In 2011, I had my first real experience in the “influencer” world. I was selected from over 3,000 applicants via Women’s Health Magazine to be an Oakley Women’s Ambassador. I was intrigued. Then I was blown away. Then I learned an insane amount about the best sunglasses for running.
Don’t worry I promise not to pitch you nothing but Oakely, though if we’re being honest:
✅ these are the running sunglasses I wear and get asked about EVERY. SINGLE.DAY. on Instagram.
They not only have the sport features I need, but for me feel more flattering than a bulky wrap around pair. While those have some IMMENSE value, they just aren’t what I find a lot of female runners want on a daily basis.
- Why Sunglasses Matter for Running
- Are expensive sunglasses better
- Features to Look for in Running Sunglasses
- Best Sunglasses for Running
(Making funny faces at the camera since before iPhone selfies were a daily thing)
It turns out sunglasses aren’t just a great thing for holding back my hair, they TRULY impact your running.
Did you know wearing the wrong sunglasses could actually result in a bad run? (Here are a few other amusing running facts.) I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I spent a lot of years running without sunglasses because they bothered me or didn’t make me look just this cool.
Luckily as part of my Oakley ambassadorship I was able to tour their rolling O Lab for a truly eye opening experience.
If you, like me, have never purchased an expensive pair of sunglasses and can’t even fathom why you would need them PLEASE read this.
- Squinting creates stress
- Stress tells your brain you’re doing something hard
- Thinking that running is hard tells your brain it’s hard
- Eye strain leads to fatigue and headaches
- Lack of eye protection isn’t cool running on roads with things flying about
- UV exposure can lead to cataracts and other issues
- All that squinting adds to the lines around our eyes
I was amazed, awed and learned some really important lessons.
(Bonus because they semi-hide the fear when I tackle new races).
I’ll admit, I’m cheap.
This isn’t news, I’ve said it before when talking about everything from gear to food. I’ve also said that being cheap doesn’t meant, I’m not willing to pay for something that will LAST and WORK.
None the less, I didn’t understand why I needed to pay for something like Oakley’s. Then I spent a few hours learning that not all sunglasses are the same, watching demonstrations and a few days running in sunglasses that told me what I’d been mistaken.
BUT cheap doesn’t have to mean they aren’t great, as I’m now seeing with brands like Goodr (I personally can’t support a brand with their marketing). You just need to know what features really matter.
I don’t just mean, can you wear them a ton, I mean if you’re running along the sidewalk and a car flips a big chunk of concrete up which smashes in to your face will it protect your eyes?
Most fashion sunglasses are going to break instantly, meanwhile the higher quality sunglasses can sustain things like BB’s being shot at them, which we saw in action in this little booth from Oakley. Let’s hope that’s not the kind of thing you’re dodging on a run, but it’s something we don’t think enough about.
Each brand has their own way of showing you durability and if you can’t find that information anywhere on their site, it’s probably because they aren’t using materials designed for that. These better materials are often less likely to get scratches as well, which is so key for me as I toss them in hydration packs, etc.
This is the one that really GRABBED MY ATTENTION.
On the screen below is a clearly focused image…they then placed sunglasses in front of the lens to show how different glasses actually DISTORT the picture and make things blurry. This is due to the difference in quality materials and the curvature of sunglasses (i.e. light through a curved surface naturally wants to curve not move straight).
“there are two tests that speak to the clarity of optics: (1) Refractive power and Astigmatic power and (2) Prismatic power imbalance… layman’s terms they essentially measure the distortion of light passing through a lens; too much distortion and the lens fails the test. “
When this happens your brain needs to work a great deal harder to make sense of what it is seeing and try to get you back to clear.Let’s think about this. If my brain is working so hard to help my eyes out while I’m also asking it to focus on my muscles for a two hour run…yeah it just doesn’t work out well.
Your entire body is zapped of energy!
