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The runner's guide to sunglasses

Running in sunglasses isn't just a fashion statement; it's a practical choice with benefits that extend way beyond looking cool.

Picture this: You're lacing up your running shoes, and the sun is blazing overhead, promising a challenging workout. As you gear up for your daily run, you might wonder, should I slip on a pair of sunglasses? After all, running in sunglasses isn't just a fashion statement; it's a practical choice with benefits that extend way beyond looking cool.

Should sunglasses be a part of your running outfit, next to the running shoes, running watch, water bottle and headphones? If so, what do you need to consider before diving in and buying a pair? Here is what you need to go the distance in the sunshine.

Why run in sunglasses?

First, why would you run in sunglasses? Obviously, there’s the reason everyone wears them – sun protection. If it’s a bright day, it is easy to be dazzled by the sun, and that can cause severe issues. Imagine turning a corner and being dazzled, not seeing a street sign, pedestrian, or a car. It could lead to a disaster.

You should also be aware of the damage sunshine can do to your eyes. Harmful UV rays can cause a range of issues, including corneal damage, cataracts and macular degeneration. These are all plausible effects of UV exposure that can ultimately lead to decreased vision.

Running in sunglasses can even enhance your overall performance. By reducing eye strain caused by bright sunlight, you can maintain better concentration and stay more alert during your run. Improved visibility and reduced glare contribute to a smoother and more enjoyable experience.

What to look for in running sunglasses

The primary reason for donning sunglasses while running is to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays. You should look for sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection, safeguarding your eyes from UVA and UVB rays — this should be outlined at the point of sale. This prevents long-term damage to your eyes and reduces glare, allowing you to focus on the road ahead.

You should think about fit as well. The last thing you want during a run is your sunglasses slipping down your nose or bouncing around on your face. Opt for frames that provide a snug fit without being too tight. Many sport-specific sunglasses come with features like rubberized nose pads and temple grips, ensuring a secure fit even during the most intense sprints.

Remember, running can work up a serious sweat, and sunglasses that fog up are a definite no-go. That’s why you can’t just buy off the rack – you need to look for sunglasses with adequate ventilation to prevent fogging. Some models come with anti-fog coatings or vented lenses, ensuring clear vision throughout your entire run.

Different lens tints can also serve various purposes. Amber or brown lenses enhance contrast and are great for trail running, while gray lenses are versatile and suitable for various light conditions. Photochromic lenses are a smart choice, adapting to changing light conditions during your run. These often go by the name of transition lenses and darken depending on the conditions. They’re favored by people who need prescription glasses to correct vision but who also want sunglasses for outdoor runs.

The primary reason for donning sunglasses while running is to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays.

Which models fit the bill?

Many models are suitable for running, and each runner will have his or her own preference. Far from recommending pairs, it is better to suggest some models that are worth investigating with their USP.

Eyebuydirect is a supplier worth considering, as they have a wide range of sunglasses at every price point. Their black Cortez model features a lightweight acetate frame, ensuring they're damage-resistant, and an anti-scratch lens coating that runners should opt for in their eyewear. Its default lenses come with a brown tint, which is great for improving visual acuity on overcast days, but the Cortez frames can be personalized with your prescriptions or polarized coatings to reduce glare from the sun. Whether prescription or not, the short lenses ensure a secure fit across the eyes and face, meaning the sunglasses remain in place for the duration of the run, even climbing and trail running.

Oakley is a favorite brand among athletes and they, too, offer prescription lenses in their sports sunglasses. The Oakley Radar EV Path combines a lightweight design with its renowned Prizm lens technology, which enhances color and detail. The wide field of vision and superior optics make these a top choice for runners seeking uncompromised performance. Despite these being one-piece lenses, those needing corrective prescription lenses can have them fitted.

Nike's foray into the running sunglasses arena in 2016 resulted in the Vaporwing Elite, a sleek and aerodynamic model designed for speed. They are also a one-piece lens but boast ventilation features that cater to runners pushing their limits. Be aware that these are more expensive than the Oakley and Ray-Ban models, with prices of upward of $350 for the latest models.

Finally, Smith's PivLock Arena Max sunglasses are considerably cheaper, and an amateur runner may be able to grab a pair for around $50. They are known for their interchangeable lenses, allowing runners to adapt to various light conditions. The frameless design provides an unobstructed view, and the hydrophilic nose pads keep them securely in place, even when the sweat is pouring.


Thanks for reading our runners' guide to sunglasses!


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