Advice about good but hopefully low-price running tops please :)

I have spent very little on my running gear so far. All I've got really is the shoes and some double-layer socks. I also have a little belt for my phone and keys, and also running bras which I'm still not 100% sold on but that's another story. But apart from that I still run in the same clothes I started c25k in. My main kit is just some ordinary track suit trousers and a few long-sleeve t-shirts and vests which I set aside as my 'running tops' (mainly because they were getting too shabby for normal daywear!). The trousers are okay for now, being more comfortable now that they've got looser, but the tops are now way too big, and also they aren't the right fabric, meaning I come home looking much more sweaty than I probably need to (I'm also concerned that running in non-breathable tops has probably not helped my running technique that much, esp when we had the hotter weather). I'm now in the market for new running tops, but the problem is I'm just so uninformed. Can you guys help?

I'm after long sleeve tops, as we're approaching winter, and I'm fairly ambivalent about colour. The key words I've been looking at so far have been 'wicking' and 'dri fit' to try and solve the sweating issue. But this often turns up things that are £30+ which is a very large outlay for my low income, and would certainly mean I could only get one top. It would be good to be able to get at least two. In the past people on here have advised looking in Lidl, Aldi, Sports Direct, even charity shops for cheaper running gear, but I think I need a bit more of an idea of what I'm looking for so I find something that's the best for what I can afford, rather than buying cheap and getting cheap as the saying goes.

Basically what I'm asking is would just any running top be a massive improvement compared to my current non-breathable tops, or should I be looking for specific things like 'wicking' and 'dri fit'? Please advise and also feel free to point out where I'm going wrong :)


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46 Replies

  • I really would recommend sports direct but if you can go to a store its better as sometimes the sizes are a bit different i.e. better if you can try on, have a look on the website though just look in womens running clothing, any of the tops will be the right material you need and very affordable, they wash well too 😊

  • Thanks Jules50, I guess I just need to take a punt, maybe get one of the cheaper SD ones and see if I like it, then buy more if it works well...

  • I've bought loads of stuff at Sports direct.

    This is my favourite top at the moment

    a great light top for the warmer weather (I get really hot when running).

    i have this style for colder weather.

  • Thanks. I'm going to make a list, these are all really good tips :)

  • Depends on your budget but for good value running clothes, Sports Direct are good. I bought some Capri Trousers there which are fantastic, light and well fitting and they only cost maybe £10, even have a cool zip up pocket in the back for my house key and reflective strips on the legs. Bought a great top there too, light fabric which is breathable and fits perfectly, shaped but not skin tight, so cool to run in. Sure they also have long sleeved tops there. Julie

  • Thanks, that's really good to know. I haven't got as far as thinking about trousers, useful zip pockets sound good though, an improvement on my clunky running belt...

  • Hi Ruth, I'm not far ahead of you in terms of gear. I bought one Nike running top in Sports Direct, which I always wear as it's so much nicer to run in than a normal t-shirt. Much less sweaty. I think it was about £15, but I was looking at the Karrimor ones in SD and they are pretty much identical and only £6.50, so that will be my next buy x

  • Hey Gludwig, great to see you again :) I just looked at the ordinary running tops on the Sports Direct site and the Karrimor ones do look good. I guess I need to just go and try them on

  • I just had a look too - they have long-sleeved ones for £7.50. Sounds like your running has been going really well lately :)

  • Okay I can definitely afford £7.50. Looks like I need to get off my arse and go to SD. It has been going well thanks, maybe it's the cooler weather, also I've lost the excess weight which I think helps too. How's your running going?

  • Yes, really good thanks. Not in terms of distance or particular improvement but I've been so enjoying it because amazingly my husband has started running too. I'm doing C25K with him (my third time!) It's so nice because he's really enthusiastic too. I too am much happier with the cooler weather!

  • That's great. You're a fully converted runner now, even recruiting others too :) I've been re-listening to some of the c25k podcasts too, now that I managed to get some new running earphones, I'll never get bored of them!

  • I have a karrimor one they are fine and really comfy. Also keep an eye oyt in aldi and lidl they quite often sell running gear and reslly reasonable price, i bought a long sleeved one beginning if this year from aldi and a lightweight running jacket x

  • I used to live next door to a Lidl but the non food areas were always so chaotic, I never managed to find any running gear, only weird cooking gadgets and children's school clothes etc. But I think that's a few votes for Karrimor now. My Karrimor shoes have served me well that's for sure :)

  • I'm fairly sure I saw some in Primark

  • Wow, I hadn't thought of Primark. I forget that ordinary shops sell running gear too. I must have been a bit tunnel vision all these years and not noticed!

  • Karrimor from SportsDirect or equivalent from Decathlon should do the trick.

    My personal recommendation would be to go for dri-fit rather than pure cotton. However, that remains personal choice.

    Good luck!

  • Is dri-fit always going to be in the higher price bracket though? I guess it probably is...

  • Keep an eye on SportsDirect's newsletter. They send deals every day. I bought a few dri-fit tops for £4 each in one of their sale :-)

  • Really? Okay I guess I need to get on the mailing list, thanks!

  • I just bought my first long sleeved top (Karrimor) at SD yesterday - it was £11.99 (with zip opening at the neck); the one with the round neck was £9.99 I think, but they didn't have it in my size. I initially want it for cycling to work in the mornings, so I can still just wear my lightweight hi-vis jacket rather than a thicker one.

    I am also planning on looking at Decathlon as I have a lot of stuff from there for the milder times of the year. Depends on how close you live to one of their stores though.

  • I'm not that near a Decathlon, but there are two SDs in Stratford. I'll definitely look out for the Karrimor tops. Hopefully it will be easy to find my size.