Knowing that the cheap glasses are effecting my performance is enough to convince me, but paired with everything else now I truly understand that paying more is actually about getting more, not just getting a name in this case.
Cheaper sunglasses often have a cheaper lens material which distorts vision or they warp over time.Are you running in cheap sunglasses? Find out how it could be impacting your runs and eye health! #runchat Click To Tweet
Honestly that single demonstration and thinking about how hard my brain is working convinced me that better sunglasses are now a requirement for my workouts. But UV protection is another huge one because I want my eyes to stay healthy and functional way in to my rip old running age. Higher quality sunglasses better protect you against all types of UV rays.
And if you are not wearing any sunglasses, let me remind you they protect against eye cancer, they protect that cute little skin around your eyes that you don’t want to be all wrinkly in the future and they provide general protection of course from things flying around while we run along the roads.
When it comes to your running sunglasses, do you need anything different than the everyday?
The biggest thing for me is no fog! Which honestly seems to come down to how they fit your face. The tighter the fit, the more likely they are to fog and that’s why I tend to wear the Oakley women’s sunglasses over the standard wrap arounds.
I’m putting this first because I think many of you are like me and don’t want to wear the traditional wrap arounds all the time. You’ll often see me in something that looks like a fashion sunglasses, but thanks to improvements in technology they’re all sport!! Checkout Goodr, the Oakley Frogskins or Oakley Women’s Game Changer if you want something that doesn’t look so traditionally sporty, but gives you all the key features.
Sounds obvious, but finding sunglasses that don’t bounce while your run or say stay put while you’re doing super awesome outdoor yoga is key. Checkout the placement of rubber on the nose and the ear pieces to ensure they’ll stay on and for us ladies, won’t rip out hair.
This means when you look at the water, the snow or the glare off of a passing car windshield you won’t go blind. It’s a great feature to have in those cases, but also means you’ll have trouble looking at your smart phone screen, so it may not be a feature you actually need all the time.Here I’m wearing the Oakley Radar Pace, which also includes in ear coaching and music.
Ever wondered why sunglasses have different tints? The good one’s do it to change your viewing experience and the cheap one’s do it as a party trick.
- Yellow is great for super cloudy days
- Pink/amber is great on trails where you move in and out of sun to see the ground clearly
- Gray is best for super bright days
Running on the trails, it’s amazing to have a light pink tint which makes it possible to see the trail clearly as you pass from light to shade over and over.
This has a little to do with how sunglasses hug your face and if you train in say swampy Florida. Many sunglasses come with a film that should help with this (look for it in features), but you can also spray them with anti-fog if you’re consistently having issues. Otherwise, checkout the options I noted above that don’t sit quite to tight to the face.
There you have it, all the reasons runners need to be wearing sunglasses and the features to look for when buying one’s that will truly protect your eyes.
If you’ve decided from the tips above that you need the perfect pair, but aren’t sold on the Frogskins, let’s look at a few other options:
- Oakley Flak – This is a more traditional sporty looking wrap around. The various tints can change your usage (i.e. the pink is great for trails where you pass in and out of shadow)
- Tifosi Savago Sunglasses – A much lower price point for a highly durable and cuter shade. However, I could not find testing to prove they don’t distort vision.
- ROKA Oslo High Performance – Also similar in style to the frogskins. Super light, with sticky points that will ensure they stay on even while you’re up and down to warm up.
- Bolle Bolt Sunglasses – If you train in the humidity, like I did, in Miami, then fogging up can be a big issue. These have a side ventilation that can help with that plus anti-fog on the lens.
- Rudy Project Rydon – Another sporty sunglasses style, but with a smaller frame. High quality, durable and thoroughly tested. Big fan of the anti-slip technology here too and the options for different lenses based on the type of running you do most.
Whether you want something that looks like a casual any day sunglass, but performs, or you want to go traditional sporty these are the best sunglasses for running based on all my research and testing!
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