Making a decision when it comes to finding the right running clothing can be difficult. You are presented with all different shapes, sizes, colors, and fits. From a man’s perspective, it only becomes more difficult when you get to the pants. I decided to go with what is currently the most popular trend in running gear: compression running tights. I find that they offer many benefits, aren’t constricting, and are extremely comfortable.
Comfort is king, fashion is a plus…
It isn’t rocket science that if you don’t feel comfortable in what you are wearing, then your workout will lag. Comfort, in this case, applies to both the look and feel of the clothing. Even becoming comfortable with the idea of compression gear (for a man) can be a bit of a chore. This is difficult because not only do you have to confront the idea of wearing tights, but most men are also unaccustomed to wearing anything that is so snug around the calves, thighs, butt, and groin. In order to become comfortable in wearing running tights, I needed some words of advice from other men who had similar reservations.
As a wise commenter once said, “if you are wearing [running tights] in cold weather, people aren’t going to be thinking ‘what is he wearing?’, they are going to be thinking ‘I can’t believe he is outside'”. I will admit I felt extremely exposed when going out for my first run in tights. They are quite revealing, especially since it is suggested that you go commando because trying to wear underwear beneath compression tights will result in some serious bunching and discomfort. If you are uncomfortable with displaying your package for everyone to see, you can do one of two things: wear shorts over them, or wear a larger shirt/coat that covers the unmentionables. The last piece of information I came across during my research was to stick to black tights. Colors other than black will lead to obvious curves, shadows, stretches, and bulges, which is bad news if you are already self-conscious.
If you are still stuck on whether or not compression is the best way to go, then I would suggest looking over the benefits. I’ll start by saying that aside from tights, I was never able to find a single pair of running pants that were comfortable, kept me warm, and didn’t weigh a ton. Furthermore, I hate the feeling of baggy clothing (especially when running) and 90% of men’s running pants are your usual track pants which are very loose fitting. Here are a few of the other benefits I have identified:
- Aerodynamics – Unlike looser fitting clothes, compression clothing allows you to run without experiencing any drag around your body.
- Warmth – I’ve always found that baggy track pants allow for too much air to travel up the legs of the pants. With tights, the air has nowhere to go so you don’t end up with a cold draft.
- Weight – Compression clothing is much lighter, and its tight fit helps to hold in your natural body heat which, in turn, helps to limit the amount of heavy clothing you may need to wear during the winter months.
- Slimming – If there is one positive to the look of wearing running tights, then it is that my legs and butt never looked so good! Now if only fashion would pick this up as a regular style…
There are also possible scientific benefits to wearing compression gear. Two major scientific benefits that have been suggested are thermoregulation (keeps the body at its best operating temperature) and increased blood flow to the muscles. However, both of these are still being researched, and could, ultimately, be nothing but placebo effects.
It took me quite a while to decide if I was brave enough to buy, or even go out in, my running tights. For several days after I purchased them, I found myself putting them on, feeling exposed, and immediately removing them to put on something less revealing. When it comes down to it, it is more important that you feel comfortable in what you wear than anything. You are running for health, weight loss, or fun and your running clothes shouldn’t put a damper on your enjoyment. In the end, I’ve found that the running community tends to be a very accepting group of people. They don’t care what you wear, they’re just happy to see a fellow runner out hitting the pavement! And, hey, if it’s good enough for the Man of Steel, it’s good enough for me!
Steve is an Executive Recruiter at Robert Half Executive Search in Madison, WI with a business degree in Information Systems and E-Commerce from the University of Toledo. Steve loves spending his time away from work; running, gaming, watching movies, checking out new social networking tools/sites/start-ups and blogging.