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 Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.