat-wicking and breathability to keep you blister-free. The Power Strides also come in various lengths, all the way down to no-show.

Fast and Free Run Hat

Fast and Free Run Hat

It does everything you want from a running hat – protects you from the sun, stays put and looks cool – but this one comes with a few added extras. The Silverescent™ technology also inhibits the growth of odour-causing bacteria on the sweatband and the reflective details mean it’s even helpful to wear after dark.

Fast and Free Run Belt

Fast and Free Run Belt

“The running belt is excellent,” says Bandaranayake. “It’s the first time we’ve made one that once you clip it on, it doesn’t move.” Normally you have to read just these things so many times on your run. “Oh, and it looks small but it does definitely fit a big ass phone in there!” she continues. A ringing endorsement, we’re sure you’ll agree.

Fast and Free Backpack

Fast and Free Backpack

This is the ultimate cardio commuter rucksack. The waistband straps provide stability for a low-bounce run. The interior compression straps also keep your essentials from bouncing around. Equally, it’s a bag made with outdoor adventures in mind and is hydration-compatible to keep you cool and fueled on the trails.

 

How to dress for the weather when running

 

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Thermals versus lightweight gear in the cold

When it comes to running in the cold of winter, or even in the transitional weather of autumn and spring, knowing which layers to wear when running is tough.

“If you’re a beginner, remember that you need to go slow to stay consistent,” says Hughes. You don’t want to go out too fast, burn out and injure yourself. Making your running habit stick means slow and steady. Which also means that your body temperature probably won’t rise as much as you might think. So add an extra layer. 

Hassett warns the opposite for more experienced runners. You don’t want to downplay the impact that getting up to speed will have on your body temperature. “Wear one layer less than you think you need,” he advises. “You don’t want to be in a position where you're needing to strip off too many items and carry everything.” 

Layering lightweight gear, rather than relying on thermals, is key – layers mean options. “You also have to remember that when you’re dressing you’re having to cater for all phases of the run: warm-up, main effort and cool-down,” says Hassett.

If it’s cold, Hughes recommends tights on the bottom and then bra, tank, long-sleeve top and padded gilet. The gilet is great for keeping your core warm without restricting your arms, plus it’s easy to undo if things do heat up. For men, the same principles apply. A long-sleeve top, gilet and then running tights with shorts over the top will keep you covered in almost any weather.

*Insider Tip: If it’s really cold, then swap out your lightweight Fast and Free running tights for the Invigorates, says Bandaranayake. They’re not made specifically for running, but the Everlux™ fabric is slightly thicker, offering more warmth without losing any of the performance.

Less is more in the heat and sun

According to Bandaranayake, it doesn’t have to be really hot for you to start shedding layers. If you’re a more experienced runner, you pick up the pace and distance and so your body temperature rises, and factors like sweat-wicking and breathability become even more important. As does losing fabric altogether! 

When the Mercury rises towards 10C she recommends making the move towards shorts. The shorter the leg, the more movement and freedom you’ll feel. For Hassett 10C+ is vest-only territory. Oh, and shorts, obviously.  

“When you’re running in the heat, feel is everything. You want to feel like you’ve got nothing on, nothing distracting you, and to feel as lightweight as possible,” he says. Taking off the sleeves also removes the chance of chafing underarm. The Fast and Free tank provides just that feeling.  “I try to keep my shorts at around 6 inches long. Anything shorter is great when you’re going fast, but when you’re finishing in the coffee shop or running to meet friends then a bit more coverage is welcome!” he concludes. 

Basically, shorts and tank are your go-tos here, regardless of gender. 

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Waterproofs in the rain

But only if you’re going a long way. “If I know that I’m going to be home pretty quickly and into a warm shower then I’m not too bothered about the rain,” says Hughes. “If you don’t have to worry about being cold in the rain then sometimes less is more – if it’s warm but raining I’ll be out in a vest and shorts,” Hasset adds. 

The problem comes with the effect of water-proofing. For something to be totally waterproof, it can’t really be breathable. Which means that although it’ll protect you from the moisture outside, you’ll be wet with sweat on the inside. This can actually dehydrate you really quickly.

Hughes and Hassett both recommend taking something that is lightweight and water-repellent, rather than waterproof. This protects you from the worst of the elements whilst still offering a level of breathability so you stay comfortable. 

The Fast and Free windbreaker is ideal. It’s constructed with water-repellent fabric, windproof fabric and plenty of ventilation. It’s light enough to keep in your backpack just in case, or to stow away easily if the weather clears. 

When it’s cold and wet Hughes recommends the Down For It All jacket. “It’s excellent because it’s rain resistant and wind resistant, but it’s breathable,” she says. “Plus water resistant tends to be enough for those 30-40 minute runs that are the norm for so many people.” 

