Local running experts clue us in on the best apparel for this season’s exercise.
The Cherry Blossom 10-miler has come and gone, humidity is setting in and you can feel the heat radiating off the asphalt by 8 a.m. It’s almost summer, and D.C.’s runners are hitting the trails.
The DMV is known for its scenic running routes and beginner-friendly terrain, and its reputation as a run-culture hotspot is growing steadily. The D.C. area is home to Pacers Running, the well-known company that started out as a neighborhood running store in Old Town Alexandria in 1991. Thirty years later, it has expanded and continues to serve the region’s runners, and even sponsors races and holds fun runs anyone can join.
Meanwhile, global running brand Saucony filmed their latest Ride 16 shoe campaign on the streets of D.C. Produced by D.C.-based creative agency Design Army, the campaign features local runner and DC Run Crew co-founder Kai Tramble.
But if you’re eyeballing your tired sneakers and worn-out band T-shirt and dreading that first sweaty run down the bike path, not to worry: District Fray asked Tramble, her husband Frank Tramble and Pacers’ retail buyer Victoria Sanchez for their recommendations on the latest gear to keep you looking and feeling fresh.
One exciting new offering is Pacers’ very own apparel line, the aptly-named 2:02 collection, which features shirts, leggings, hats and more in gender-neutral athletic sizing that reflects D.C.’s diverse running community.
“I would say D.C. is a mixed bag, but in the best way possible,” Sanchez says. “When you go on our fun runs, you’ll see everyone from their 20s to their 50s. D.C. is a vibrant culture. You’re going to see groups of people who wouldn’t naturally socialize together, but running culture brought them together.”
For Kai and Frank, good running gear is essential to performance.
“It allows you to focus on what matters and run at your best pace,” Frank says. “I like my gear to feel like it’s a part of my natural body. I want it to flow with my movements and keep me focused.”
“When you look good, you feel and perform even better,” Kai agrees.
Without a doubt, shoes are the most essential part of a runner’s kit. Both Kai and Sanchez are big fans of Saucony’s latest shoe offering, the Saucony Ride 16.
“It’s a versatile trainer that’s great for HIIT and run workouts like ours at DC Run Crew,” says Kai (who is the face of Saucony’s spring campaign).
“It’s great if you’re a neutral runner, and it has mono mesh that fits around your heel a little better,” Sanchez says.
Her other recommendation: the Nike Pegasus 40, Nike’s most popular offering.
For Frank, “every run has to be different for me. I get bored easily,” he says. “I love the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 — it’s my go-to for our group long runs, speed work and race day. It has the versatility I need.”
What about summer style trends in D.C.? According to Sanchez, the early 2000s are having a moment, especially for women’s apparel.
“Athletic dresses, running skirts — depending on who you talk to, some will say they never left.”
She notes that Outdoor Voices, which has a shop in Georgetown, is well known for its sporty dress line. Increasingly, people are looking for gear they can throw on for an after-work run with friends, then dry off and wear to the bar. (After all, beer is well known as a great post-workout recovery drink.)
“D.C. is huge into athleisure for both men and women,” Sanchez says. “We want stuff that allows people to do both and perform at a high level.”
“[People are wearing] brighter colors to stand out, which also stems from the need for safety as you run in low light,” says Frank.
Kai notes she’s seeing a lot of transparent running jackets: “They’re my fave right now.”
Sanchez recommends Smartwool’s Ultralite merino tops and Rabbit’s EZ tank and short sleeve offerings to get your fix of bright, functional gear. Style aside, she notes there’s also some great new post-run rehab tech out there to help runners hit the trails all summer. Chief among them are Oofos recovery shoes and sandals.
“They’re great for post-running walks and for plantar fasciitis,” she says. “We’re getting lots of folks coming in with orthopedic recommendations for its arch support.”
And to rejuvenate tired muscles, Theragun has just released its new mini 2.0 massager that’s 20 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than its previous model, making it easy to throw in your gym bag or keep in the car to use after a long run.
Running style is only getting more fun and sophisticated in the DMV. Whether you’re grinding out the miles on the road, hitting the treadmill at the gym or sprinting down at Banneker track, there’s plenty of options for shoes, apparel and tech to help you look and run your best this summer. And if you’re looking for a new route, Sanchez recommends taking the Mount Vernon trail from Old Town to the airport and back — you can reward yourself with a little something from Pacers’ flagship afterwards.
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