What you wear and how you look have always been status symbols, and this has evolved over time. In the days of monarchy, you might have been seen as more opulent and wealthy if you were what we now consider morbidly obese. Today, the perception of clothing spans from cheap and functional to expensive and branded for "luxury" and status, and then to super expensive and plain-looking.

Unlike designer clothing or bespoke suits that have the wearer's name emblazoned rather than a brand, running clothing and products are still in their absolute infancy. Sure, there are large brands that feel like behemoths, but they're mostly in the space because of market availability and their already omnipresent placement in sports, not because of innovation. Right now, there isn't a whole lot of innovation, even if it sometimes feels like there is.

One of the most common questions I get is: which brand of running shoes should I go with, and which model? My real and honest answer is that although some shoes do indeed introduce new "technologies," the benefit to 99% of runners is imperceptible and therefore doesn't really matter.

So, if we consider this line of thinking about performance apparel, we'd likely conclude that while there's definitely a reason to buy an expensive sweater, jacket, or shorts, the reality is that the benefits are marginal. If the difference between fancy and normal is marginal, then we're left with the opportunity to talk about what you actually need: something to cover your lower torso, your shoes, and your body.

As a Canadian who grew up running in both snow and sunshine, I've learned that what we need to wear can often be summarized as: shorts in the warmer months, often with a cut-off at or above the knee for function, and a baggy, warm material pant for the cold months.

When it comes to what you wear on your upper torso, during the summer you can keep it minimal if the weather permits, like a sports bra for women or going shirtless for men. Alternatively, unisex choices include tank tops and thin sportswear shirts that wick away sweat – a normal shirt will also work though. And although they may become heavier and sweatier over time, the truth is that a little bit more moisture retention in a dry and warm climate will actually go a long way towards keeping you cool!

In terms of what to wear on the upper body during fall, I recommend a very light sweater that you can wrap around your waist when you overheat – the reason being that once you finish your run, you're less likely to get sick again if you cover up with a sweater!

Now let's say that you've decided to run in the winter, we're talking ice and snow and messy salty sidewalks. First of all, congrats! You're a badass for even considering it – the benefits of running in the cold are immense, and you're looking at healthier-looking skin and blood circulation so dense that you'll become a heater that won't need heating.

When it comes to what to wear, I recommend approaching this problem with a mindset rather than strict recommendations: if you plan to run in the winter, plan your clothing approach months prior. Rather than jumping right into the cold and getting sick by running in your winter coat, I want you to wear fewer layers in the fall so that you can gear up for the change in temperature and gradually adapt your circulatory system to the weather changes. By approaching what to wear in this way, you get the opportunity to face the winter head-on in a maximum combination of a thermal layer, long sleeve shirt, and a thick sweater. That's it. If you're up for it, I recommend not wearing gloves for as long as you can to better work up the blood flow in your hands.

Great, you know what to wear, but what about all the other running gear? If you're the kind of person to ask what kind of gear, just know that I really like you. Nowadays, we have so much technology it's almost crazy. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but just like fancy running gear, it can sometimes take away from what running is all about: running away from responsibility and problems – if they can't catch us, do they even exist?

The basics are your phone, keys, and a method of payment. I recommend keeping these on your person in a pocket or a runner's pouch. Although I am pretty picky and this is not something significant, I dissuade you from wearing a phone pouch on your arm or to keep things on only the right side or left side of your body. The reason that I don't think you should do so is because this dis-symmetry in weight, although small, can create tightness and overwork your stabilization muscles on the opposite side.

An example would be to keep your phone on your left arm. If your body is not used to running, it will accommodate this device through your posture, causing your right side to work harder to stabilize your posture. The solution is quite simple: keep the items either very close to the torso or near the hips – like pockets or a runner's pouch.

Imagine a child on a swing set. When the swing is at its highest point, the child feels a strong pull towards the ground. This is because the swing is acting like a pendulum, and the longer the chains of the swing, the stronger the pull the child feels at the end of each swing. Now, think about if the child was on a much smaller swing, one with much shorter chains. The pull they feel at the end of each swing is much less intense.

Now, let's apply this to running. If you're carrying items like a phone or keys on one side of your body, such as in an arm pouch, it's like you're the child on the long swing. This uneven weight distribution, although minor, can cause your body to compensate by overworking the stabilization muscles on the opposite side, similar to how the child feels a stronger pull on the long swing.

The solution is to be more like the child on the short swing. You can do this by keeping your items close to your center of gravity, which is near your torso or hips. This reduces the 'pull' and helps maintain a balanced posture while running. So, using pockets or a runner's pouch that sits close to your body can help maintain symmetry and reduce the risk of overworking one side of your body.

When it comes to gear, another inevitable question that will come to mind is whether you want to wear a smart watch – long story short, if you want it and believe that it is useful to you, then you can certainly do it! A smart watch is an incredibly intelligent move and can help you more purposely track your heart rate and other similar metrics – just be warned that the calorie tracking is rarely accurate when it comes to these devices, so take the values with a grain of salt. Recognize that when I say that the values can be off, I mean up to 40% or so.

Power metrics – the future of running trackers. First off, what is a power meter? It’s a little pod you can add to your shoe that lets you objectively know how much power in the form of wattage you output per step. This idea sounds pretty crazy, right? It originated from cycling where the power meter tends to be embedded in the pedal. The premise is quite cool, but is it useful? It can be. The theory goes that if you know how much power it takes you to complete a distance, you can easily estimate how much power it would take you to finish a different distance. It could keep you on track and be a proxy for everything from heart rate to exertion, and when it accounts for wind and incline, you can pace yourself considerably better by working to keep your power the same. If you have the money to spend, a power meter pod is an idea that can pay dividends for your training.

Other auxiliary clothing items include glasses and hats. For these, I recommend getting something that covers your neck and face with shade if you run in sunny environments, and to wear glasses that are ideally polarized but not super expensive and replaceable. If you’re running in the early mornings or evenings and are worried that a car will hit you, please wear either reflective materials like a reflective strap or an LED power light or two. These are relatively cheap and easy to acquire.

· Status Symbol Shift: Clothing has always been a status symbol, and its perception has evolved over time. In the running gear industry, despite the presence of big brands, innovation is somewhat lacking.

· Running Shoes: While some running shoes boast new "technologies," the benefits are often imperceptible to most runners. The brand or model of running shoes doesn't significantly impact the majority of runners.

· Running Apparel: The benefits of expensive running apparel are marginal. The essentials include something to cover your lower torso, shoes, and something to cover your upper body. The type of clothing depends on the weather and personal comfort.

· Running Gear: The basics are your phone, keys, and a method of payment. Keeping these items close to your center of gravity helps maintain a balanced posture while running.

· Smart Watches: A smart watch can be useful for tracking heart rate and other metrics but remember that calorie tracking is often inaccurate.

· Power Meters: Power meters, which measure the power output per step, can be a useful tool for pacing and training. They can be a worthwhile investment if you have the budget.

· Auxiliary Items: Glasses, hats, and reflective materials or LED lights for safety are also worth considering based on your running environment and time of day.

· Mindset: Planning your clothing approach months prior, especially for winter running, can help you gradually adapt to weather changes and prevent illness.