Running in style: activewear that doesn’t cost the earth

Is there anything more boring than talking about running? Perhaps talking about your children, but running is right up there, unless you are a newly-addicted running addict like me and then you can listen and talk for days. So whilst I’ll spare you the full chat – save to say that there’s nothing that puts me on an even keel, lifts me up when I’m feeling down or just snaps me out of ‘it’ than a run outside (always outside) – I will talk to you about running gear. Or yoga gear. Or gym gear. Whatever you call the bits of lycra you pull on when you’re off to do exercise (or do the school run – because let’s face it, it’s the easy cheat to getting ready in the morning) – and because I don’t have a gazillion pounds to spend on gym gear (however lovely it is), I’m going to talk about the high street, because that is where it’s at these days….

Whether you’re a four-times a week gym bunny, an every-now-and-then runner or a school run lycra lover, you probably own at least one pair of sports leggings. Now, I love a wildly patterned sports legging – quite possibly with mesh inserts – but sometimes they can be ridiculously expensive – north of £100 for a pair, which is why it’s such brilliant news that the high street has caught on and are producing some not only fantastic looking, but also technically brilliant sportswear. Queen of the pack is most definitely Zakti Active, which launched quietly (I think it was quietly) a year or so ago. Owned by the founder of Mountain Warehouse, Zakti specialises in active wear and with leggings starting from £15, they are bloody brilliant. Breathable and in some cases reflective, these are the real deal when it comes to exercise. I have a pair that I’ve been running in for the last month and I can safely say they work brilliantly – nicely high-waisted, a good solid fabric and a great pattern. These patterned leggings are £15 in the sale, these mesh Capri leggings are £25 and these thermal running leggings (ideal for cold mornings) are now £18. These patterned mesh ones by Kimberly Wyatt (pictured above) are at the top end of the scale, but are gorgeous. I also have a Zakti running vest. While I like my leggings I tight, I prefer my tops loose, so wear this over another vest. This could also work well. I would also really like this reflective running jacket – a must for autumn/winter runs and something I need to invest in. And a quick shout out for Zakti’s men’s range, which my husband vouches for. His gym gear is by Zakti and performs (apparently) brilliantly.

I’m also a fan of Gap Fit. Made from breathable fabric, these camo-print leggings are similar to a pair I bought last year. They fit beautifully and move with you whilst you run, so you don’t have to worry about any slippage. These colour block ones are also good and at £44.95 pretty good value for this kind of thing. The Capris are even cheaper (from £24.95) and actually better, I think for running (unless you’re going off-road). These are more expensive, but I like the pattern.

And, a quick shout out for H&M. I haven’t tried their ‘sports tights’ as they call them, but I do have a pair of their running shorts, which I really like. The fabric of these leggings is fast-drying and at £24.99, they are great value. This top also looks good – loose, bare-armed and only £8.99. This running jacket, which is silver (great for dreary winter days) and lightweight looks fantastic. It also has a hood and reflective details. I can’t see a downside.

Finally, it goes without saying that you’ll need a very supportive sports bra. I can’t say I’ve tried a lot, but I do have a version of this extra high impact one from M&S, which holds me in tight. It also has a zip at the front, which for some reason, I find a brilliant touch! If you have any great activewear tips (or running tips even!!) then I’d love to know…

Image: Asics

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