This is the 21st century. We can make (nearly) zero waste clothes out of recycled soda bottles that a company spent more than my year’s salary designing. Why then would you resort to exercising in material reminiscent of the civil war?
I’m talking about wool, (one of) nature’s original wonder materials. Full disclosure: I <3 wool. If it weren’t for kitschy dress socks, my only socks would be made of wool. Oblige me a few moments to convince you of the merits of this glorious fabric.
(1) It’s warm. Running shoes are generally not very insulated (for good reason). When the temps drop, though, that can make for some cold toes! Wool socks are considerably warmer than their synthetic counterparts (assuming you don’t use cotton to run). I really appreciate the warmth of wool when I get cold AND damp feet. I opt for slightly thicker (not traditional hiking sock thick) socks for the cold months. Higher ankles also work well with tights so you don’t leave bare ankle skin to the elements. Beware though, wool seems to dry better ON your body than off, so think twice about laying out some damp socks to dry overnight. They may just as damp (or frozen) the next day.
(2) It’s wicking. Don’t be misguided by wool’s warmth. Wool is not only for cool weather. Thinner wool (socks and base layers) work very well in the heat, as well, due to the wicking properties. I’ve finished sweaty runs with socks I could ring out but dry feet. That generally means more comfortable and blister-free feet.
Wicking is important for the winter, as well. Beyond socks, wool base layers, neck gaiters, and hats keep your skin warm and dry despite any sweating.
(3) It’s sustainable. In a world that runs on petroleum, it’s refreshing to use a natural and sustainable product. Many manufacturers are transparent about the sourcing of their merino wool and participate in recycling programs.
(4) It’s soft. Scratchy wool is a thing of the past (mostly). Today’s merino blends are really nice.
(Bonus) It stinks less which has its benefits both during and after runs.
In summary, be like a sheep. This stuff works for them year round. If you haven’t already, give it a try. I think you will be happy and warm (or cool) and dry.