Running Kit for Every Need

Running Kit for Every Need

Hands up who thought that taking up running was as easy as putting on any old pair of trainers and running out of the door without a second thought? This was my mistaken belief when, in 2006, I put on a pair of Puma Speedcats and jogged the two miles from my parents' home to the neighbouring village and back again. I was unable to walk upstairs properly for about three weeks afterwards. Running has a whole host of physical and mental health benefits, but it also puts a lot of strain on your body and wearing the wrong kit is likely to result in painful injuries that put your running on hold for weeks (or even months). 

Having learnt this the hard way, I have since become a huge fan of natural gait analysis, which pairs your unique running style with your ideal running shoes (or the nearest thing to them that your chosen running shop stocks). I now understand from the video taken during my gait analysis at a specialist running shop that when I run my ankles collapse inwards and I need a pair of trainers that works hard to correct my over-pronation. I am envious of neutral runners whose foot strike is exactly how nature intended, but I am also grateful that being average in every way when it comes to sizing, I will probably always have my pick of the wide range of running kit on the market.

Any runner who has particularly large, small or wide feet, is hugely tall or very short or is bigger than the standard XL measurements for men or a size 18 for women, will probably have struggled to find running kit that fits at some point. In a market that always seems to cater for the most common average, it can be frustrating for anyone one who doesn't fit that mould to find items that fit their exact requirements. 

With this in mind, we have put together two lists - one for women and one for men - detailing the specialist running shops and online retailers that are working hard to create quality products for runners who don't fit the 'Joe Average' mould. Whether you need a pair of running shoes in a size 15 or a hi-viz running t-shirt in a size 22, at least one of these brands should be able to help kit you out for your next challenge, be it Couch to 5K or marathon running. 

Specialist Running Kit for Women

Sports Bras in Larger Cup Sizes

Walking into a sports shop to find your perfect running bra is not as easy as it should be. The majority of sports bras on the market are designed for low to medium impact exercise. It is surprisingly difficult to find high impact bras in a lot of shops, but you need to find one, as breasts with inadequate support can move up to 14 cm during strenuous exercise and this can damage your Cooper's ligaments (the connective tissue that shapes and supports your breasts). 

So, you know you need a high impact bra, but the challenges of bra shopping don't stop there... do you get an encapsulation bra or a compression bra? The former has two cups for optimum support and the latter looks more like a crop top than a bra and squashes your breasts against your chest to minimise movement when you run. Compression bras are better suited to women with smaller breasts, so plus size runners are better off looking for high impact encapsulation bras, but which companies sell them? 

Runderwear's Easy On Running Bra is available in cup sizes D to H. At £60, it's not cheap but it provides great comfort and support for high impact exercise. If you are a regular runner you will get your money's worth out of this bra. If you need any further persuasion, 85% of 459 reviewers gave it five stars, so it really does do what it promises. 

Panache know how to look after big boobs! This high impact encapsulation bra is available in D-J cup sizes and features gel-encased underwires, cushioned straps and a padded hook and eye at the back, making it super comfortable for running. 

Women's Plus Size Running Leggings

Adidas offer plus size technical running leggings in sizes up to 4XL. The designs aren't the most interesting, but there is a decent choice of colours and they do plus size sports bras, shorts and running tops too, so if you are looking to get a range of new kit from a single supplier, you can't really go wrong. 

Tikiboo - If you want leggings in more exciting designs than Adidas can offer, explore the range available at Tikiboo. Many of their colourful and eye-catching leggings are available up to size 3XL (and feature useful extras such as side pockets to carry your phone and other essentials when you're on the go). Some of the Tikiboo running tops are also available up to 2XL, so you can get a fresh new running wardrobe in one shop.  

Running Shoes for Plus Size Female Runners

Tempting as it sounds to opt for max-soft trainers, plus size runners should avoid really soft cushioned trainers and stability shoes in which the outer side of the midsole is softer than the inner wall. Look for trainers that offer a secure upper fit that cater to your specific gait (get it analysed at a specialist running shop) and consider what you are going to want to do in your shiny new shoes, as training, racing and trail running will all require a different type of trainer. This article from Sole Review offers a great insight into the art of trainer selection for plus size runners. Brooks, Saucony and Nike all offer designs that cater to the requirements of plus size runners. 

Women's Plus Size Running Tops

Proviz long and short sleeved running tops in plus sizes

Proviz - If you are out training on the road in conditions with poor visibility, you'll need a bright, reflective technical running top that will help you stay visible to other road users.  The new REFLECT360 long-sleeve running top and the REFLECT360 short-sleeve running top are available up to size 2XL. 

Reebok - Along with many of the other big name brands, Reebok now offers a range of plus size running gear. Their Burnout Tank Top comes in four different colours and is available up to size 4XL. As part of the brand's mission to reduce their carbon emissions and keep plastic out of landfill, the Burnout Tank is made from 55% recycled polyester. 

Running Trainers for Women with Wide Feet

On Running - The distinctive design of On trainers has made them a sought after running accessory since they hit the market in 2010. Any road running women with wide feet and a neutral gait will be delighted that the On Cloudflow is now available in a wide fitting. 

Hoka - If you are plagued by persistent injury and also have wide feet, it may be worth giving Hoka One One trainers a go. Popular with ultra runners and those who struggle with niggling injuries, Hoka's have previously been criticised for being a bit narrow, so they have introduced the wider fitting Hoka Bondi. These platform-profile trainers offer exceptional cushioning and have a meta rocker that helps you push from heel to forefoot and power you forward. 

Running Trainers for Women with Big Feet

If you have been running for a while you will know that sales assistants in running shops will often tell you to size up by at least half a size when you buying new running trainers, as your feet swell when you run and the last thing you want is for your poor toes to hit the front of your shoe repeatedly. This is at best uncomfortable and at worse will traumatise your toes so much that the nails fall off. If you are a female runner with large feet, it can be a bit soul destroying to find that sizing up puts you out of the market for most women's trainers and means you have to buy men's trainers instead. 

