One of the most underrated training tools you could ever own besides a quality pair of running shoes is a pair of nice running pants. All too often we see athletes running around in a pair of shorts while it’s cold outside and most of them wonder why they are cold.
Running pants are a great way to compliment your training efforts and are more functional than you might have previously thought. And by running pants, I don’t mean athletic pants you picked up for 10 dollars at the mall either. I’m talking about a real nice pair of running pants that have a tapered form-fitting design. Before I lose you on the whole running pants design, let’s not forget to address why it is important that we keep our legs covered when training in colder temperatures outside.
Running pants Design
The importance behind the design of running pants is that not only do they keep your legs warm, but they are also tapered at the ankle. Some might even have a zipper at the ankle, which I greatly prefer. The main reason for the tapered form-fitting design is that if you think of the body from the hip down; the leg is a lever. The last thing you want is unnecessary weight (especially heavy material) swinging or rubbing from the loose fabric at the end of the lever (ankle area).
When wearing a real nice pair of running pants, you won’t even notice that you are wearing them. Seriously! It’s a great feeling! Running pants are designed with a form-fitting design to promote a healthy and efficient running form since the material is really close to your body. They won’t restrict your range of motion, and there is no extra material around the ankle to rub, bounce, or swing around. And let’s not forget, running pants will give you that runner look and make you even feel great while running.
Keep your legs covered
Warm muscles = happy muscles
Wearing running pants is a great way to keep your legs warm during the really cold runs, warm-up routines, and especially when taking breaks in the middle of track workouts. When training, the goal is to improve performance. In order to improve performance you need to eliminate limitations in your training such as cold working muscles.
The muscles aren’t going to perform well in cold conditions and if you are not protecting them from the elements; the quality of your training will decrease because your muscles were not able to perform at their potential. Also, it is very difficult to get in a quality workout if you are distracted by shivering and a sense of how cold you feel.
I would say that one of the most underrated issues that running pants address is that they help reduce the risk of tendonitis or other serious injury to the knee from cold weather. The human body is not very well designed for keeping the patellar tendon in the knee warm, so exposing them to the cold temperatures only increases your chances of injury.
Don’t believe me, try this! While wearing shorts, put your hands on your thighs (quad muscles), now put your hands on your knees. What do you notice? Your quads are much warmer than your knees! Once again, the human body does not do a very good job at keeping the knee (especially the patellar tendon) warm. So if you decide to wear shorts and send waves of trauma up your leg with each foot contact you make with the ground when it is cold outside be my guest, but the best solution is to always wear running pants when it’s cold outside.
Common mistakes made by runners
Runners like to think of themselves as athletes who are tougher than whale snot. They train in the heat, rain, sleet, snow, wind, and even complete night-time darkness. They also train in the cold winter months wearing shorts. As addressed earlier, the knee (primary concern is the patellar tendon) is exposed to cold temperatures and is susceptible to tendonitis issues later down the road. So rather than chancing injury, maybe skip the testosterone paradigm and keep your legs (especially the knees) warm with a pair of running pants. I promise, it won’t make you “less tough”.
Baggy heavy pants
Wearing pants is a step in the right direction. However, if the pants you plan on wearing are made of a heavy material or perhaps “baggy”, then there is a good chance that you could be making minor adjustments or alterations to the efficiency of your running form from the swinging and rubbing of the material as mentioned earlier. If you are still not convinced on the running pants design or feel like it doesn’t look very appealing, be sure that when selecting a pair of pants for cold weather running that you find materials that stretch and move with you.