Hallelujah! We are almost done with summer heat and humidity! It seemed especially brutal this year, right? As we watch the days get shorter and the leaves start to turn, it’s finally time to start preparing for cooler temperatures. I can’t wait to go for a run on that first crisp fall day of the season!
If you’re like me, your running wardrobe may be in need of a bit of a refresh. Now, I’m cheap, so I hate to spend a ton of money on running clothes. Instead, I look for practical items in big box stores and discount stores like Ross, Marshall’s, and TJMaxx. But there are some things to keep in mind while you’re shopping.
My biggest item in need of updating were my running bras. I have been wearing the Victoria’s Secret Incredible bra for years. I loved that they were always included in their semi-annual sales, and I could reliably purchase a couple every six months or so for around $15. But, to my dismay, they stopped making this style. I don’t think I have a single one in my collection that is less than 4 years old. And, ladies, you know that’s too old! They no longer fit well, and cause hot spots with almost every run.
My sports bras serve double duty because I also wear these under my scrubs for work. If there’s anything the pandemic has taught me, it’s that I need to be prepared to sweat while providing patient care. Besides having a physically demanding job, I also may be required to donn PPE to work with certain patients. I can’t stay comfortable in a regular bra when I’m layered with plastic gowns and face shields!
My hunt for an affordable sports bra has been long and challenging. I was ready to give in and invest in a $75 “real” running bra, the thought of which nearly killed me. But I lucked out during a recent trip to Walmart. I found a great, supportive sports bra that retails $13.98! I bought one to try, and I loved it. So I bought a few more online. They were on sale for $11.96! They have new patterns that have arrived in stores for fall which retail a bit higher at $15.98. Still a bargain.
This bra is made by Avia. It has molded cups, padded straps, and has ventilation built in. Although slightly less supportive than my industrial strength Victoria’s Secret bras, they do the job, and are amazingly comfortable. When I’m wearing my hydration pack, the straps of the pack provide the added support I need for long runs.
Don’t be afraid to try bras at big box stores like Walmart and Target, especially if you are of an average cup size. You may be able to find something that works well, and something affordable enough to buy a few, not just one or two. If you have time, try on a few styles, and do a jump test in the fitting room, making sure they provide enough support for the high intensity activity of running.
Now, I hardly ever buy running shirts. That’s because I have enough technical singlets from my running teams and races that I’m never in need! But do avoid full cotton shirts. They will not wick away sweat!
Pants are a different story. I currently have 2 pairs of capris that I actually like to run in, and 2 pairs of run tights. The rest of my pants are just not comfortable for running; I save these for strength training. So, I’m in need of a couple pairs.
Don’t get me wrong. I would love to walk into my local run shop, Athleta, or Lululemon and buy whatever I want. Alas, I can’t afford this luxury. So I look to discount stores instead, often finding some decent name brand items there, plus lesser known brands that are of good quality, too.
You can find some great deals at discount stores. You just need to know what to look for! I always look at the seams. First, the fewer the better. The more seams there are, the more opportunities for chafing. Second, look at the type of seam. You want flat seams, not raised. Raised seams flip back and forth with every step, and after many miles of that, will definitely cause some hot spots. Third, avoid pants with lots of panels, again, because of the number of seams! Another reliable source for good, affordable running gear is Old Navy. I have several pair of bike shorts and really like their leggings, too. It’s also worthwhile to try on the merchandise before you buy it. Again, the jump test really helps, just to make sure the pants will stay in place!
I ended up buying this pair of Under Armor leggings from Ross for about $20. The seams are super flat, and the colors are awesome! I have a surprising amount of neon yellow shirts and jackets that match the neon in these pants, so I thought these would be more fun to wear with yellow than just plain black.
The one thing I will pay full price for are my running shoes. I have to take care of my feet! If you’ve been running in the same shoes since spring, it’s likely time for new ones. I use my Garmin app to track mileage on my shoes.
I absolutely recommend checking out your local running store to get fitted for shoes. It’s best if they do a running gait analysis, not a walking one. They will then recommend shoes based on your gait mechanics, and it makes a difference! If you’re in the metro Richmond or Fredericksburg, VA area, I highly recommend Lucky Road Run Shop. They even have a rewards program, giving you $13 off your next pair!
As we start new routines with back to school and the temperatures make their eventual transition to cooler days, take inventory of your fall/winter gear. Replace what you need to! Remember, you don’t have to spend a ton of money. You can find great items in big box stores and discount stores, saving your budget for more important gear like shoes! It will be worth taking the time to find gear that fits well and makes you feel excited to get out and run!
The lead photo is of the Virginia Capital Trail in October.
If you’re interested, I made reels about both the bras and shopping for running pants on Instagram. My handle is @annecreates.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.