If you are a seasoned runner or triathlete, you will almost certainly already know the distinct advantages of wearing running socks, rather than sticking with your everyday cotton ones. Most people will use cotton when they start out jogging, but as they become fitter, and the runs start to get longer, that’s when the pain can kick in.
What do the best running socks offer that cotton ones just cannot deliver? Firstly, for any kind of medium to long distance running, you want to be comfortable, and if you are going to stay the distance, it’s your feet that need the extra comfort. So proper running socks, like those made by Thorlo or any of the running shoe manufacturers such as Asics or Nike, will be thicker and yet lightweight, with padded areas at the heel and ball of the foot. They will also be made from synthetic, moisture wicking fabrics, to vastly reduce dampness and assist rapid evaporation of sweat.
Thicker, padded socks can have a beneficial effect when you are running on uneven trails, and work in unison with your running shoes to absorb shocks and take care of your joints. As for moisture, if you simply kept your cotton socks this would eventually lead to irritation, calluses and blisters, especially as cotton tends to become more abrasive when it’s wet.
If you want to look after the environment even when you’re running, then there are several options to buy running socks that are made from renewable materials such as wool, which has superior moisture controlling capabilities as well as being naturally anti-microbial. The more traditional sock for runners is made from synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester and Lycra, and others with patented cooling and moisture wicking properties.
Apart from the padded areas to protect specific parts of your feet, the best running socks are ergonomically shaped for each foot. They are designed never to twist during a run, or to slip down your heel into the shoe. They are a real godsend for serious athletes, letting you concentrate on the competition or your training, rather than whether you are going to end up covered in blisters and in severe discomfort.
To reduce painful friction and to enhance the fit of your running shoes, you can find dozens of brands of running sock either in online stores or at your local running supplies retailer. A long standing favorite of committed athletes are the Thorlo running socks. These are extremely comfortable and although not entirely indestructible, they do last a very long time, and are a quality sock. Asics, Brooks and Nike also sell a wide range of runner specific socks which will help you to optimize your jogging by keeping your feet cool and fresh. And there are many more brands to choose from, including Drymax, Teko, Eurosock and Ironman socks. The best idea is to purchase a few different pairs from different manufacturers and critically test them for a month or so. You’ll probably find that one brand shines like a beacon for you, and that’ll be the one you should stick with.
It is also worth deciding, after a little experimentation, which general type you prefer. Many runners like the super short ones which hide away inside their shoes – the “no show” type. Other people like the quarter socks, which come up to the ankles. There are also compression socks, knee high socks, mens running socks and womens running socks – pretty much everything you can imagine, for specific aspects of running. Only you will know exactly what you need, but it is a certainty that it’ll be available out there to buy somewhere. A really great place to shop for all things running sock related is Sock Geek, which can provide brands and types you probably won’t be able to find in your local stores.