Friday, 21 October 2011

Socks for Running

X Socks with my Asics Gel 1150s
In the world of running there's a lot of attention given to running shoes; this is appropriate as they are the single most important bit of kit for a runner.  Closely related but rarely mentioned are socks so I thought I would give them a positive mention today.

What are running socks?
They are made specifically for running in and are different to ordinary sports socks.  They normally have a sporty look, often in white.  They come in different styles, for instance ankle length or those that are almost invisible.  Having tried both types, I think I prefer the longer sock but there's not much difference here.

What do running socks do, how are they different?
Running produces a lot of sweat which needs dealing with in order to keep your feet dry.  Good running socks will wick away perspiration so feet don't become clammy and uncomfortable.  To do this they are probably not made from cotton but instead from a synthetic material - also known as being "technical".

Running socks also need to be durable and stand up to a lot of repetitive pounding, in fact I once tried my wife's pedometer and it showed over 10,000 strides in 6 miles.  That is hard work for feet, shoes and the socks in between them.  The socks also need extra support or strength in particular places in order to cope with the demands their owners will - I think the heel is a vulnerable area.

My X socks have some ridges built into the construction and this gives room for some air to circulate around my feet.

What else makes a good running sock?
Quickly forgetting you're even wearing them!  You should not be aware of them as you're running.  Also being made in a seamless way in order to avoid scope for chaffing or undue rubbing is important.

Getting a good fit is important.  You should be able to get them in a size which roughly reflects your shoes size.  Mine are also labelled Left and Right (which amused my kids!) in order to give a really good fit.  I cannot emphasise how important getting a good fit is so important; the wrong size, shape, material or design could lead to blisters - this can be disastrous.

How much do they cost?
Allow £10 per pair, give or take a little.  That might sound expensive but when considering their importance and durability, it's not too bad.  The X Socks in the above photo have served me well for about 2,000 miles

Anything else?
  • Be prepared to experiment in getting the right shoe / sock combination right as it can make all the difference.  If you cannot afford these right now, simply save up and don't be put-off by running in ordinary socks for now
  • It is worth getting 2 or 3 pairs
  • Although they are expensive, they really are worth it.
  • Buy them with your new running shoes and ask for advice if you're unsure which to go for.
  • Sometimes relatives ask for birthday or Christmas present suggestions and socks seem ideal for people, price wise.
  • It is better to have a clean pair for each run - personal hygiene
  • See my recent article on looking after your feet.

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