The clocks have gone back, and it’s the time of year when many of us think of dusting off our old trainers, stretching our creaky legs again and going out for a run.
There are tonnes of apps for it now, from the NHS’ step-by-step Couch to 5K to the hugely popular My Virtual Mission, which allows you to set ‘real life’ missions for yourself (running from London to Paris or the length of New Zealand, for example) which you then emanate through your workouts.
But while actual exercise isn’t something that can be done for you, it certainly helps to arm yourself with some great gear. With this in mind, I’ve rounded up 16 of my favourite running accessories from this season, to help with motivation as the spring weather kicks in.
1. Proskins Active leggings, £40, Proskins.co
These attractive leggings from Proskins look and feel incredibly smooth, making it easier to run by avoiding friction between the legs. They come in several great prints and are a real pleasure to wear. They’re also great for hotter weather as the special fabric means you don’t get sweaty.
2. Proviz Reflect360 running jacket, £84.99, Provizsports.com
The ever-amazing Proviz is not a brand to miss. I’ve used their cycling jackets for a long time now, and the same super-reflective material features in their running jacket, too.
A tailored fit, attractive black side-panels and breathable fabric make this jacket ideal for evening runs when the darkness can make you less visible – especially if you run on roads. The jacket is also light as a feather (just 170g), folds up really easily and contains some useful pockets; recent improvements for the 2016 model include ‘a super comfortable soft-mesh back and under arms that allows good airflow and all the heat that you build up to escape’.
3. BUFF headwear, Buffwear.co.uk
From trusted multifunctional headwear brand BUFF comes this lovely spring/summer collection, including this handy, lightweight hat, made from soft breathable fabric and ideal for chillier morning and evening runs.
This collection of technologically-advanced performance hats, caps and neckwear incorporates the latest fabric technologies to offer maximum protection and comfort, and you can really feel the softness when you wear it. It’s also great for wearing underneath a cycle helmet on wet or colder days.
4. Maui Jim Mannikin sunglasses, £199, Mauijim.com
These sunglasses from amazing Hawaiian brand Maui Jim are some of the best you’ll ever wear. They fit snugly, allowing you to exercise with ease while wearing them, and they provide an incredibly clear and softer view of your surroundings.
If you prefer a different shape, there are loads of options on their site – including specifically sporty varieties which I’ve written about before. ‘In every pair of Maui Jims you’ll find our patented, color-infused lens technology that wipes out 99.9% of glare, 100% harmful UV and boosts color via specially designed lens treatments,’ reads the website. ‘So your view is clearer, with crisper contrast and amazing brilliance.’
5. Pearl Izumi flash singlet, £29.99, Pearlizumi.co.uk
This sports apparel brand is hugely popular in the US, and rightly so. This singlet is made from stretchy, creped, ‘Transfer Dry’ fabric, meaning you never feel sweaty and it’s perfect for hot, sunny weather.
Something I really like is the slightly form-fitting shape – it looks flattering, but not skin-tight. The racerback design also allows for full movement of your arms, and the side-panels are an added bonus for extra ventilation on hot days.
6. Glo bottle top light, £8.99, Findmeagift.co.uk
This super-smart accessory provides an affordable way to make yourself more visible during early morning or evening runs. Simply screwing on the bottle top lights it up in a different colour, and it fits most standard 28mm bottles.
The Glo Bottle Top Light has approximately 75 hours of battery life, and also has a built-in clip which means you can attach it to a bag at any time – very handy!
7. Damart running pant, £49, Damart.co.uk
These comfortable, high-quality running pants from the experts at Damart are the ideal running companion. I especially love the zip pocket at the back, which is extremely useful for storing keys and iPod on the go, and I think the pink segment at the bottom of the leg looks great.
You’ll also notice that you don’t sweat in these because the fabric is so fast-drying, and the stretchy mesh enables you to take longer strides easily. As a nice touch, there’s also reflective piping on the legs to help you show up better when running in the dark or through tunnels.
