How to Design Custom Running Shirts

Design Custom Running Shirts for your Event

Whether it’s a company outing, extracurricular activity, or fundraiser, your running event could use some high-quality custom t-shirts. But how do you design custom running shirts? Is it as simple as applying your logo to any t-shirt?

The graphics are an important part of designing custom running shirts, but there are also other factors to consider. It’s not complicated though, you just need to understand some key aspects of athletic shirts before getting started!

We have prepared a few tips that will help you design custom running shirts for your event that not only look good, but also work.

What material should my custom running shirts be made out of?

When designing your custom running shirts, one of the first things you should consider are the material you want the shirt itself to be made of.

For this, you can usually go with two options: synthetic fibers (usually polyester) and natural fibers (usually cotton). These two popular fabrics do not perform or feel the same, so you’ll want to understand their key differences before making a decision.



When it comes to athletic clothing, synthetic materials like polyester are king. Choosing a polyester shirt for your custom design will help ensure your event participants stay as cool and comfortable as possible.

Polyester clothes achieve this by pulling moisture away from the surface of the skin, allowing it to evaporate more rapidly. This results in a dry, breathable shirt that also feels comfortable against skin, at least more so than a damp cotton shirt.

If you or your organization are concerned about the environmental impact of polyester clothing (polyester is plastic), you may want to consider shirts that are made from 100% recycled plastic.

Recycled polyester fabric usually does not feel or perform any different from “virgin” polyester, so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing product quality for a reduced environmental impact.



Many people like cotton garments for their breathability, but that advantage does not hold true during athletic activities. While cotton is certainly more breathable than synthetic fabrics during day-to-day activities, it’s simply not the best for running.

While polyester wicks moisture away from your skin and allows it to evaporate rapidly, cotton simply absorbs that moisture. This leads to a heavy shirt that is also more likely to cause chafing — ouch!

However, if you want to avoid synthetic fibers, you might be able to run short distances in cotton. Just make sure temperatures are mild and the event isn’t too long — once cotton shirts are moist, they can become uncomfortable quickly.

Does the fit matter?

Unisex designs

While you can absolutely order two different designs — one for men and one for women — you might also want to consider a “one design fits all” approach.

Ordering multiple styles can be more expensive because of the lower volume of each style, while unisex solution may help you achieve a better price by placing one large bulk order.

But what designs look good on both men and women? Here are a couple of things you can look for:

  • Nylon: Clothes that contain nylon are typically stretchier and more form fitting. This will lead to more comfortable fits on different body shapes.
  • Tank tops: One of the key differences between men’s and women’s tops are the sleeves. If the weather allows for it, remove sleeves from the equation and order tank tops!

Order a variety of sizes

People come in all shapes and sizes — luckily, so do t-shirts! Make sure no one at your running event feels excluded by keeping a variety of shirt sizes on hand. If your event is kid-friendly, make sure to pack some extra small sizes too!

How do I make my custom running shirt design look good?

Now that you know what type of shirt you want, it’s time for the fun part — coming up with the design!

If you have enough time, you can always hire a professional outsider to create your design. The quality and pricing will differ greatly from artist to artist, so shop around until you find one that’s right for you. Alternatively, you can always do it yourself.

Designing a custom t-shirt on your own can be intimidating, but don’t fret! Even if you don’t have much design experience, you can still create beautiful t-shirts by following a few principles.

Apply color theory

At some point in school, you may have learned about color theory. If you’re thinking of the color wheels, that’s exactly what it is!

Color theory helps us understand what colors go well together and which ones don’t. Examples of these ideal combinations could include two complimentary colors, three triadic colors, different shades of the same color, and more.

It may sound complicated, but it’s actually quite simple! We’ve even written a quick guide on how to select the best colors for your custom designs.

Applying color theory to your design instead of using random combinations is an effective way to make sure your final product looks balanced and natural.

Use a unique design

Your custom running t-shirts should be recognizable by everyone at the event and outside of the event. There is no better way to guarantee that than to use a unique design.

Whether you are using an existing company logo, a club logo, or creating something new specifically for the event, a clean and unique design will do wonders for your t-shirt.

This design doesn’t have to be too complex. As a matter of fact, it’s probably better if it’s not. You just want to shoot for something that is easy to recognize and makes people proud to wear your t-shirt.

Don’t forget to leave room for sponsors

Considering the costs of organizing a running event, you might be considering sponsors. And what better way to attract sponsors than to offer them a spot on the event t-shirt?

Sponsors will appreciate the opportunity to place their logo on the event t-shirt because they know many people will continue wearing your custom t-shirts well beyond the event’s date.

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