One of the hardest things with being a smaller than average runner is finding good quality technical kit that fits well. For me I’ll be honest, it’s always a bit of a nightmare. My long suffering husband is forever having to put up with me complaining whilst outdoor shopping. Why do they stock everything for giants? and why is the girls section a fraction of the size of the mens?
It’s not that I’m that skinny. Although I come up as smaller than a size 6 UK size or XXS. I have calves that seem to bust the seams of most trousers and pretty chunky thighs from pounding hill – definitely not a waif! I also eat pretty large portions to everyone’s annoyance. But when it comes to trouser length, waist size, shoulder width and arm length the “petite” outdoor kit market has a long way to go. Trousers falling down constantly or arms flapping all over the place are not conducive to comfortable run…
I have however persevered over the years and now have a few trusted pieces of kit I’ve cobbled together from many frustrated days shopping around. Here’s a list of what’s working for me at the moment as shopping tips for you smaller runners!
Innov8 ATC 3QTR Running Tights (size 8)– although a looser fit than my compression tights, they do fit the waist well and end just below the knee. Reflective detail is brilliant as tested on quite a few night runs.
Skins Capri Compression Tights (XS) – most compression wear does not “compress”in the right places on short legs, these do. Ending just below the knee I don’t need to worry about length.
Sub Compression Elite RX Womens Compression Leggings (XS) – the first full length compression legging I have found to fit and they are pretty snug too. At a much cheaper price that many compression on the market I love these and have just ordered some of their thermal versions!
Innov8 short sleeved AT/C Base SSZ W, size 8, pink – although looser than some running tops, its really breathable and does not chafe on long runs. The front zip helps with ventilation on hot days which I love.
Northface womens Reaxion Ampere T-Shirt (XS) – although not technically designed as a running I top I love this for running, walking and climbing. A good easy all rounder and comes in a nice range of colours also.
Arcteryx Phase SL zip Neck LS/ Womens (size xs) – I’ve actually had this for a few years and so have the older version but the new version fits just as well. It’s a nice slimline fit for smaller frames and has shorter arms than most long sleeve tops.
I’ve been converted to Haglofs LIM range for all running jackets – not as light as some running jackets but they stand up to so much bad weather. These new light weight version are great for a shower but not ultra distances in constant rain in the lake district. I can interchange these with walking jackets in the summer and sizes go down to xxs which is awesome.
Waterproof: Haglofs LIM Q jacket (XXS)– i love the thumb loops which are much better for running and the fact the hood is helmet compatible and with a good peak. It would be nicer perhaps in a brighter colour but it has clever reflective detail throughout.
Insulation layer: Haglofs LIM Shield Insulated (XXS): I picked this up in the sale and it’s one of my best buys yet. Bright yellow, it’s great for dimly lit trails and dark nights. Its light where you sweat the most with an insulated front for colder nights. It also pairs perfectly with the waterproof.
I’m a minimalist runner with a forefoot strike so I go for lighter shoes and that have a wider toe box. Actually this is the only piece of clothing I have to often go up a size the more I run!
Toe Toe socks: These are great for longer runs where your toes may start to rub. I’ve done miles in mine and they have been great at preventing blisters.
Merrell Bare Access Road: I used to love Merrell barefoot shoes but they sadly seem to be phasing them out. Their road version suit me well with a roomy toe box and just enough protection from the road without over cushioning. After wearing my trail shoes these feel light as a feather.
Saloman Fellraiser: These are now sadly discontinued but replaced with the speedtrack which I am informed in the same but with a different insole (we will see). Although Saloman are usually far too narrow for me, these work well and have a much more racing flat design but will tough fell lugs. The guy in the shop described them as the perfect shoe for a Bob Graham, and so my love affair started…
Inno8 xtalon 200: This is one of their standard fit shoes so much wider toe box, designed for very muddy trail and with minimalist cushioning. Although not for long distances for the Brecons they have been a dream come true.
I’d love to hear from other smaller runners (or mountaineers/walkers) who have other favorite kit. Just message me your ideas!