Reflectivity in the dark

The more you are seen, the safer you are. But that doesn’t always have to mean strapping into a full hi-vis vest after sunset. Stock up on some lululemon accessories and you can effectively shine a spotlight on your performance to passers-by. Start with the Run All Day backpack and these special Power Stride socks, both of which provide 360º reflectivity. 

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What kit should you not wear running?

This is a simple one, really. The answer is: kit that wasn’t made for running. We’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating: when you go for a run in your old cotton T-shirt it might feel OK, but when you get home it’ll stay soaking wet and start to smell. That’s when you’re most likely to come through the door, strip off and get straight in the shower. You’ll want to skip the warm down and stretching that are so important. Instead, buy proper kit and don’t give yourself the excuse.

 

FAQs

What should I wear when I run? 

It’s got to be something you feel good in. Something that doesn’t rub, doesn’t itch and something that you don’t want to take off already when you’re only 5 minutes down the road. It needs to be as enjoyable to wear as possible. 

“The types of materials are so important because, if you’re not wearing proper technical fibres, that’s when you start getting overly hot, sweaty and uncomfortable,” explains lululemon ambassador, Daisy Hughes.  

Hughes’ go-to is always the Swiftly 2.0 top because it’s quick-drying and non-irritable on the skin. In winter or the cold it’s leggings. Summer is shorts. The thing you want to avoid here is chafing, but with the technical fabrics of your Fast and Free tights or shorts you’ll have that glide feel that makes everything run smoothly. 

 

What should a beginner runner wear? 

The main consideration here is whether running is the only thing you’ll use your kit for. Most newbies are newbies to exercise in every sense and are looking to dip their toe into multiple activities. If this is the case, the key choice is legging selection and the two best options are the Fast and Free or the Invigorate, according to lululemon educator, Tripti Bandaranayake.  

If running is your main focus then the Fast and Free leggings are your best bet. If running is only part of your week that also includes plenty of gym work, then you need some Invigorates. They use lululemon’s special Everlux fabric. This means they’re extra sweat-wicking, can keep up with multiple sets of squats in any bootcamp class, and are slightly softer for when you want to spend a well-earned rest day on the sofa.  

 

Is it better to run in leggings or shorts? 

This is totally down to your personal preference. It’s a feel and temperature thing. When some people run they prefer to feel held in and supported, which makes wearing a tight the obvious choice. Others like the airy feeling of shorts and being totally unrestricted. There are no real performance benefits to either – only what helps you to best get in the zone. 

And if the weather starts to mess with your preferences, then there are workarounds. For example, if you prefer the held-in and supportive feel of leggings but the sunshine is making that too sweaty then the Fast and Free biker short is your middle ground. Equally, if you like the next-to-naked feel of your short Hotty Hot shorts but it’s feeling too coldy cold then the lightweight breathability of the Fast and Free tight will provide a non-restrictive layer of much-needed warmth.

 

Can I wear yoga pants to run? 

There’s a difference here between can and should. You can run in yoga pants. You can run in jeans. You should run in technical gear that’s been designed specifically for running. “Seeing people wearing their Aligns during a HIIT class or a long run makes me wince,” says lululemon store educator, Tripti Bandaranayake. You can wear most running leggings to yoga, but you shouldn’t wear your yoga leggings to run. 

The yoga leggings are made from our Nulu™ fabric. It is sweat-wicking and breathable but not to the extent that a Fast and Free is. As your body temperature rises, the yoga pants can’t keep up. They can handle the exertions of a flow, not a 5k. The goal of these leggings is to make you feel comfortable as you run – yoga leggings will feel overly hot and sweaty. 

*Insider tip – if you’re doing a hot yoga class, we wouldn’t recommend you wear the traditional yoga leggings. We’d recommend you wear the more high-impact training leggings, like the Invigorates, because they’re more breathable. 

 

How do you carry your phone running?

If you’re running in lululemon leggings then you can rely on their incredible selection of pockets. But that’s not your only option. “If I’m wearing a running top or a gilet then I’ll always choose to store my phone on my top half because it’s less distracting,” says lululemon ambassador, Daisy Hughes. “If it’s too hot for that then it’s great to know that the leggings have pockets to store the phone too.”

The key thing is to have storage. If not in pockets, then a Fast and Free running belt will help. As long as you’re not carrying anything in your hands. If you’re running and holding a phone or water bottle, the tension will come into your arms and your shoulders will start to ride up. That tension will eventually become exhausting.  

 

Should running leggings be tight? 

It depends on the type of run you’re doing. The more compressed and supportive feeling of a Swift Speed, or Zoned In legging, for example, can be great for shorter, more high-intensity runs. That feeling of being held in makes you feel faster and more powerful, which is perfect when you’re staring up at a set of hill sprints. 

However, when you’re struggling through the final miles of a half-marathon then that level of support and compression can start to feel constricting. Really, what you want at that point is to feel nothing at all. You don’t want any sensation to distract you from reaching the finish line. That’s when the more relaxed, lightweight feel of the Fast and Free tight comes into its own.