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Best running leggings for women: High waisted, pockets and more | London Evening Standard


Yes, we’re all living in leggings at the moment, but that doesn’t mean your old pair of Nike’s will see you through to race day.

Now that you’ve got your marathon place, it’s time to invest in a pair that won’t fall down half a mile into your daily plod. Choose right and your run will feel smoother, faster and much more comfortable.

From hardy Sweaty Betty styles that’ll see you through to October to muscle-protecting compression tights that’ll reduce the risk of injury, this is your running guide.


First, a style guide. Shorter women will rejoice that there are now plenty of options that are cropped enough to not bunch at the ankles.

If you’re under 5’5, look out for those labelled as 7/8s – the slightly shorter length is perfect for petite statures and even works for taller women, too – you’ll just be showing a little more ankle. There are also some high quality cropped styles, which usually come in just below the knee and are a real asset in warmer months when you’ll want to peel back the layers.


No longer just made from simple lycra, most of today’s running leggings offer some seriously high tech specifications in their material. Temperature regulating and sweat wicking properties seem to be the most common, although some also come with UPF protection to guard your skin against the sun.


Pockets are an absolute must if you’re heading out for a long run and need a place to stash your phone, keys or emergency cash. Though most claim to be big enough to hold a smart phone, it’s worth testing this out before you set off, as those without secure fastenings can be a little unreliable if you move at speed or are doing high impact training.

Whatever your style and preference, rest assured that each of these pairs stood up to a literal test run, making them all great options to consider.

Oysho Shapewear Leggings


Oysho remains one of the best kept secrets in sports and loungewear. Minimal designs, sleek silhouettes and neutral colours make them look and feel way more expensive than they actually are.

These Shapewear leggings tick all the boxes for running – made from compressive, sculpting fabric, they sit snugly against the skin and thanks to a large elastic waistband, don’t ride up or down – opt for the brand’s compressive styles which hug the muscles to protect them from injury.

The fabric feels velvety soft and with UPF 50+, 98 per cent of UV rays will be blocked out, making them a good choice for when the summer sun is beating down. Given their length, they work as a full length pair for petite women or as ankle grazers for women over 5’6.

lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tights


Though lululemon sits undeniably at the luxury end of the sportswear spectrum, it’s a brand that consistently delivers high quality products.

If you get stuck in a downpour, its latest incarnation of the hero Wunder Train Tights will dry impressively fast. The leggings also feature the brand’s highly-breathable, sweat-wicking Everlux technology and its fastest-drying fabric.

Material is silky soft and lightweight, yet sturdy and opaque. As with most Lulu leggings, it comes with two lengths to choose from: 7/8 and full length.

The best part? They’re thick and high-quality so you won’t flash the runner behind you when you stop to stretch.

Sweaty Betty Power Leggings

Sweaty Betty

If you’re going to invest in one pair of high-quality all-rounders, this is your pair. The Power leggings have been a firm favourite of the Sweaty Betty tribe for almost 20 years and this year they’re back with a brilliant 2021 spectrum of colours, jazzier prints and even harder working fabric.

They’re designed for the gym and all forms of sport but many runners say Power is their race day go-to thanks to the super-stretchy fabric, quick-drying material and flattering bum-sculpting seams.

There’s also a zip pocket at the back for keeping your keys, plus a side pocket on the left-hand leg – perfect for slipping your phone in when you need to go hands-free. The danger? They’re so comfy you’ll want to wear them all day long around the house.

2XU Motion Mid-Rise Compression Tights


Hunting out a good pair of compression leggings is a worthwhile investment if you’re prone to sore muscles, and 2XU does some of the best in the business. Their latest mid-rise compression tights, the Motion leggings, feature a wide power mesh comfort waistband for a body sculpting fit and graduated compression for improved circulation.

The best part? Unlike so many other leggings, they actually stay up while you’re running.

Tide + Seek Planet Friendly Leggings

Tide + Seek

Burn calories, not plastic bottles. These planet-friendly high-rise leggings are ethically handmade in Bali and developed using high-tech Repreve fabric, with each pair containing 25 recycled water bottles – the first in the British brand’s new line of activewear for 2021.

They’re quick-drying, super-stretchy and come in a jazzy range of prints, from leopard-print and tiger stripe to a rainforest-inspired tropical rave design to remind you of summer.

Invest now in time for Spring: built for everyday performance, the collection also incorporates UPF 50+ sun-protection and is chlorine, saltwater and sunscreen resistant for that summer staycation by the beach.

Adidas Own the Run Tights


The name of these leggings says it all, really. These are made to help you feel in control – of your pace, your stride and your temperature – as you run.

Of course, they can’t do the running for you but they can handle certain issues so that you don’t have to think about them – temperature control being one of them. Fitted with Adidas’ AEROREADY technology, they’ll regulate your temperature and wick away sweat – both of which will help you keep up the pace and remain focused.

Reflective strips make them easy to see in the dark and the drawstring waistband means you can adjust the fit to your shape and size.

For your valuables, there’s a phone-shaped pocket at the side and a zipped compartment at the back.

Nike Epic Luxe Run Division


Your winter comfort leggings. Nike’s latest premium running bottoms are designed for city runners looking for soft, sleek and breathable comfort on cold lunchtime jogs.

The brand’s highest-quality fabrics—a feature of our Luxe tights and leggings—combine with a lightweight, compressive feel, and there’s a mid-rise waistband for an ultra-flattering fit.

Easy-access pockets carry a key or card along for the journey.

Free People You’re A Peach Leggings

Free People

With a reflective trim running all the way down the seams both front and back, this is a great pair to invest in if you do a lot of night time running – particularly in areas without many street lamps.

A thick, elasticated band sits right on the waist, holding you in and supporting your back, lending added stability against the impact of each stride. One of the best things about this pair is the fabric – thick and sturdy, it feels hardwearing and is opaque enough not to show off your underwear in harsh light – just one less thing to worry about as you stride for that PB.

CW-X Women’s Stabilyx Tights

My Triathlon

Injury prone runners, pay attention: these CW-X tights offer the best compression of any on the list and are now available in this limited edition design.

The quad, hip and the IT band areas are all reinforced and whilst these won’t prevent injury, they’ll certainly help you get into the correct stride and posture.

Despite the tight fit, which can make them a little cumbersome to pull on, once in place these offer free range of motion and feel surprisingly free. Added bonuses include flat inseams to reduce the possibility of chafing on long distance runs.


As it’s not a hugely well known brand in the UK, you’re unlikely to bump into anyone wearing the same ones either, if that’s a concern for you. If you’re keen to splash out on a luxury pair, Sweaty Betty never fails to please and the new edition of its famous Power leggings are a joy to run around in (and lounge around in lockdown).


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