On The Run

7 Tips For Looking Your Best On The Run

Send me to the shopping mall with a blank cheque to buy clothes and I’ll wander aimlessly from store to store looking a combination of confused, impatient, bored and frazzled. But send me to a running store and I’m like a kid in the candy aisle surrounded by gummy bears, smarties, jelly beans and chocolates. As I move excitedly from one corner to the next, I see a world of possibilities with my only frustrations being a limited budget and flashbacks of my overstuffed sports drawers. As my head says, “But do you need it?” my heart shouts “Now that’s just a silly question!” You know how getting dressed up for a night out can leave you feeling beautiful and elegant? Well, so can getting dressed up for a run. Looking good makes me run taller, more confidently and with greater purpose. If I’m feeling down or unmotivated to run, I throw on my brightest outfit and hit the road running like a gazelle sprinting across the Kalahari Desert.

And let me stress, others may not quite see the image of this gazelle! But it’s never about them or what they think. It’s about how you FEEL when you run in something cute.  Some of you may have figured all this out already, but for those who need a little extra help, this post is for you. And if you’re rolling your eyes and about to close your browser, hear me out first! 😉

1/ Wear Comfortable But Fitted Clothes. When you’re running, comfort should always be a primary consideration. And “fit” is also very important. When I started running, I often chose oversized and drab-looking tees as a way of disappearing into the background. But all this did was to make me feel like an imposter who had no place on the road. It was only when I moved onto clothes that fitted properly, that I started feeling like I belonged as much as anyone else. Rather than expose my extra rolls, wearing something that fit right (not too tight or too baggy) only served to flatter my body shape with all its bits and bobs. Let me also highlight the importance of wearing a well-fitted bra that prevents excessive bouncing. A poorly fitted bra can lead to back, neck and breast pain, poor posture and of course very painful chafing.

2/ Wear A Splash Of Colour. Or in my case, go bright or go home! I hinted at this earlier… but let me break it down. There are days when running is easy but there are those days when you rue the day you became a runner! It might be because you’re dreading a long run or a speed session. Or because you’ve had a tough day at work, the kids have you tearing your hair out, or you’re just feeling meh. It’s on those days that you dig into those drawers and pull out the big guns – anything bright, colourful and perhaps even mismatched to the untrained eye of your partner. It can be those hot pink pants or those polka-dotted shorts paired with a blinding green top and even brighter cap. Channel your inner diva and have fun looking cute and vibrant.

3/ Wear A Cheesy Slogan. Whether it’s ‘Stronger Than You Think’, ‘Squats Squats Squats’, ‘Great Things Take Time’, ‘Don’t Stop Won’t Stop’, ‘Fearless’, or ‘Nope’, there is something quite energising about wearing some cheese. Sometimes it even makes that grumpy runner smile (maybe that was only a smirk I saw!). But smile or smirk, it can motivate others and most importantly it inspires you to run with defiance and attitude.

4/ Don’t Break The Bank. Now before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s pause for a moment. Don’t go breaking the bank to look good on the run! Yes, it’s really tempting to go all out, but definitely not worth spending more than you should. My secret? I’m always on the hunt for a good bargain and when it comes to tops, I’m all about buying as cheap as I can. Some of my most fun tops come from Mr Price Sport which is more affordable than other sports stores. When I want to treat myself, I might splurge on something more luxurious but in general many of my clothes are very reasonably priced and found on those cluttered sales racks. Also, “running clothes” often makes its way onto my birthday and Christmas wish-lists.

5/ Invest In Some Good Tights. Having said all that, I do spend a bit more money on tights that I wear for my long runs. Although Mr Price Sport often has cuter and more colourful tights, I’ve found they are not always suitable for running long distances where slippage or chafing can be a serious problem. So I use cheaper tights when I’m doing shorter runs and then more quality tights for my longer runs. My current favourites are from Total Sports and almost feel semi-Spandex like – snug without being tight, not slippery and made from beautifully soft material that keeps you comfortable and perfectly “silhouetted” for those long ones.

6/ Mix and Match. Then there is the age-old trick of mixing and matching different items for completely new and fresh looks. I swap around my tights, tops and caps all the time, often giving the impression that I’m wearing completely new outfits when all I’m doing is recycling old items.

