One of the best parts of my day is when I get to take off my makeup, trade my heels for running shoes and go for a run. Whether my run is with the cross country team or by myself, stripping myself of my fashionable attire for the sake of a sport is both humbling and freeing.
While it may seem contradictory, cross country is my favorite sport because of precisely how low maintenance it is. In any other scenario, be it going to class or running errands, I feel both the pressure and desire to present myself in a more professional, stylish manner. But when it comes to running, how I look is the last thing on my mind.
There are ways to have fun with style and appearance even with athletic clothing. I certainly do love the pair of obnoxiously bright yellow training shoes that I run in, but I didn’t choose them because of their color scheme. I chose them because they were the shoes that I needed.
Similarly, I don’t own several pairs of Nike “Tempo” running shorts (or “norts” as I have heard them called) because I think they are in any way attractive. I own them because they are great shorts for well, running. I’ve noticed a trend among college women in particular to hoard these shorts, having a seemingly endless collection to wear to class or, hopefully, to the gym.
However popular Nike shorts are, I would much rather spend the thirty dollars on a new shirt or pair of shoes. I’m not saying that women don’t look attractive in athletic clothes (hello, yoga pants), but I still scratch my head as to why that’s considered “cute” or fashionable.
One of my good friends on the cross country team, Ariana Rector, has laughed with me over the times when she gets complimented on her “outfit” before practice. When she was wearing her practice clothes to class, some of the other girls told her how cute she looked that day. While Rector was grateful for the nice words, she was still confused.
“When I actually dress up and look nice, they don’t say anything. But when I show up to class wearing running shorts everyone freaks out over how ‘cute’ I look,” Rector said.
That being said, I notice that several athletes will wear more comfortable clothing or the clothes they will practice in later that day to class. This practical mentality is something I understand. What still makes me scratch my head is those without the slightest intention of working out later wearing such clothes. Sure, athletes don’t have the exclusive rights to Underarmor and comfortable shoes, but trust me, I don’t wear these things for looks.
Wearing a sports bra and shorts makes me feel good about myself in a different way. I’m no longer thinking about my appearance. I’m thinking about my strength, my endurance and my athletic ability. In my daily life, my fashionable getups are a confidence booster in the same way that not caring about my looks makes me feel good while running. It’s a chance to cast off the appearance-driven fashion world, if only for two hours or so.
If wearing workout clothes is what makes people feel most comfortable about themselves, then I’m happy for them. Perhaps even a bit jealous about their nonchalance. But I’ll happily continue to hold on to my shorts and ugly tee shirts from high school for running and buy shiny new things for daily wear. My workout clothes aren’t cute. And I’m fine with it.