8. Damart thermal top, £32, Damart.co.uk
It might seem odd to recommend a thermal top as the weather gets warmer, but on rainy or colder mornings, this top is ideal because of its ability to keep you warm while preventing over-sweating. Not only does it look great, but the built-in breathable fabric is designed to keep you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather – and you can really sense it responding to your body in differing conditions.
9. Runbell, £19.99, Runbell.co.uk
In busy cities like London especially, where you can be sharing the canals and roads with cyclists, pedestrians and dogwalkers, an accessory like the newly launched runbell can be extremely useful in helping clear the way and avoid interrupting your run.
Worn on the fingers like a ring, this comfortable accessory is easy to use and, like a bicycle bell, rapidly becomes a must-have once you start using it!
10. P20 once-a-day sun protection 150ml, £24.49, Boots
It’s always good to wear sun protection, and this slick version is great when you’re exercising. You need only apply it once and it stays on all day, even if you end up swimming or showering. It has a silky and lightweight consistency, so it doesn’t look oily on the skin, and acts as a good base for foundations and powders as well.
11. BRITA Fill&Go water bottle, £14.99, Boots
BRITA Fill&Go bottles is an easy way to make sure you’re always hydrated when on a run – it can be filled up at any tap and filters the water to reduce the levels of impurities and chlorine. Available in blue, pink, green and grey, the Fill&Go looks good too and is easy to carry in your hand.
12. Pearl Izumi W Fly jacket, £59.99, Pearlizumi.co.uk
From Pearl Izumi again comes this amazing all-weather jacket. It not only looks incredible (and comes in two two-tone colour schemes) but it is made from high-quality fabric with 360-degree reflectivity in the dark. It’s ideal to wear on windy, rainy days, but is light enough that you can carry it with you.
There’s a very handy, decent-sized pocket at the back for valuables, and I really love the internal fist mitts which seal in warmth by preventing cold air from flying up your sleeves. Finally, there’s a lot of added ventilation and you feel very unrestricted when running in it – if you love brighter colours, this jacket is for you!
13. Norrøna’s Falketind PrimaLoft100 Vest, £139, norrona.com
This super-lightweight, super-soft gilet jacket is ideal worn in warm and cold weather. The highly innovative PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Active technology works to regulate temperature, meaning you can run without overheating and offers very high breathability.
‘The PrimaLoft100 provides good insulation even when it’s wet, and has a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than fleece,’ says the Norrøna website. ‘We’ve added Power Stretch side panels for increased fit. The vest can easily be compressed into a Packable Pocket making it a natural addition to your pack.’
The jacket also has some really handy and functional features, like its very warm pockets, protective collar and one handed elastic adjustment. It’s a must for any run on cooler days.
14. Teko RunFit sock, £10.95, tekoforlife.co.uk
I can’t recommend these socks enough – even on the hottest day, they succeed in keeping your feet cool. The luxurious, ultra-fine fibres wick sweat away from the foot and the socks are the perfect height to poke just above your trainers. As if this wasn’t enough, they’re also made from 100% post-consumer regenerated material, so your eco-friendly conscience can feel squeaky clean too.
15. Bridgedale speed trail socks, £14.99, Bridgedale.co.uk
With a lovely thickness and padding at key pressure points for impact protection, these socks are great for longer runs and hiking, too. They look great and feel really comfortable without getting sweaty. There’s a great range of other types of socks on their website, too.
And finally, if you’re more of a high-tech runner…
16. MYZONE fitness tracking sports bra, £129.99, myzone.org
New on the wearables market is this super-smart sports bra by MYZONE. Designed to help monitor your workouts closely, your workout is fully tracked via the MYZONE app and it can even connect with third party equipment like treadmills. The fitness tracker is attached to this attractive, functional sports bra in a discreet design, tracking your heart-rate, calorie usage and more to provide instant feedback after exercise.
‘The MZ-3 is a next-generation heart rate monitor used to provide instant, accurate effort feedback—from anywhere,’ a statement from the brand reads. ‘Activity tiles transmit to displays allowing [people] to compare their effort to others.’