This $10 Running Gaiter Is the Only Thing I Can Comfortably Run In

Take it from someone who has asthma and is training for their first half marathon.

Summer Neck Gaiter Face Cover Mask
Photo: Amazon

If, earlier this year, someone were to tell me that I'd be training for my first half marathon during a global pandemic that would require me to wear a mask outside (in the summer, of course!), I would have told that person they've been watching too many apocalyptic thrillers. But here we are—month four? five? of the coronavirus pandemic—and here I am, running the longest distances I've ever run while wearing a face mask.

Obviously, now is not the most ideal time to decide on training for a half marathon. They've basically all been canceled for safety reasons. But a few weeks into quarantine I realized that I needed a goal to keep myself sane. I was feeling really sad, lethargic, and unmotivated. Not to mention, I was away from friends with nothing to do but watch TikTok videos and play with my cats (which isn't a bad combination by any means, but didn't have me feeling very productive). So I decided to train for my first (fake) half marathon—aka a solo run of 13.1 consecutive miles I'd complete before September. (

When I first started my training—and I say training loosely because I really just add 0.5 miles to my long Saturday runs and do whatever distance I want, whatever day(s) I want on weekdays—I was at home with my mom on a secluded Virginia mountain. I could safely run outside because nobody was around but deer, and the only people I'd pass would be in their cars. But when I started planning my return back to New York City, I knew that to keep myself and others safe in this highly populated area, I'd need to start masking up.

I did some research and tested out a few different face coverings. First, I tried a medical-grade three-ply face mask. It was wet with sweat and dropped down to my chin within the first three miles of my test run. Up next was a fabric face mask; I swear to you not even my favorite pair of wool socks could make me as hot as that mask did while I was running. Finally, I tried out a mesh gaiter-style face covering that I noticed climbing the best-sellers chart on Amazon. That one was and continues to be a winner. (

Summer Neck Gaiter Face Cover Mask
Amazon

Buy It: Summer Neck Gaiter Face Cover Mask, $10, amazon.com

My favorite running gaiter is made with 100 percent polyester, so it's super soft and non-irritating. Instead of feeling like I'm running through a swamp of thick air while wearing it, it's surprisingly light, very easy to breathe in, and I usually get used to wearing it within a few minutes of starting my run. (

The running gaiter is really optimal to use during long runs because it stays in place and if there's ever a point in the run where I'm alone for a few miles, I can easily drop the covering down and safely breathe in some fresh air. It also provides some extra protection for my skin, since it has built-in UPF 30+ sun protection. Even better, I've yet to experience a scary surge of "maskne" after use. Maybe it's luck, but I think it's the covering's moisture-wicking and quick-dry material that keeps me from breaking out.

Might I add that, along with being a beginner training for her first half marathon during a pandemic, I'm also an asthmatic beginning training for her first half marathon during a pandemic in the summer. (My mom always tells me I tend to make things difficult and I'm starting to believe her.) I'm sure to pay close attention to my breathing patterns and do everything I can to treat my lungs well, and this mask really allows me to respect my body while also respecting any other bodies around me.

I've been using this running gaiter regularly for about two months, and I've already been back to Amazon to buy three more. This mask comes in packs of one, two, or three, and the bigger pack you buy, the more money you'll save. Owning more than one means I use the washing machine less and can color coordinate outfits if I feel so inclined (it's the little things nowadays, ya know?).

During my long runs, when I'm struggling to keep the pace, I feel good knowing that I'm wearing something that won't inhibit my breathing. I just think to myself about how I'm defying odds, protecting myself, and protecting others—and then continue on running. And in just a few weeks I'm excited to do my first 13.1 miler—face covering and all.

Below, you can shop the breathable running gaiter sets that I rely on for long runs.

Summer Neck Gaiter Face Cover Mask
Amazon

Buy It: Summer Neck Gaiter Face Cover Mask, $16 for 2, amazon.com

Summer Neck Gaiter Face Cover Mask
Amazon

Buy It: Summer Neck Gaiter Face Cover Mask, $20 for 3, amazon.com

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