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All runners will admit that their gear is almost as important as where they run. Whether it is a new pair of Hoka running shoes, a water bottle, or even Air Pods for keeping out the background noise, a runner’s gear can help shave seconds off a time.

Sunglasses are often overlooked equipment that can significantly impact a runner’s experience. While many may associate sunglasses purely with style, they play a vital role in keeping a runner safe. They perform several functions for a runner, which we’ll explore here before suggesting some pairs that might be just what you’re looking for.

Why Runners Need Sunglasses

The primary reason runners should invest in quality sunglasses is to shield their eyes from the sun’s UV rays. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can lead to various eye issues, including cataracts and macular degeneration. Runners often spend extended periods outdoors, making them susceptible to these risks.

Runners frequently encounter reflective surfaces, whether out on a morning jog by the river or from passing cars as they pound the city streets. Glare from these surfaces can be distracting and hazardous, affecting visibility and increasing the risk of accidents. Good running sunglasses should be equipped with polarized lenses, which are particularly effective in reducing glare. This ensures runners are provided with a clear view of their path and reduces the strain on their eyes.

Running for extended periods also exposes the eyes to various elements like wind, dust, and debris. These factors can cause discomfort and eye fatigue, affecting a runner’s focus and performance. Sunglasses act as a barrier against these elements, keeping the eyes comfortable and reducing the likelihood of irritation. Additionally, some specialised running sunglasses come with additional features like anti-fog coatings and changeable lenses, helping to maximise performance.

Which glasses are the best? There’s no definitive answer to that – every runner will have different requirements. However, these three pairs are certainly great for runners of all abilities looking for general protection.

Oakley RadarLock

 

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We start with a brand that has been synonymous with sports for many years – the first Oakley products were tailored for motocross. Now, they partner with the NFL and a range of other sports, but they also find time to create good products for runners. Oakley sunglasses are hugely popular with runners, none more so than the Oakley RadarLock model. These high-performance sunglasses feature Oakley’s patented Prizm lens technology, which enhances colour and contrast, providing a more vivid and detailed view of the surrounding environment. Those lenses can also be changed, which means you can adjust your glasses depending on conditions.

The RadarLock’s lightweight and durable frame ensures comfort during long runs, and the Unobtainium nose pads and ear socks keep the glasses securely in place, even in sweaty conditions. Given the company’s long history of making glasses for sports, the Oakley RadarLock are a versatile and reliable choice for all types of runner.

Nike Vaporwing Elite

Nike is another brand synonymous with athletic excellence, although their forte might be seen as shoes and other clothing, given they sponsor sports stars like Kylian Mbappe and Rafa Nadal. That said, the Vaporwing Elite sunglasses are designed specifically for runners, making them a solid choice for amateurs and pros alike. They’re certainly not at the budget end of the scale, but they must be s serious option for a fully-flegded runner.

These sunglasses boast a futuristic, aerodynamic design that minimises drag and provides a secure fit. The one-piece lens construction enhances peripheral vision, which is crucial for maintaining awareness of the surroundings during runs. The Vaporwing Elite also features ventilated nose bridges to combat fogging, and the lightweight frame ensures comfort over long distances.

Smith Attack Max

 

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Smith Optics is known for innovation in eyewear, and that’s wholly evident in their Attack Max sunglasses, tailored for runners seeking a combination of performance and style. The ChromaPop lens technology enhances clarity and natural colour, allowing runners to distinguish details on the road or trail effortlessly.

There is a two-position nose pad and slide-on temple tips that enable a customisable fit, ensuring the sunglasses stay in place during dynamic movements. With a minimalistic design and anti-slip features, the Smith Attack Max strikes a balance between functionality and aesthetics for the discerning runner.