Do You Dress the Way You Run?

Posted by Filed Under: Running is Funny

rockyDoes your running apparel correctly reflect your running status?

Ah yes, as if we didn’t have enough to worry about when it comes to suiting up and accessorizing for a race – pronating, wicking, chafing, bouncing – the list goes on and on. But there’s also the issue of what your togs say about what kind of runner you are.

Take a look around before your next local 5k and you’ll see what I mean. There are people who are “on status” for every level of running. Elite runners like Ryan Hall adopt a certain look that identifies them as runners at the top of their game. Middle-of-the-packers have their name-brand, but relatively innocuous, running gear. Weekend walkers dress comfortably in stuff they also use for other physical activities.

But others stretch the boundaries. Dathan Ritzenhein’s Nike sleeves were a subtle addition, but even elite runners have to be careful to avoid a look that screams “Italian triathlete” or “no, really, this will shave 10 seconds off my PR.”

You can go under status as well. For one of my first races, I wore 10-year-old cross trainers, tube socks, old basketball shorts, and a cotton tee shirt I bought at the Alamo. And haven’t we all seen this guy at a race? Nothing says “I last got off the couch in 1976” than this look.

It’s no different for women. The ladies love running apparel, but they are equally conscious of how it reflects their running status. Forgive me for generalizing, but the lure of “up-status” gear can be motivating. Women who want to be seen as serious runners will abandon the bargain bins at their local big box sporting goods store for the name-brands, bright colors and flattering fits. This ponytail hat says “runner.” This one says “my great aunt needs a new hobby.”

You know you’ve arrived as an elite female athlete when you can rock the Paula Radcliffe look. If I had abs like those I would augment the outfit with a big neon arrow on my chest pointing down to them.

Clothes don’t make the runner, but they can make you feel more like a runner. Otherwise we’d all be out there in gray sweats.

About Mike Antonucci

I ran 6-minute miles when I was in the military, then tapered for 20 years. Two-time marathoner (3:43 PR), my next goal is to stay healthy enough to run another. There are literally thousands of people handing out running advice and serious tips. I prefer to focus on the humorous or odd facets of our shared obsession. Let's face it, running is funny.

  1. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on April 11th at 6:06 am

    Don’t forget that athletes like Ritz or Ryan Hall are also paid for wearing certain outfits / shoes / accessories…

  2. Runatthemouth on April 11th at 8:20 am

    Sometimes I wear running gear that I feel like I’m nowhere near fast enough to justify wearing. It’s nice to go out running and look like a real runner (at least while I’m standing still). I find it motivating. Conversely, I sometimes run in a ratty old t-shirt that’s way too large. It’s funny how much energy one can put into managing one’s “running image.”

    Runatthemouth’s last blog post..My plan – going nowhere fast

  3. Candis on April 11th at 9:04 am

    I think there are some duds that should sport a wearers tag “reserved for 90lb. 2% bodyfat runners” maybe they’d pay me not to weat them 🙂

    I waaaaay over analyze what to wear- too hot, too scratchy, too white.

    Candis’s last blog post..Your Millionaire Bachelorette Party

  4. crossn81 on April 11th at 4:01 pm

    A few weeks ago I was sporting a new jersey for the new club I joined. The singlet is red, but I was still wearing my purple racing shorts from college. I didn’t have a problem with it, but my wife was like we need to buy you some red shorts to race in. Why spend the money?? Can’t I clash?

    crossn81’s last blog post..Foto Friday

  5. Dawn - Pink Chick on April 11th at 5:13 pm

    Never judge a runner by what they wear. I remember a girl from the first running clinic I ever took. She dressed the part. The perfect matching running gear from head to toe. I showed up on race day in old running shoes, cotton shirt and all the wrong things. I still kicked her butt by over 15 minutes in the 10k race we had trained for. I wasn’t fast but she was dead slow even in her fancy running gear…lol

    We also have a guy in our local running club that wears the “clashiest” outfits, so much so that my granddaughter calls him “Mr Fancy Pancy”. Trust me his running fashion is fast and flashy but his running style is simply fast.

    Dawn – Pink Chick’s last blog post..Farewell to our best friend, LeBut 🙁

  6. bryan on April 11th at 11:50 pm

    Absolutely love the Italian triathlete photo. I laughed out loud when I saw it. I have five shirts I run in and four pairs of shorts and I pretty much grab whichever is on top. At one point they probably looked nice, but now they’re pretty ratty. I’m cool with it, though.

    Anyway, I’ve been writing a post that touches on this a little. I’ll have to link your post in it because this was too good.

    bryan’s last blog post..Ryan Hall says he’s ready to go

  7. Louann on April 13th at 5:59 pm

    The Italian triathlete is HOT. Where can I get one? 😉

    I actually feel better when I run in the latest running gear. I’m not fast, but I feel more motivated when I look the part.

  8. AndrewE on April 14th at 10:29 am

    It’s true. Clothes make the runner. And lets not forget the toys! Garmin etc.

    AndrewE’s last blog post..Weigh in: A loss is a loss

  9. Jeanne on April 14th at 2:06 pm

    i want that helmet, just for the fright factor.

    no matter what i wear, it’s never right. too hot, too cold, too itchy, too small, makes my butt look too big…


    I have the same problem dressing in real life!

  10. 5ksandcabernets on April 15th at 6:32 am

    I dress like a slug so when I run, so maybe I look like an overachiever when I run.

    5ksandcabernets’s last blog post..Boston Marathon: Interview with a real live BQer

  11. Duff on April 15th at 12:42 pm

    I race for the shirts and I wear the shirts when I run. That way when someone sees me when I am running they can tell that I ran a race. I rotate the shirts so that if that same persons sees me running again they now know that I have ran more than one race.
    Actually I wear for function. I do a lot of running in before the sun comes up so I wear brightly colored stuff. I got a couple of hunters vests that really pop and I can be seen in pictures from about a half a mile away. A plus is that they are fleece, so in the harsh winter the vest keeps my tummy warm.
    Another thing is the bike jersey for long runs and marathons. The three back pockets are perfect for ID, MP3 players, and gels.
    Where can i get that grandma knit cap thing? I would go perfect with my cap collection.

    Duff’s last blog post..Space’s Victory:Jog into Spring Race Report

  12. Pink Asphalt Mama on April 16th at 4:56 pm

    One comment for Duff on the t-shirts. Please PLEASE tell me you don’t wear them at the same race that you got them. Nothing screams “AMATEUR” more than wearing the t-shirt for that event. Now, wearing last year’s t-shirt exudes “yeah, been there, done that, got the t-shirt”, but wearing this year’s shirt is nowhere near cool. Sorry.