Ask the Expert: What Should I Wear to a 5K?

Getting ready to run your first (or fifth) 5K? Don't let an outfit get in your way.

Finally signing up for your first 5K can be intimidating enough, nevermind trying to figure out what to wear. We asked Lauren Blanda, apparel buyer at City Sports for some tips on dressing for a race. Blanda put together some looks (see below) so you can dress as good as you run.

Be comfortable: “The number one priority is to be comfortable. Think about the weather and your most comfortable fitting running gear from head to toe. The less you’re thinking about what you’re wearing, the more you can focus on your race! For summer races, you want to beat the heat by choosing sweat-wicking, lightweight fabrics,” Blanda says.

Don’t underestimate the small stuff. “[Make sure to have] a supportive sports bra for gals and supportive compression short for guys, and moisture wicking socks for everyone. Blisters are completely avoidable with the right socks and properly fitting footwear,” Blanda says.

Be colorful: “Gone are the days of plain white tees and white shoes,” she says. “Everyone is wearing colorful running outfits now,  especially on race day. After all the training, you should have fun with it!”

Protect yourself: “UV protection, running caps, performance sunglasses, and sunscreen are all something that should be top of mind on race day,” Blanda says.

Blanda’s men’s look:

Photos and styling for all images by Lauren Blanda at City Sports.

Photos and styling for all images by Lauren Blanda at City Sports.

Look for a lightweight fabric in a shirt that wicks moisture. “The shirt [pictured] is the Adidas Supernova tee in orange, and the back is a cool burnout mesh so it vents really well. It’s also a great color so if you your friends can spot you easily,” Blanda says.

For shorts, City Sports’ top selling inseam length is seven inches, which should hit most guys a few inches above the knee. “In shorts you want freedom of movement and pockets. The Nike seven inch stretch woven 2-in-1 shorts [pictured] are my favorite,” Blanda says. “The stretch woven shell is very lightweight, there are secure pockets, and it has a built in compression short liner, which helps keep everything in place and minimizes chaffing.” If you’re looking for shorts without a liner, Blanda recommends Under Armour compression shorts for a cool fabric and secure fit, and then put stretch woven shorts over them. 

One of the most important parts to dressing for a 5K is socks. They should fit like a glove, hugging the heel and arch in the right places, and fit anatomically on both feet, Blanda says.

A running cap will also help in keeping you cool and the sweat out of your eyes. “The Nike DriFit cap [pictured] is light and gives you enough protection to shield your face from the sun on a bright day,” Blanda says.

Women’s look (1):

“For women, a proper sports bra is key,” Blanda says. “One of our top sellers is Moving Comfort’s ReBound Racer [pictured]. It’s highly adjustable, secure fitting, and has nice colors and shape.”

Racerback tank tops give your arms and upper body great freedom of movement and excellent ventilation, Blanda says, so she recommends the Moving Comfort Endurance tank (pictured) which is made from fabric that feels like cotton but is moisture wicking and breathable. It also has a hidden pull tie on the bottom and is a longer length.  

“These CS by City Sports Core Run shorts are my favorite item from the line this season. They are a fitted short, in our ‘core’ fabric that has great coverage but is also very lightweight,” Blanda says. “They are fitted so they won’t ride up anywhere and you can be 100 percent comfortable during your race. They also have a back zippered pocket for whatever you need to stash with you on race day and a cute reflective trim when your training in low-light hours.”

Dual layered socks to prevent blisters from Wrightsock and a glittery or printed headband from Sweatybands (which have a felt backing so they stay put) complete the look.

Women’s Look (2):


For someone looking for a little more coverage, this second look has a looser fitting short and more coverage on top. Blanda recommends the Nike Miler SS tee (pictured), which is a lightweight top available in a ton of bright, fun colors. It also offers sun protection and has an athletic fit.

“These New Balance shorts [women’s Momentum shorts, pictured] are so fun and I love the print because you can pair with a lot of different colors and create a lot of looks,” Blanda says. “It’s also made of a super light, stretch woven fabric and has a built in mesh brief, along with a zippered pocket.”