Runner Along The Canal

Adapt & thrive: the evolution of running kit

Running kit has undergone many changes over the years from baggy clothing to short shorts, cotton to technical fabrics. What you wear is as important as your choice of running shoe, distance and terrain and most runners have a favourite brand.

Asics, Ronhill, Adidas, New Balance, Nike, Salomon, these are familiar names to runners who know what they like (and don’t like!) and remain loyal to a brand often for many years. What they all have in common is their breathable qualities that enable sweat to be wicked away from the body along with fit and comfort.

There is also compression clothing that fits like a second skin and worn as part of a recovery strategy after a training session or race. However, debate continues as to whether they improve your running performance.

Some people like to co-ordinate their running outfit whereas others are happy to throw on any t-shirt and shorts irrespective of colour. But dashing out the door in a moth eaten old t-shirt and a pair of jogging bottoms you wear for pottering around the house or garden is best avoided.

Before performance attire the choices were cotton, nylon, polyester and fleece until marathon legend Ron Hill, drawing upon his background in textile chemistry, pioneered a range of clothing made from synthetic fabrics. These included wrap over shorts, mesh vests and waterproof jackets. Not forgetting the famous ‘tracksters’ that became ubiquitious.

The most recent develoment in kit evolution is eco-friendly materials such as recycled polyester, tencel and bamboo. They are designed with the environment in mind whilst retaining the same properties, i.e. wicking and are reusable as well. An increasing number of race management companies offer finishers T-shirts in these materials.

There is an endless range to choose from but go with what suits you and stay safe out there.

Looking back over the decades it's clear that Accrington's own Ron Hill played a key role in the development of sports clothing, for that and his personal sporting achievements he was awarded the MBE. Many people have asked if Ron doesn't deserve greater recognition but that's another story!

Image by Maciej Cieslak from Pixabay

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