New Balance - With a range of women's running trainers available up to UK size 11, New Balance are a breath of fresh air for women with size 8.5 feet or larger, allowing them to size up without having to skip into the men's section instead! 

Nike - Many of Nike's road and trail running trainers for women are available up to a size 9.5 and their sprinting spikes are available in a size 13! 

Running Kit for Tall Women

Lululemon - they ain't cheap, but they do have a decent range of leggings and trousers for tall women. You can filter your search results by inseam (they go up to 31", which is adequate for most tall ladies when it comes to leggings), which means you don't need to fall in love with a design only to find that they don't do it in your size. 

Rainbows and Sprinkles - longer length running leggings

Rainbows and Sprinkles - If you are seriously leggy and like your leggings to be fun as well as super long, check out the 33" inside leg measurement designs at Rainbows and Sprinkles. You can even choose between having a thigh pocket or a waistband pocket for each design you select. Be aware that sizing runs big, so someone who is usually a size 8-10 should get a size 6-8. 

Running Kit for Petite Women

No one wants to have to run in bright pink unicorn themed running kit because the only stuff they could find to fit was in the kid's section of the shop. There is nothing wrong with bright, playful kit, but it's nice if you get to choose it and not be forced into it out of necessity (not to mention the fact that clothes made for 12-year-old girls are not made to fit petite adult women). 

Reebok - If you are looking for a brand that does an extensive range of leggings for petite women, then Reebok is a good place to start. Their petite range doesn't seem to offer any tops, but in terms of leggings, the choice is exceptional. 

Avo Activewear - Stocking a range of leggings, crop tops and sports bras for petite women, Avo Activewear is well-reviewed and offers both plain basic items and funky, patterned designs. 

Specialist Running Kit for Men

Men's Running Kit in Large Sizes

No matter how you phrase it, searches for running kit for big and tall men returns results for women's kit. So where do you find kit for men who are bigger and/or taller than average? - activewear for tall men - If you are taller than average but NOT bigger than average, this website specifically for tall men has joggers, compression tights and shorts designed to fit tall men. It also offers a variety of plain technical tops which could be used for running and other active pursuits. 

Adidas - Adidas offer a small selection of running tops for tall men and a range of running tops that go up to size 3XL

Nike - Offers a good range of running tops and running trousers up to size 4XL. 

Running Shoes for Plus Size Male Runners

As a general rule, bigger runners are looking for trainers that offer good shock absorption. However, you should not be tempted or mis-advised to opt for the softest, most cushioned trainers available, comfy as they do sound. For several technical reasons relating to durability, heel drop and midsole softness, heavier runners are better off opting for firm, stable running shoes. Road runners with a neutral gait should investigate the Asics Kayano Lite 2 and the Adidas Ultraboost and anyone looking for a supportive trail shoe ideal for heavier runners should check out the Saucony Peregrine 12.

Whether you are just starting out as a runner or upgrading a well-used pair of trainers, go to a reputable running shop and get your gait analysed. Brands change the spec of their trainers with the seasons, so a tried-and-trusted design may have changed beyond recognition in its new iteration. Keep referring to the experts to find which trainers suit your particular gait and, from the shortlist offered, ask for advice about which ones are best for heavier builds. 

Running Kit for Short Men

Adidas - offer a whole range of sporting apparel for petite men, not just petite runners. No need to feel like you’re drowning in fabric as you run down the road, you can now get kitted out in running gear designed for a smaller frame

Running Trainers for Men with Wide Feet

Anyone who has struggled to find wide fitting trainers probably knows the intricacies of width measurements, but for the un-inducted, a standard width measurement would be a D. Runners with wider than average feet should look for 2E or EE trainers and those with very wide feet should look for 4E or EEEE trainers. As with all fittings, some brands have a generous standard width measurement and some have quite a narrow one. 

New BalanceOffers most of their running shoe range with a width fitting of up to 2E (or EE)

Asics - Offer a decent range of their running trainers for men with a wide measurement option.  

Brooks - tend to have quite a generous D measurement, but they also offer 2E and 4E sizes in many of their trainers too. 

Running Trainers for Men with Big Feet (Size 14+)

Adidas - The Adidas UK website offers running shoes up to a size 15 (although feedback suggests they run on the small side, so customers should size up by half a shoe size). If you go to American site, which specialises in clothing for tall men and shoes in sizes 14-20 (UK equivalent 13 - 19), they stock Adidas running shoes in sizes up to US18 (UK17). There is a $49.95 delivery cost for orders being shipped to the UK, but if you are really struggling to find running trainers in your size, it may just be worth it! They stock all kinds of other shoes too, so you could probably get more bang for your delivery charge buck, but you do pay a bit more the more pairs you add.  

Nike - Nike is at the forefront of running shoe technology and collaborates closely with elite runners to advance the performance of the running shoes it produces (Eliud Kipchoge wore Nikes for his historic sub two-hour marathon in 2019). The brand has worked hard to create a range of options for bigger runners and offers a selection of running trainers for men with larger-than-average feet. The UK Nike website stocks running shoes up to size 14, though Oddball, the US site mentioned above, stocks a limited range of men's Nike trainers in sizes up to US18. 

New Balance - The New Balance UK website offers a comprehensive range of running trainers up to size UK14.5 and the Fresh Foam 1080v11 is available up to a size 15.5.

Share Your Secrets... If you know of a brand that goes above and beyond for plus size, petite, wide-footed, big-footed or tall runners, do let us know. We can edit them into our list and help to spread the word! 

Article by Hannah Rogan
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