As basic as it may sound, having a shirt that was designed specifically for sports makes a huge difference. As Under Armour says, cotton truly is the enemy. Cotton absorbs sweat very well, but it keeps it trapped next to your body. This moisture – or more like wetness, sticking to your skin – prevents your body from convectively cooling a keeps the heat trapped in the sweat against your body.
The most important part of athletic shirts is the material. The most obvious material to steer clear of for running shirts is cotton; the other material I would advise against is polyester. Polyester is a hive for bacteria, and as soon as any sweat touches the material, it absolutely reeks. Even after airing a sweaty polyester shirt out, it smells to high heavens. It’s just a pain having to wash your shirt every time you run, or it is for me at least. I try to get a run or two out of a shirt, maybe even three if I don’t sweat too much. Polyester is, however, probably the most popular athletic shirt material on the market so it’s just kind of difficult to avoid. The alternative is nylon, which I am a fan of. It doesn’t stink as much as polyester but it’s also not quite as nice of a material to the touch (depending on the weave). But it doesn’t seem to smell nearly as much so I prefer it.
Another alternative still, is getting a shirt like Lululemon’s Silverscent® technology. It has silver somehow woven into the fabric (silver has natural anti-microbial properties) to prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria. I have a couple of them and they do work quite well, getting me 3 runs or workouts out of a shirt before I need to give it a wash (ewww gross I know).
In terms of style, there are your three main styles: t-shirt, sleeveless, or long sleeve. Running as a beginner, I would keep all three in your arsenal as you never know when and where you may end up going running. I love the sleeveless shirts for summer runs, the t-shirts I like at the gym, and the long sleeves are great in the fall and spring. And honestly, all three shirts (the Lulu athletic shirts at least) look great and half the time I just end up wearing them around as casual clothing. You may (actually no, you will) develop your own preferences for shirt choices over time, but all three have a place in your running routine and I would try all three before ruling anything out.
Understanding a bit of sports nutrition will take you a long way here, but it is far from being rocket science. With a myriad of possible choices between gels and bars, you can choose whatever suits your needs the best. Long distance runners prefer the gels as the gels digest quicker than the bars, giving you energy faster. The bars are great pre and post workout items, or alternatively, protein bars are a great source of energy as well. They have protein for muscular growth and recovery, and you can also get fairly high carb protein bars that have some good energy in them as well for. Running as a beginner, power gels or bars isn’t really necessary as you aren’t out for the 20+ km runs where you need to refuel halfway through so long as you are getting a good meal in beforehand to power you all the way through your run. If you are taking your running seriously, creating an exclusive nutrition plan is highly recommended – even something as simple as using the My Fitness Pal app to track and monitor calorie intake.
There you have it. The running for beginner’s guide you need to get you running and help you get into shape and lead a healthier lifestyle. As a new runner, all of the above have definitely come into handy over the last couple of months some more than others, but everyone is different and you just need to try everything and tweak your routine or running gear until you get the perfect combination to help you excel. If you think I left out some items or missed any crucial running assistants for beginner runners, leave me a comment and let me know!