Next to running shoes, good pair of sunglasses is arguably the most important piece of equipment for a successful run. Most of us are aware of the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays on our skin, but UV rays are just as, if not more, harmful to our eyes. Overexposure can cause eyestrain, lead to certain kinds of cancer, and has been linked with macular degeneration.
Runners need protection from the elements. They spend a lot more time outside exposed to them than the average person. Proper running sunglasses will protect your eyes from dust and dirt. Many lenses are even equipped with special coatings that can prevent oil and sweat from your skin from clouding your vision. Others include anti-fog properties. The right sunglasses will also reduce glare, and not just from the sun overhead. If you run on the beach, the glare from the sand and water can be irritating - even pavement reflects light a lot more than you may think.
Running sunglasses should fit so well that you completely forget you have them on while you are training. The last thing you need when you're 'in the zone' is sweat causing your glasses to slide down your nose. Many specialized running sunglasses have grips on the bridge and temples that become tackier as you sweat, keeping them in place.
While fit is essential, you should also be looking for glasses that are made from lightweight materials, and probably looking for shatter-proof and scratch resistant lenses. Polycarbonate is a great option. Also consider what coatings and/or tints would work best for you. Polarized and mirrored coatings are great for reducing glare, especially if you run near the water. Also think about what time of day (and what the light levels are) when and where you normally run. Brown, grey, and green lenses are good for normal to bright conditions. But if you often run at dawn, dusk, or in the shade, you could consider amber or red tints.
You can get great recommendations for the best models of running sunglasses from popular running resources in print and online. FramesDirect.com carries the most popular and road-tested of the bunch. Here are some of the styles that are commonly endorsed by experts and most popular with serious runners who really pack on the mileage:
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