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Style Advice

The best activewear for running

The best activewear for running

If nothing else, the start of a New Year can motivate us into picking up better habits. But many resolutions, like running, take more consideration than it might seem. The benefits of running are abundant: you’ll feel (and maybe even look) better; you’ll see results in no time; it’s a great excuse to get outside; you can do it anywhere, and it’s free. Well – almost. 

Though it’s true you don’t need fancy equipment or an extortionate gym membership to hit the open road, you’ll want to make some considered investments into the best activewear and accessories that will help you go the distance. So if you’re picking up running for the first time in 2021 or are a seasoned athlete looking for the best gear, Thread’s resident runner and stylist Freddie Kemp is the guy to turn to for tips on the essentials worth investing in, and the nice-to-haves that could benefit you in the long run. 

Running shoes

Photographed: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 (£109)

“The best trainers for you will depend on what type of running you’re interested in,” Freddie says. “So when you’re just starting out, any basic running shoe will serve you well.” However, footwear is by far the most important element of your workout gear – you can run in a hoodie and jeans if you have to, but the trainers you wear will impact your ability, performance, and health. You don’t want to go out in a pair of battered old Vans that will likely ruin your ankles and hinder how you run.

If you prefer treadmill running or something more low-impact, any gym trainer or mid-level hybrid shoe will do the trick. “I recommend the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 as one of the best all-rounders if you do other sports as well as running,” Freddie says. If you decide to level up to something more technical, road runners will need a light and supportive shoe like the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus. “It’s designed to be streamlined and is well cushioned to protect you against the impact of pounding pavements,” Freddie says.

Trail running, on the other hand, requires a chunkier shoe with deeper lugs on the sole for grip, and extra ankle support for striking rougher terrain – and the Salomon Speedcross 3 ticks all the boxes. But before you invest in a shoe for one type of running, go to a specialist shop for a treadmill test. Their experts will be able to tell you exactly what cushioning and support you need for your unique pronation.

For a more comprehensive look at the best running shoes, read Freddie’s recent review.

Running bottoms

“Firstly, avoid running in trousers,” Freddie says. “Leggings are okay, but you need to be streamlined and sweatpants or tracksuits will hinder your ability, which might end up putting you off running altogether.” Most guys prefer running in shorts, and you don’t want to go for anything longer than mid-thigh. You’re looking for bottoms that allow for the most mobility possible, and a good technique requires a long stride which trousers or long shorts restrict. 

If you can’t brave shorter marathon shorts, gym shorts with a mesh lining, like these by Under Armour, will work just as well. “Avoid wearing boxer shorts under your running gear – it’s an uncomfortable mistake you won’t make twice – and go for something that doesn’t require underwear, or can be worn over compression shorts,” Freddie says.

Running tops

It might seem like you can throw on any old top and head out for a run, and while that’s technically true, you probably won’t want to. “When you sweat, cotton becomes heavy and can chafe against your skin, especially in sensitive areas like under your arms,” Freddie says. Lightweight synthetic fabrics prevent this issue and most running t-shirts, like this one by Nike, are stitched specifically for movement and comfort. 

In winter, running in the cold can impact your lungs and feel uncomfortable and unmotivating for new runners. Layering will be one of the easiest ways to force yourself outside, especially if you run short distances. A long-sleeved running tee can be worn under any t-shirt and it will mitigate the aforementioned chafing. However if you like looking the part, a lightweight waterproof jacket can easily be taken off and worn around your waist if you warm up. 

“Avoid wearing jackets over short-sleeved t-shirts as the fabric will stick to your arms as your temperature rises and will feel irritating,” Freddie says. “If you prefer to run in short sleeves, layer a lightweight fleece jacket or gilet on top.”

Running accessories

Running isn’t the kind of hobby that requires fancy gadgets and expensive investments. In fact, it’s the simplest things that will see you go, quite literally, the furthest. “Breathable, purpose-built socks will provide the comfort you need for running long distances and also help prevent your feet from sweating and your shoes from getting smelly,” Freddie says.  

A running pouch for your phone and keys, and a holdable water bottle if you’re out in the heat or running long distances will keep your hands relatively free. But when it comes to tech, an app like Strava can help you track progress and push you further, helping you stick to the habit. Wireless headphones are also game-changer. “Once you’ve run with these, you won’t want to workout with wired headphones again,” Freddie says.


Words: Ella White
Styling: Freddie Kemp