Advice on clothing and running shoes.
As a LADY RUNNER your needs can be different to male runners. What follows is written by ladies for ladies to help you in deciding what to wear.
Would you go running in flip flops?
Would you go running in slippers?
Would you go running in wellies?
I would like to think the answer to all of these questions is ‘No’, so why do people run in trainers that might as well be as damaging as one of the above? Suitable running footwear is vital to a runners comfort and safety. I have been running for several years now and one of the most important pieces of my kit is my trainers.
I often hear from runners that they don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing running shoes. The selection is ever increasing and the prices rising so making a decision can be a daunting experience.
I have learnt over time that the saying ‘You get what you pay for!’ is a very true statement. A pair of trainers might be expensive but when it comes to protecting your feet and limbs from injuries they are a top priority.
If you want to avoid discomfort and injuries then our advice would be this; go to a specialist sports shop and ask to use the ‘gait analysis machine’. This is nothing more than a treadmill so please don’t be scared of it. The beauty of this machine is that it has a small camera that videos the way in which you place your foot down whilst running.
You will be asked to take your shoes off and wearing either socks or bare feet the video footage can show how your foot makes contact with the floor, you either are: a neutral runner (this means that your foot lands neutral to the floor on impact) or you over pro-nate (your foot turns outwards) or you under pro-nate (your foot turns inwards).
The most desirable one of the three to be would be the ‘neutral runner’ this is because the impact of the foot when landing is totally even thus not putting any uneven pressure on either the ankle, the knees, hips or back. People who are neutral runners suffer less with injuries but hope is not lost, if you under or over pro-nate a good ‘specialist’ sports shop will show you the correct trainer.
My personal advice would be to have this done as soon as you’ve decided you’re serious about running. I will admit it’s not cheap but if you pay £100 for a pair of decent trainers divide that by 52 weeks in the year that is 27 pence per day – not much is it for protection to those ankles, knees, hips and back?
By Debbie Hawtin
There is another view that runners don’t need as much support as traditional trainers provide. This has created what is referred to as barefoot running. This doesn’t have to mean no shoes, but does mean running shoes with less drop from heel to toe, and/or less cushioning underfoot.
There is a vast amount of information on the internet about this style of footwear, and it divides opinion if it is better or worse for your feet. Christopher McDougall’s TED talk is well worth a look. His book ‘Born to Run’ is also highly recommended for every runner.
A compelling view is we weren’t born wearing shoes, so it highly likely that our body is designed already to manage the impact of running without shoes. And furthermore the addition of lots of cushioning could actually be worse for us as it allows for poor running style – like heal striking.
A successful merging of old and new style trainers are the minimalist styles where the shoe has just enough cushioning to protect the foot from sharp objects and the pavement, but nothing more. There is a wider toe box so your foot can spread out as it touches the floor (as it would barefoot), rather than being contained in a tapering shoe.
Ultimately each runner is different – and so too might their running shoes. However if you’re experiencing discomfort in your feet or elsewhere on your body, it could possibly be you need to look again at your shoe choices.
By Maria Dispirito
Some local sports shops are:
Up & Running – Cheltenham
Gloucester Sports – Gloucester
InterSports – Cattlemarket – Gloucester
There are so many different styles of running bottoms available – you will probably end up with a selection.
Running kit is predominately dictated by the weather, when it’s hot you don’t want to be wearing anything that is too heavy or long, so during the warmer weather it would be advisable to wear shorts or knee length leggings. During colder weather full length options are better suited.
Specialist running shorts/leggings/tights (they are called a variety of things!) are made out of very light weight fabrics and make it comfortable for the runner whilst out on those warm hot days as they don’t absorb sweat, but instead allow it to wick away from the body. Additionally these fabrics will cope well in wet weather as they don’t absorb the rain water.
Most major sports shops stock a range of leggings and shorts to try on. Take a wide selection into the changing room as fit will vary from brand to brand.
You want to buy the ones that are breathable – as some yoga or gym leggings are not suitable as they are made from cotton, making it heavier and uncomfortable especially when running long distances.
Debbie Hawtin – LADY RUNNERS Leader
If you are anything like me my biggest factor when choosing running shorts/leggings is the colour of my legs and also the size of them. In my case I have the skinniest legs (which I know for some would be seen as a good thing), however for me personally wearing shorts is a bit of a battle, 1) with the fact my legs are anaemic looking and 2) my legs look like two sticks poking out of baggy shorts. So for me I do not think shorts are flattering and are therefore not comfortable, so I tend to go for the mid length legging look. I think most ladies are comfortable with this as ladies I run with have said this style is more flattering to legs of all sizes. The mid length legging is also the ideal hybrid style when you’re not sure what the weather is going to do!
The other alternative is the full length legging, this hides a multitude of sins!! Mostly white legs for me, but absolutely essential on cold wet days. They come in a range of fabric weights and even a fleecy lined version for very cold days.
I have recently bought a pair of very lightweight straight legged trousers, they have zips at the bottom so I can easily slip them on or off over my trainers. I wouldn’t wear them for long distance running but for short distances they give added protection against the weather. I actually bought them to wear over the top of my tight leggings when walking to and from running clubs – as I’m conscious wearing tight bottoms when out and about before or after running.
I do know some ladies are very aware that wearing tight bottoms can show parts that they are not comfortable about, but jogging bottoms – while being baggier and more covering – are really not suitable to run in. Not only are they heavy, but they will be hot too and if it rains they get very heavy – and start to pull down!
A more suitable ‘bum covering solution’ is a longer length lightweight t-shirt. This can cover the bum area so not revealing too much – and making the wearer more confident.