7/ Show Off Your Personality. My final point and maybe most important… Don’t feel the need to fit into a box, to wear the latest trends and brands, to look like “so-and-so” or to fit someone else’s perception of what looks good. The most important thing is to wear something that makes you feel good and shows off your personality. If this means wearing camouflage, animal print or bright pink, go for it. If this means, wearing shorts, capris or long tights, go for it. If this means showing off your back or letting your afro loose, go for it. If it means wearing the same outfit for every run, go for it. Just wear something that makes YOU feel good.

For those who feel like imposters like I once did, know this – you belong on that road as much as the next person. This is your run, your road and your time to shine. Be that gazelle, even if no one else sees it. Yes, there are many days when I grab the nearest thing I can find! But there are days when I need that extra motivation because I’ve had a bad day or I’m dreading a hard workout – that’s when wearing a cute outfit gives me a confidence boost. So have fun, be creative, don’t sacrifice the children’s mepako (school snacks) for your look and remember – this is not to look good for anyone else. It is and will always be about YOU.

Do you like dressing up for a run? Are you really not bothered? Did you ever dress down to go unnoticed on the road? 

I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By MileCoach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.

36 thoughts on “7 Tips For Looking Your Best On The Run

  1. I am all about the clothes too! All of my running clothes are from Oiselle. They’re not cheap but I’ve bought some items super cheap. I will splurge on running clothes because they make me feel good.

    Thank you for linking up with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rock on, sister, and celebrate all the colors and patterns your eyes can handle 😉 You probably know where I stand on this “issue.” I use the hashtag #GoBrightOrGoHome frequently, and am constantly mixing and matching my pieces as well (it’s especially fun to pair up contrasting/clashing colors LOL). Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the tips about wearing a splash of color and showing off your personality! I love to wear bright and colorful running clothes!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Way back when I started exercising (more than 30 years ago, video aerobics at home) I found that the way I dressed inspired me. So no big t-shirt and baggy shorts for me. I had all the things that were in style back then including the leg warmers and butt-floss leotards.

    Now that I run I still feel the same way. I love color! I always (almost) run in skirts and compression socks so I know I have a certain “look” that is true to me. My neighbors know me when they see me coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVE this story!! Thank you for sharing!! And I love that you saw very early on how inspiring and powerful beautiful, bright workout clothes can be. I’ve seen so many of your outfits on IG and always love how you stand out against the different landscapes.


  5. These are all great points (except for the one about tights- I live in Florida and haven’t worn tights for years!) I’ve recently decided my running clothes are too “blah” so I’m trying to spice it up a little. Thanks for posting this!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ALL those photos of you are so bright and beautiful, Shathiso! I really envy runners who dress well and know how to look great on every run.
    I decided to wear a bright pink T-shirt for the ultra so at least I’m easy to spot if they have to search for me, haha! But also because I know that bright colours make me feel better.
    Thanks for all the tips – and I will be searching out Mr Price Sport next after the race! I can definitely improve on dressing better for a run.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it funny how bright colours just bring so much happiness and upliftment! Bright pink is my go-to colour when I’m having a down day! Mr Price is great – their sizing can be very confusing, for example, you might be small for one garment and then medium for another one. But in terms of fun and cheerful tops, they are my go-to place. You also have an option in Cape Town to go to the factory shops with big brands – branded items for a whole lot less than in normal stores. So please do check those out as well especially for your shorts and tights.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I just googled the factory shops…
        Nike, Asics, Adidas… wow, I wasn’t aware!
        Thanks for pointing that out, Shathiso, I will check these out, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I so agree about a splash of color! You want to make sure you’re seen, after all! Everyone wants to wear black because they’re conscious about their weight. Well, a lot of women, anyway. I totally get it — but color will just make you feel happier — sometimes even more powerful!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m a sucker for running and workout clothes. I especially love bright colors and I only wear compression leggings and capris/shorts as they really help to keep everything sucked in and minimizes my butt jiggle, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You always look great in your running photos! I love the bright gear you have. I *need* to coordinate even if I’m running in the dark and no one else will see me!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You look so great in your running photos – you have a real eye for color coordination! I don’t buy a ton of running clothes so I like what I have to be classic yet with some pop. Red, blue, and black are my go-to colors!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Laura. Now tell me to do the same for “normal clothes” and I’m completely lost and uncomfortable! Red, blue and black are beautiful and bold colours! I recently found a pair of bright red tights and I’m looking forward to wearing them. 🙂


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