Finding a decent pair of sunglasses for running

My eyes! My eyes!

Ok – that was a bit dramatic, but there’s no doubt that running outdoors requires a seriously trustworthy pair of shades. Sunglasses, I came to learn unfortunately late, can mean the difference between a pounding squinting-induced headache and a nice, smooth sunny run.

When I began running longer distances outdoors, I was skeptic of wearing sunglasses. I thought they’d simply be an annoyance. I’d have to be constantly pushing them up; they’d get in the way of my headphones; they’d fall off; they’d bounce up and down once sweat loosened the nose piece; or, again, would just decrease the “sexy runner” look. (Really?!)

Boy was I wrong. It took me winning a pair at work to realize how AMAZEEE Oakleys are. I got my first pair, grey and black Oakley Half Jackets, and I was sold.

Oakleys then

They fit amazingly. Super snug, super light weight, and comfortable (they only touch your face in 2 spots — nose and above the ear.) I rain in them for years and years, treating them like a diamond ring, constantly cleaning and petting them. I learned the hard way when to know not to take your *nice running glasses to a race when I lost them at this year’s Warrior Dash. DEVASTATED, I was. I think I literally kicked myself. I got the best text message this week (on my birthday, actually) of my parents telling me they found them (finally) at their house. We went back there after the race due to the fact that they live significantly close(r) to the race. SA-WEET! So now they’re back in my loving arms and we can continue our running affair. Unfortunately, I just gave away the romantic ending to a story that goes something like “I went through 2 more pairs of glasses (including a pair of newly purchased Oakleys) before getting these back.”

Cut to pair 2….Sports Authority-bought Ironman Strong POLs. Or should I say POSs? BLEK. Perhaps I was jaded by my first pair of Oakleys, but for me to think that these would be a suitable replacement was wrong on so many levels. Also perhaps my “cheaper-but-equally-cool” approach was also wrong on so many levels. The frames are cheap-feeling. The lenses apparently pick up smudges without you even touching them! (What?!) And they do NOT fit comfortably.

I also learned a very important lesson that while trail running (and I may even advise this while path running), one should not wear fully rimmed, tinted sunglasses. I give all of the blame to my graceless fall on the Medlock Bridge Chattahoochee River Trail to not being able to see the gigantic tree limb I tripped and tumbled over. Also victim to that fall was my favorite pair of running capris. So many reasons to hate you, Ironman sunglasses!

Enter, pair 3. So after failing to find my “lost” Oakleys, I guilted myself into spending the money to get a similar pair. And they were fine. I ran a couple of races in them. They were comfortable, lightweight, perfectly tinted. They just weren’t my first pair. We had bonded, those glasses and me. So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard they had been found. I suppose I’ll still keep these guys, though.. Based on my track record, I’ll need them soon.

I hope you’ve experienced an easier path to finding the ideal pair of running sunglasses. I’m sure that there are a bazillion more great brands/fits out there. If you’ve got a good one, please make sure to leave a comment below for the rest of us runners! If you don’t already have the ideal pair, I thought I’d leave you a little checklist similar to the one I had for your use while you hunt!

  • Comfortability — doesn’t scrunch my face anywhere
  • Nose fit — doesn’t slide down my gigantic snoz or move when I squint
  • Frame feel — frame is lightweight and sturdy, doesn’t feel plastic-y
  • Lens — a dark, mirrored lens. Didn’t have to be polarized for me, but definitely wanted to deflect the sunshine
  • Shape — would be complementary to my long face shape
  • Quality — would last me a decent amount of time
  • Last but not least, price — isn’t crazily priced, but is also priced as to tell me it’s well-made (these Oakleys were about $100 each)

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