Shops to try:
Up & Running – Cheltenham
Nike shop – Gloucester Keys
Acics shop – Gloucester Keys
Marks and Spencers
No matter how big or small you are a sports bra is a vital bit of equipment for all ladies
According to the latest research carried out by the Shock Absorber Sports Institute (SASI) at Portsmouth University, 9.5 million women in the UK are not supporting their breasts properly. Read on to discover how you can protect your assets by investing in proper support.
Special offer for our LADY RUNNERS
On your behalf we have negotiated a 10% discount with Less Bounce for our members. We have found this company to be very helpful and offer a wide range of sports bras in a very wide range of sizes. Please us the discount code LR10 at the checkout on their website.
Why wear a sports bra?
The average breast weighs between 250 and 300g, and any unsupported movement – such as running – causes three-dimensional movement: up-down, in-out, and side-to-side. This can result in discomfort, chafing and strain on the breasts’ supportive tissue – the Coopers ligaments – which in turn can eventually lead to sagging. The SASI research also shows that on average, a woman’s breast moves 9.08cm with every stride when running.
What’s my size?
There’s no magic formula to finding out which bra size will fit you best. If you have never worn a sports bra before, start with your usual bra size but be open to trying on different sizes before you find the perfect fit.
First of all, ensure that the back band is at the same level all the way round. If it rides up, then it’s probably too big. Your sports bra should fit snugly, but not be so tight that you can’t breathe.
“You should be able to get no more than one finger under the band or in the cup, and the material should not pucker at all,” says Selaine Messem, founder of online sports bra shop, Less Bounce.
Encapsulation bras have two cups like a normal bra, but with extra support. Compression bras, on the other hand, press your breasts against your chest, and are usually pulled on over your head. If you’re opting for the former style, then make sure the centrepiece lies flat against the breastbone.
What shape of bra best suits my breasts?
Trial and error is the best way to discover which brand, model and size fits your breasts best. Most retailers should be able to suggest a selection of bras that, based on your body shape and level of activity, will suit you best.
If you’re shy about having a fitting in person, then online retailers such as Less Bounce provide knowledgeable customer support and a freepost returns if you’re not happy.
Don’t forget though, that the shape of your bra will have an impact on how effective it is in reducing movement while running. “As with running shoes, many women stick with the same model of bra once they’ve found the one that works best for them,” says Messem.
What level of support do I need?
Different bras offer different levels of support. The type you need will depend on your cup size and the type of exercise you do.
Low-impact sports bras, used for stretching or walking, are often cut like a crop-top and are, on the whole, made from thinner material. High-impact bras (for running) generally use less stretchy material, include supportive seams and overlays and are sometimes even underwired.
Running causes a large amount of breast movement compared with many other sports. “The level of support required does vary according to bra size, but whatever size you are we would recommend opting for maximum support,” says Messem.
I’m smaller-chested than average, what options do I have?
Smaller-chested women may feel most comfortable wearing a compression sports bra. However, warns Messem, there is research to suggest that a properly structured encapsulation bra – which cups each breast individually – is more likely to give good support than a compression bra.
What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
During pregnancy or when breastfeeding you will need the maximum support available. In addition, your bust size will change throughout your pregnancy, so consider buying an adjustable bra to avoid frequent replacements.
Some women find that wearing a crop top over a sports bra is the only way to stay comfortable when running during pregnancy.
Why has my sports bra started to chafe?
Sports bras usually start to chafe when the elastic has begun to age. It can also occur more frequently on longer-distance runs – this is because of the increased movement of the bra against the skin, due to perspiration.
“One solution is to tighten the rear-fastening by one notch before setting off,” suggests Messem. “This can also be a solution if you’ve recently started running (or increased your training) and have lost weight.”
Like running shoes, a new sports bra will also need be worn in, so to avoid any unexpected problems, best not to wear a new bra on race day!
How long does a sports bra last?
“After 30-40 washes most sports bras need replacing. As a rule of thumb you will need three new bras for every one pair of running shoes,” says Messem.
The technical fabric of your sports bra will wear in the washing cycle, and its elasticity will diminish during use. Try not to tumble dry your bra either: the heat will destroy the fabric on your bra and reduce its life.
Running-specific socks might come with an elevated price tag compared with your run-of-the-mill cotton varieties, but they’re well worth the investment.
Using breathable, man-made fabrics, such as Tactel, Lycra and X-Static, or natural wool-blends, they’re loaded with technology to keep your feet cool and dry, however far you plan to run or however soggy the terrain underfoot. Most models boast anti-odour properties, moisture-managing capabilities, and temperature regulation too.
What’s more, their customised, snug fit – combined in some models with a dual-layer construction (meaning fabric rubs on fabric, not your skin) – minimises friction between your foot and your shoe, reducing your chances of developing painful blisters.
However, we’ve had very good results from M&S and Primark sports socks so you don’t need to spend huge sums of money to get comfortable feet. We have found what works for one lady won’t work for another as all our feet are different. Sometimes you can’t beat trial and error.
A factor to consider is what time of the year it is and what’s the weather like. In warmer conditions thinner socks might work better. And in winter months you might need warmer, thicker socks to stop your toes going numb.
There’s some great information on this discussion at Womens Running website. I’m not even going to try and complete with all the information that gets discussed here!
Suffice to say no one solution works for everyone – but you will find after some experimentation that you know which knickers you’ve decided are your running ones. Don’t forget as your bottom changes shape from all your running you might need to revisit some of your underwear choices.