The Importance of Good Kit – Legs and Body

Last weekend with no race to run, I amused myself writing a post about the kit I choose to use on my hands and feet, and I was in all honesty blown away with the response to an article about gloves socks and shoes! This week, with yet another race free weekend to contend with, I’m writing the second instalment, which will basically cover everything else I wear and why.

This time I will start at the top and work my way down.

Top Half

For my first two races, I just shoved on my original RP Combat Conditioning top, without giving it much thought. This was a vest made from cotton, and actually isn’t the best choice for racing. The problem with cotton is that it will absorb water, stay wet, get heavy and leave you cold.

For Warrior Run, on a lovely day in October, this didn’t matter at all, but it was a different story when I did Beat the Bog in November – if I knew then what I know now, I might not have spent an hour blue after that race.

Base Layers

The first thing I have learned is that if its cold, you are going to want a base layer. I got myself a Nike Dri-fit base layer in February before doing a training session on the Nuts Challenge course, and I also have a thinner RPCC long sleeved top, giving me an option depending on the temperature.

Nike and RPCC base layers
Nike and RPCC base layers

The Nike top performed really well in the cold conditions at Nuts, it is very warm and keeps you warm even when you are wet, but would probably leave me too warm as the temperature starts to rise, the other is thinner and a better option if its not freezing. I like having the option, and I use the RPCC top on cooler training sessions as well.


On your top half you should really wear t shirts or vests made of technical material, something that is going to be breathable and not hold water (You could also run topless, I know a few guys who pick this option!).

I have a range of vests to choose from when I run, which I either wear on their own or over a base layer. Once you have run a few races you will also start to pick up a collection of race tees which you could use – I tend to use mine for training though.

A small selection of my choice of vests
A small selection of my choice of vests

For those of you who might be a little more self-conscious bare in mind that the lighter colours are quite unforgiving on the figure once they have got wet and are clinging to your every lump and bump, the darker colours hide this better – just a little tip. You can pick up a decent t-shirt from any sports shop, or on-line without too much trouble.

Bottom Half

As with every other section of kit I have managed to make some mistakes on my bottom half too. In this case it was only recently that I have made kit errors, I’m still learning too!

Running Tights

In the colder months it’s not too difficult to get it right, don’t wear cotton, wear something that will wick away moisture and keep you warm. I would also suggest nothing too baggy.

I ran my first race in a pair of normal Nike running shorts (more on this later) and my second in a pair of Karrimor leggings picked up from Sports Direct, but preparing for Nuts I wanted something a little warmer, so I picked up a pair of Nike running leggings that were made for winter and had Dri-fit technology. These performed great and I’ve worn them quite a few times for races, although they are reaching the end of their life now, as they are wearing through a bit on the knees now, which I think was a souvenir from the Dirty Dozen race in April.

Nike Running Leggings
Nike Running Leggings

I really dislike being too hot when I run, so once the weather starts to turn a bit warmer I usually opt for shorts.  Now for the problem with my normal running shorts, once they got wet they started to ride up and cause rubbing – not pleasant or convenient when you are part way through a race I can assure you. They would still be OK to wear however over the top of some compression shorts or similar, again this might be something to consider if you don’t like the look of yourself in tight shorts.


The first pair of shorts I bought specifically for racing were a pair of X-Racewear ladies run shorts. These include a convenient bib pocket on one leg which stops you losing your race number in the midst of a race – a problem I have had before. These shorts are tight, but there is also a unisex pair if you prefer things a bit loser. I find these really useful for keeping my race number safe, however I have found the number can get a bit screwed up sometimes. I wear these over the top of my running tights, or the compression shorts which will be up next. They are also quite short so I’m not really very likely to wear them without something underneath, but this is really just my own personal preference.

X Racewear Shorts
X Racewear Shorts


As I have mentioned above I also have a pair of 2XU compression shorts, which I bought along with some 2XU compression calf guards. I initially got these after suffering some cramp towards the end of the Dirty Dozen race, which was, at the time, the longest distance I had run. I have worn these to my last few races and they have performed really well, no cramp at all, and they also help to reduce recovery time. In fact it’s not unusual to find me at home after a training session sitting around in my compression wear to help aid recovery, and It has worked so well that I have since bought a new pair of full compression tights, and am considering the purchase of a compression top too.

2XU compression shorts and calf guards
2XU compression shorts and calf guards

The compression wear is pricey, but I’m sure I’ve said before that I think good kit is worth it. For me the lack of DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) is totally worth it.

The shorts and compression wear were all purchased from my favourite website for kit – Obstacle Kit Ltd – which I know I plugged a lot in my last post, but they really are very good at what they do.

I think that’s more or less it, the last bit of kit I take to my races is my dryrobe. I have mentioned this before in some of my race blogs, but it is amazing and deserves an honourable mention. After a race you chuck it on, it dries you, keeps you warm, and is big enough to change inside of – very useful at a race, where changing facilities are not exactly 5 star. This was also bought from Obstacle Kit, and I wouldn’t be without it.

Chilling in my dryrobe with Tania
Chilling in my dryrobe with Tania Mellish  at Beast in the East