  • when I was starting out I got a couple of tech fabric running tops new off Ebay for <£10, regular sports shorts and for winter a pair of runing tights which were about £15 and a windproof running jacket from Lidl for about a tenner.

    Since then i have augmented this with a few more pairs of tights and shorts as and when I have seen them on offer/in sales etc, and you generally get a free tech t-shirt at every event your run so I have drawers overflowing with the things now.

    I would say the only essential thing is a wiicking base layer and something to cover your head in winter.

  • Would this sort of thing be good as a wicking base layer?

  • Yes, those look fine. Bargain !

  • Cool :)

  • I would add that for the winter a wind proof shell may be a key piece of equipment depending where you live. I was able to get by last winter down to -20 C with a good base layer and a coat that was only a shell - no fancy liners, no fancy fabrics.

  • Now I've slimmed down again I fit back into the lightweight ventilated raincoat I used to wear for cycling, I think this may work well for when it gets windy/rainy as it used to last me all winter on the bike.

  • TK MAXXis worth a rummage too. I got two lovely long sleeved merino base layers there for £10 each

  • merino is the shizzle

  • I'm doing this race in a few weeks £8 for entry INCLUDING a technical t shirt !

  • Tesco, ASDA and Sainsburys do fitness clothing too. My favourite running top came from Sainsbury's last year. If they haven't got their long sleeve stuff in yet, I reckon it'll be in any day now. It's dangerously easy to pick up a t-shirt with your groceries :)

  • All my stuff is karrimor from sports direct. I've got 2 x shorts, 1x Capri pants, 1x tshirt and 1x vest. All diff colours, I like to mix and match! All great and much less sweaty than when I just wore a cotton vest and shorts. I reckon I've spent around £50 all in. But I didn't get it all in one go. I think you should go in and have a look. They have a running section so you can't go wrong. It's fatal if I go in, always come out with something! It'll be long sleeve tops next for the winter.

  • I think I need to develop more of a SD habit, rather than keeping on putting off going there. I'm now realising you can get this stuff for a few quid at a time, which is def affordable. Good to know the tops made a difference re feeling sweaty etc. Will be making a visit in the next few days hopefully :)

  • A couple of mentions already about Primark and I certainly like the short sleeved shirt I purchased recently - close fitting, long enough, wicks well enough and has kept its shape. However have not seen any long sleeved ones in my local store yet. TK Maxx also has some glamorous branded sports wear which I have bought but I have found that it does not always stand up too well to lots of laundering and wear - it soon loses its "ping back" quality and the proportions of the garments seem awry sometimes. For me the best bottoms, by far, are my Karrimor 3/4 ones from Sports Direct - good fit, launder well and holding their shape far better than the TK Maxx stuff . The draw string in the waist is good for accommodating decreasing waistlines until we need a size smaller!

    Sorry to say I am lured by colour and style as well as price and have made a few wasteful purchases before settling on the Primark top and Karrimor bottoms combo.

    As for sports bra - personally I think they are wonderfully comfortable. I am more Twiggy than Marilyn Monroe and thought they would be an unnecessary purchase! How wrong I was. I read some rather startling research from the University of Portsmouth on the subject which caused me to rethink and gave me enough insight to choose a suitable style for my physique. Not all sports bras are the same and it may just need a bit more time to find what suits you best.

  • I think I may need to do more research re sports bras. I'm not quite twiggy but was also unsure whether I really needed one. Have been persevering with my lonsdale ones, but maybe need to look at a different style. Good to know the primark tops would perhaps be longer, I'll definitely look into that. Thanks :)

  • My primark one is cheap as chips and is still as good as new after many washes. I would go a size up from normal. Also got one from tkmax which is good. I only buy bargains!

  • Thanks for the advice about going up a size. Lots of votes for Primark! I'll check them out too then. Yay :)

  • I bought a good Karrimor top off amazon for pretty cheap, it can be a mission to find one in your size but there are bargains to be had! I don't know if they do deent tops but I got a really nice pair of capri leggings from Tesco that I run in :)

  • Wow who needs a personal shopper when you've got advice like this. Thanks so much for all the comments. Will be upgrading my kit with confidence now! :)

  • Lidl, Aldi, Tesco, SD are all fine for sports tops. As long as they are described a dri-fit or technical fabric they'll be good. The Lidl ones are v smart! I have a lovely couple of tops from Tesco too. SD and Start Fitness always have good bargains available. I got a really nice one from Start Fitness and it was only about fiver

  • I would probably go with Dri-fit. I haven't tried Karrimor myself, but my other half picked up a couple very cheaply from Sports Direct and they seem pretty good.

    Outlet stores for Nike, Adidas, Asics etc are also another idea. As an example, the Nike outlet in Gunwharf Keys (Portsmouth) now has a new set of discounted stock in store that seems to be the ranges that were selling full price on when I started running in January. I bought a couple of Nike Miler long sleeved tops in January and really love them. They are now half price in the Gunwharf store.

  • For Sports Bras, I haven't ever found anything as good as the Shockabsorber. I wear a 36HH in a normal bra but find I need the 40H Shockabsorber but it works really well - basically compresses and holds everything in place. Couldn't run without it.

  • I'm only a C cup at most, and find running bras just squeeze me down to nothing! Impressed you can run with HH, shockabsorber bras must be pretty good!

  • I keep finding myself in the nike outlet at west Bromwich, and there's an SD round the corner. But I seem to have a thing about under armour kit, all bought when on offer. UA never seems to shrink or go out of shape and it feel great.

  • I'll take a look at Under Armour stuff, thanks for the recommendation. There's a Nike shop near me too, but I've never been in there. They host a running group though, so maybe joining that would get me a discount...

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