‘What to Wear’ (Running)

Okay, I’ve stolen the title for this article.  In fact, it took it off of the cover from Runner’s World Issue 4/2019.  Having received the magazine a few weeks ago it does puzzle me where the year on the cover reads 2019.  The calendar question isn’t what has prompted me to consider this writing.  It was the eye-catching promise of meaningful information delivered within the pages behind the cover.

The headlines on the cover of Runner’s World pledged “53 Surefire answers to one of running’s most enduring questions: What to Wear”.  The periodical suggests the information inside will educate readers on “How to choose the gear that helps you run faster, longer and stronger in any weather”.  Furthermore, RW offers “You’ll also love our revamped interactive ‘What to wear’ tool at runnersworld.com/what-to-wear.”

Seriously, I’m not kidding

I have been a runner all of my life.  Not always a runner that ran in order to race, but running has always been part of my sports training.  I have competed in more running races than I can remember even winning a few. But, running in general is an activity that prepares me for other sports. Winning a foot race for me has rarely been a primary goal.

For example, when I competed in triathlons running was the 3rd disciple on those events.  I had to run in a triathlon.  So, I trained as a runner.  The hope for a triathlon run was to lose a little ground as possible from my gains during the cycling segment of the event.

I’d enter a marathon and run it as part if my triathlon training.  Doing so was a fun way to train. On many occasions I get up ride my bike to a running race, do the race then ride the bike home.  That was part my multi-sport training.

This was a 10K or 1/2 marathon (I can’t remember which distance) 18 miles from our home in Easton, MD. I rode my bike there, did the race, then rode home.

In high school, when I played football, we ran to help with our conditioning.  During the offseason our coaches made us run track to stay on shape for the football season.  As a cyclist I ran every off-season.  Progressing from cycling to duathlons and next to triathlons I ran.  I have run for one reason or another for well over than half a century. This reference excludes the childhood bliss of running. That bliss remains available to me playing tag or racing my grandchildren.

“Let’s race Granddaddy,” is a common request and I almost always agree. Believe me, those kids can sprint! I am not ashamed to say that on more than one occasion following an afternoon of sprinting I have felt it the next day. And I know the competition is getting serious when their shoes come off.

Seeing the articles on Runner’s World I felt a surge of pride.  Not once over more than 6 decades did I ever show up for a run improperly dressed. Never in my life have I arrived at a training run wearing boots and a dress suit.  (I wear nice western style boots with my business attire) To be fair that would be stupid and no one else has ever done that either – almost.

While I’ve never run a foot race wearing boots a friend of mine once did.  It wasn’t planned.  In fact, he wasn’t  planning to run the race.  His daughter, then 10 years old, had entered a 5K.

He’d driven her to the race after coming home off a night shift.  He’d been called in to handle a case at the hospital where he is an anesthesiologist during the early hours before the Saturday race time. He was still dressed in scrubs and wearing cowboy boots when he made it home to take his daughter to the 5K. There wasn’t time to change his clothes before they departed for the start of the 5K.

Once at the race his daughter became intimidated by the mass of runners and was nervous about running in the crowd. She wanted to go home.  Rather than see his daughter’s 5K dream squashed he entered the race and ran with her – Luccheses and all.

This hasn’t happened to me – ever!

From a more practical standpoint, if run training is occurring when it was hot I dress in light attire and if the weather is cold I wear stuff to keep me warm.  I can’t recall ever being instructed on what to wear while running.  Certainly, I have never turned to a computer application for a pre-run tutorial on what to wear for the activity. So, I was surprised to learn that what to wear during a run is one of running’s more enduring questions.

Well, you might think, “Heck David, you live in the South where weather is generally pretty nice, and you don’t need to make difficult running attire decisions.”  If that question comes to your mind you are not 100% correct. Furthermore, the difficulty of the question isn’t much.

I have run in 49 States, 21 countries and 1 territory.  What’s more I’ve done it through all seasons in all types of weather.  I have run in February near the Artic Circle (Gällivare, Sweden)  and in August in Las Vegas.  I promise I did not wear the same gear for those dissimilar environments.  I assure you no one helped me get dressed.  Neither did I need the support of an interactive computer tool to know what to wear.  Aside from donning running attire I’ve been getting dressed pretty much unassisted since I was a child.

There have been a few times when my wife did object to my choice of clothes prior to some social gathering.  The question so many of us have heard, “You’re not wearing that are you?” has happened to me.  Those situations were ones of preference not function.

Opening the pages of Runner’s World there is an article by an expert at putting on his running clothes (page 12).  He advocates: Eyewear – $165.00, hat – $32.00, Airpods – $159.00, shorts – $42.00, briefs – $36.00, cool down footwear – $50.00. Not accounting for his actual running shoes the price tag comes to $484.00.  Add a pair of shoes (page 93) at $155.00 and socks (page 44) $20.00 dressing for a warm weather run could cost $659.00.  Dang, that seems like a lot of money and the total still doesn’t cover a shirt.  The expert dresser had forgotten about a shirt during his advising column. I found one  for him on page 41 for $55.00.  The grand total is now $714.00! Holy Cow!

Note: the expert on run dressing missed – shoes, socks and his shirt among the required clothing as written in his explanation of what to wear for a run. He might have found it helpful to have opened the RW interactive computer application to have aided his article. On the other hand you can run without any footwear and a shirt really isn’t necessary. However, in a triathlon during the run some organizations require shirts – you cannot race without wearing a shirt. The RW expert, perhaps, isn’t associated with triathlons.

I ran this morning and it wasn’t cold.  I wore similar apparel to the expert’s advised gear listed in Runner’s World.  I couldn’t remember what I’d paid for my gear.  But, I knew where to look to find out – Amazon’s link to my past purchases: Shoes Nike Revolution 4, $50.62, shorts Baleaf – $19.99 (these have a stitched in brief, an expert’s additional expense avoided), socks from Sock Guy, $7.60, T-shirt Goodthreads $12.00, cap with UGA logo $18.00.  The cap was purchased from a drugstore in Athens, Georgia.

I don’t use “cool down recover shoes” so money saved there.  I, also, don’t run with music playing, I’d rather hear what’s going on around me on the trails I run. So, another savings there on the Airpods.  Note: I wouldn’t buy Airpods period.  That would be money soon lost.

My total cost toward the unassisted body covering of running apparel: $108.21. Would I have run faster or longer or even more comfortably having spend another $605.79 (the difference in my apparel versus the above expert’s) – nope.

Less than fancy race apparel (5K in Miami, 1st place sometime a decade or so ago)

Reading over the material in Issue 4/2019 of Runner’s World I didn’t get the impression I was any more enlightened in the matter of apparel for running than I had been when I began the read.  Curiously, I hadn’t known I needed enlightenment in the matter at hand. Admittedly, the examples of runners modeling clothing in this issue all appeared to be wearing fancier gear than I have wear worn or probably ever will wear with one exception.


The exception was Steve Prefontaine.  Runner’s World ran a picture in Issue 4/2019 of ‘Pre’ from what I guess was taken in 1972 during the Olympics or at the 1971 Pan Am Games.  I made that guess because Pre is wearing a “USA” jersey.  I, too, have a USA Team kit from a World Championship team.  I doubt either one of our jerseys was in the price neighborhood of $55.00 similar to the one on page 41 of RW.

My one cool kit

When I finally closed the pages of RW Issue 4/2019 it felt more like I’d been schooled on how to spend money.  The cover’s eye catcher would have been better presented as “53 Surefire answers to one of running’s most enduring questions: What to Buy”.   For me, I’ll run cheap and more modestly dressed. It really is easy.