Monday, January 4, 2010

Run Way

I had a few things I wanted to blog about tonight. I guess I have a lot on my mind. What I have settled with is running fashion, or the lack thereof.

First, and before I forget. Check out the current Xtra West. If you look in the letters section there is a letter from me. My roommate picked up on my usage of 'dildo' a couple of times. He now thinks I have a dildo fascination which is not necessarily so. I published this letter on the blog a while back and now it is in Xtra West. Let us give a big cheer for real diversity!

Being fashionable while running is very difficult. This is an area where function takes precedence over form. For a racing/training flat I have 1 option from every shoe brand. The shoes that are available in this city are quite limited so I may have 2 brands to choose from. Chances are the shoe is going to be ugly with colors that are easy to clash. I usually buy my running shoes with function and cost as my priority thus I usually walk out of the store with the ugliest thing they have. I cringe to think of the monstrous shoes I have worn (Brooks Beast, hideous). When purchasing a shoe one also has to think about street cred. If I ran to the start line in a pair of Nike Shocks (or is it Shox or something dumb like that?) I would lose any status I had as a real runner. By showing up in a pair of slightly muddy road flats I am showing that I care about running fast and not about being a poser.

For running clothes in general we can divide the garments into race wear (including warm-ups) and training wear. I will start with race wear. One is allowed to match in a race, but only if they are sponsored or are representing a team. Otherwise DO NOT MATCH! Why are you paying how many hundreds of dollars to wear a matching Asics outfit? Throw on your old and comfortable singlet or sports bra, a pair of spandex shorts and hit the start line. If someone is not giving you something for free then why are you doing their advertising? Of course if you really like {insert shoe company here}'s child labor split shorts then by all means wear them proudly and show them to the world.

As for wearing all matchy, matchy it looks very professional so you better be able to run. I have to say that beating the many sponsored athletes in their matching outfits, while wearing my ratty old spandex shorts and my VFAC Singlet, makes me very happy. It also serves as strong motivation when the runners who do get stuff for free are way down the finish results. Another note, if you are wear National Team gear you better be able to win the race. There is nothing worse then watching someone finish a race wearing their matching Team Canada clothes when it is obvious they never were on a National Team. You better earn that gear if you are going to wear it. Lastly, do not wear the race t-shirt in the actual race. Once you are done it is appropriate but not during the current race. Wear your last race t-shirt with a nice pair of shorts.

Training gear can be very interesting and I am going to hit on a couple of trends that I think people should avoid.
  • Matching: Not to over emphasize the point but I do not think it is cool to totally match everything together. Real runners have tonnes of crap in their drawers from years of running. When they go to the drawer to run they usually pick out the shorts that smell the least and the shirt that does not chafe.
  • Lu Lu Lemon: You can run in a few pieces and I must admit I have a pair of their running shorts which I do like. But the whole get up of Lu Lu screams 'look at me I match and I am running and this is what everyone else is wearing and doing so that means I am cool.' It is the Kits/Vancouver cliche outfit.
  • Shorts over Spandex: This trend scares me and I do not know why. I think it harkens back to the 80's and early 90's trend of the short shorts over spandex which was truly retina burning. I wonder when someone is wearing shorts over spandex what they are hiding. Besides, not only are you soiling two garments but you are also hiding your most important asset!
  • Non Weather Appropriate: We all occasionally make the mistake of dressing before checking the temperature and thus either freeze or fry on our runs. But our mistake may involve putting on a hat when it is not needed or tights when shorts would do fine. What we ought not to do is wear 10 layers in the summer or conversly go shirtless in the snow. You look like a tool, stop!
Many basic fashion rules can apply to running apparel. Buy a few basic garments in complimentary colors and go from there. Also remember that fit is key. This may be difficult for runners who have been at it for a while. I have a pair of running tights that I have worn since I started running. They are very saggy but that just makes me look skinnier (if small running tights are too big then you must be skinny!). While matching everything may not be ideal, ensuring the garments are at least complimentary is good.

Black running tights are always good even if you feel self conscious about what you feel might be your cellulite thighs. I hear Costco has some nice training gear that is pretty cheap and looks good. They have black pants that my friend from Toronto wears and she loves them and looks great too! Black spandex shorts or baggy micro fibre shorts are always nice as a neutral garment. Adding a ratty old t-shirt or a pretty sports bra or sport top and you are ready to go.

If you are looking to purchase some running gear I would advise to not buy any t-shirts. Races always have tonnes of shirts and you can get some awesome stuff. I have a t-shirt from the Oasis Zoo Run in Toronto and I love it! It is micro fibre and it fits. It is very comfortable and it keeps me warm. You should never buy anything at full price as there are usually big sales and sales racks in stores. If you can find an old school factory outlet then you are golden. There are some companies that have big sell outs once a year, Sugoi being one, where one can purchase gear for super cheap. If in one of these sales remember that despite the hot pink tights being $5 they are still not worth it unless for Halloween or an 80's party. If you try something on and it does not fit then do not buy it, you will never wear it and nor are you going to lose weight to fit into it. Once you lose the weight reward yourself with a shopping spree and get stuff that fits!

I feel like there is a lot that I could write but when it really comes down to it try to avoid some bad trends. If you cringe when you see someone coming towards you because of their running attire then do not wear that stuff yourself.

Today I had a painful run on the Seawall (outfit up above, my favorite 3/4 length tights, old long sleeve with arm warmers, worn out gloves with the finger out so I can press my watch controls and my lightweight hat). I am sore from my run yesterday just about everywhere. I was trying to do an inventory while I was running but my mind began to wander once I got past the feet and started to inventory my leg pain. It is all muscular except for my right arch, Achilles, heel and my left arch and Achilles. I have full range so I am not too worried about tomorrow's tempo. Once I was warmed up I was feeling good so no real concerns with my current pain.

Monday: 5+miles

Happy Training!


  1. Great post, and luuuv the black and white pic up above. Totally agree with what you say --- outside of running and the gym I try to look as great as possible. When running, I could pass for that homeless dude we are running past - comfort is king!

    Happy New Year!

  2. Tx for the tips. I agree that wearing a race shirt at the event is as lame as wearing the band's current tour shirt at their concert!

    However I love my matching running outfit that I got in China for a song and wear it proudly where it counts ;)

  3. Matching is an added bonus, but it doesn't happen very often. Why oh why, though, must almost every race make their shirts some nasty semi-blue?

  4. hey white tights are now in trend!