What Sheep Taught Us About Running in Merino Socks

Running Lessons from Merino Sheep Infographic

Don’t sleep on sheep, especially Merino sheep. From the fleece that provides our Merino Wool to the extremes they thrive in, these animals themselves are an inspiration. They’ve been running around some of the most rugged places on the planet, in some of the most unforgiving weather conditions, for thousands of years. As runners and sock makers, we could all learn a thing or two from these cloven-hooved sprinters.

Wait, Sheep Actually Run?

Sheep may get a bad rap for “following the flock,” but this behavior is actually a shrewd adaptation to keep the group safe from predators in the wild. Add eyes that take in nearly 360 degrees and a sharp spatial sense, and you get the ability to multitask: grazing while monitoring the movement of the flock and watching out for threats. And when the time comes, you bet sheep can run.

Man running down road, two sheep running with him

Just how fast is something the police in Northern Germany discovered firsthand when they were called in to catch a sheep that’d escaped its pasture. Winding roads and an animal that was clocking upwards of 28 mph didn’t make the job easy. It’s not a spoiler alert to add that at one point the rouge sheep jumped over the hood of the police car, seeking, ahem, greener pastures.

An inspiration to runners and parkour athletes alike, sheep don’t stop running when the weather’s perfect. They do it regardless of how hot, cold, or wet it is out. Safe to bet that wool must be pretty great at managing heat, chills, and moisture on the move. 

Dang, Your Feet Stay Really Dry

Think of pretty much any environment, at nearly any time in history, and you’ll find sheep— shredding rocky high alpine slopes in blowing snow, and grazing, unfazed by dreary rains or baking sun.

Person running in merino wool socks in snowy, wet weather

No fair-weather excuses to be found here. Sheep evolved a fleece structure robust enough to shed water, while trapping heat to stay warm. Merino Wool makes for ideal running socks because it’s naturally moisture wicking.

Drawing moisture away from your skin keeps your feet dry, preventing dreaded blisters while you’re out for your daily run. Staying dry is also a crucial element to staying warm, something any cold-weather runner of any caliber can appreciate.

Sheep Lesson #1: Do you really need that “rain day” alibi to stay on the couch instead of run?

Whoa, They Naturally Regulate Temperature? What?!

Speaking of warmth, it might seem like those sheep could overheat under that thick coat of natural fleece wool. But let’s consider the fact that these incredibly adaptable animals show up literally everywhere— not just temperate and damp place like New Zealand, but totally arid deserts.

Some fluffy sheep hanging out in a field in New Zealand

What’s the secret? It sounds kind of uncool, but trust us, it’s going to actually keep you cool when things heat up. The magic here is Merino Wool’s ability to thermoregulate — in other words, balance the temperature between your skin and the air outside. Merino does this by selectively absorbing and releasing moisture at the right time, keeping you warm in cool weather, or cooling you down when things heat up.

Did sheep come up with nature’s own thermostat? Yep.

Sheep Lesson #2: You don’t need to sweat running in wool when the going gets hot.

So Soft and Nice

Close up of feet wearing super comfy merino wool running socks

It might seem a little odd that the fleece covering that German high speed pasture escape artist is prized for its luxurious softness. But like a bank robber showing up in a velour track suit, Merino Wool gets its business done while nodding to the comfort needed to balance out life’s more intense pursuits.

Merino’s ultrafine fiber diameter has a natural crimp, or bend, in its structure, allowing it to drape and move easily, an essential quality to Darn Tough’s next-to-skin-fit. Merino’s ultra-smooth feel is something anyone can enjoy, and it definitely comes into play when you’re lacing up your shoes for speed and distance.

Woman running full speed wearing pink running socks

Whether you’re outrunning last week’s pace, or training in pursuit of a marathon-level goal, you can count on Merino’s softness to play nice mile after mile, hour after hour.

Sheep Lesson #3: There’s no need to sacrifice comfort while training hard.

Resists Odor, and Maybe You Needed to Hear That

One of the best parts about wool is its ability to go further. Not just in terms of how long the socks last, but how long you can wear them for.

Socks made primarily from synthetic and cotton materials pick up foot funk like chewing gum stuck to your favorite pair of running shoes. Merino Wool on the other hand (or foot?) has a chemical structure that actively repels sweat and bacteria build up, letting you wear them for run after run without odors creeping up and offending.

Sheep Lesson #4: Go ahead, wear the same pair of running socks for multiple outings— most likely your roommates and family won’t notice how many times you wore them before washing.

Evolved for Life on the Hoof, Perfect for Runners on the Move

Sheep are the ideal test case for developing a natural fiber designed for life on the move. Sheep have been roaming, running, and grazing for thousands of years, always comfortable wherever the next patch of grass is, rain or shine.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a fair-weather jogger or a mileage-or-bust runner. Anyone who laces up and puts one foot in front of the other can benefit from nature’s contribution to staying dry, regulating temperature, and feeling and smelling fresh on the move. And if you need some help choosing the right wool running sock for you, we've got you covered. 

Shop Darn Tough Men's Running Socks and Women's Running Socks.