What to wear to be fashionably comfortable marathoner
Thursday, July 21, 2005
by Lani Teshima, staff editor
Running (and walking) for exercise takes very little equipment. The only item you really need to invest in is a good pair of shoes, and I shared some tips on how to pick up a good pair in my April installment of this series. In addition to shoes, there are various things you can wear and carry with you, both during the marathon and during your training.
Sweats, or sweatless?
When you envision someone who's out of shape and huffing around the gym,
what do you see? Someone wearing a headband, gray sweat pants and a long-sleeve
sweatshirt? What do you think of when think of an elite superathlete?
Someone in a thin singlet top with what amounts to a brief pair of Speedos
for running shorts?
Brazilian runner Adriano Bastos jumps for joy Jan. 9, 2005, as he crosses the finish line of today's Walt Disney World Marathon in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Bastos, age 26, was crowned the overall champion of the 26.2-mile trek through Disney's theme parks and resorts for the second time, having placed first in the 2003 event. Bastos, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, completed the 2005 race in 2:19:16. Photo © Disney.
As an ordinary person, you probably fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. So let's take a look at some of the clothes you can wear.
Preventing excess cling
Although cotton T-shirts are comfortable for lounging around, they are
not your best choice for working out in, especially if you are heading
out for a run or vigorous walk. As you sweat, your perspiration collects
in the fabric, weighing your shirt down and clinging to you. Instead,
opt for synthetic fabric tops that breathe and wick moisture from your
skin. The most popular fabric is called CoolMax, and it feels very soft
and light as a feather. Tops made with CoolMax are labeled as such if
you purchase them online, and they also have hang tags identifying the
fabric as well. These days, it's pretty easy to find CoolMax tops in your
sporting goods store.
Since CoolMax dries so quickly, you can easily get by with just a few
tops in your workout wardrobe; just give it a quick wash in the sink when
you get home and hang it up for a few hours and they will be dry. If you're
in a real rush, lay it flat on a bath towel, then roll the towel and wring
it to get most of the moisture out of your top.
If your budget won't allow for CoolMax shirts, you might consider lightening
the weight of your cotton T-shirtthis is especially good if you
are a woman and regular T-shirts hang too low around your hips. Take your
grungy T-shirts and shorten the hems on them so they stop around your
hips. This will allow more freedom of movement as well as breathability
around your waist. If the neck area feels too tight, consider either slitting
the crew neck a few inches down the front, or removing the neck band altogether.
As you start entering shorter fun runs and walks, you will start accumulating
finisher's T-shirts. These make great workout shirts, and many of them
now use synthetic wicking material (Disney did this for the first time
this past January).
One word of caution to women: Beware that white CoolMax shirts, once
you start sweating, start becoming somewhat transparent. If you have a
choice, go with a darker color.
If you plan to run in the middle of the day, make sure you apply some
strong sunscreen before you head out the door, even in places that are
covered by your CoolMax top. The SPF factor is not particularly high,
especially if the shirt is white. This also applies if you plan on heading
out with just your jog bra or a tank top as well.
Let me touch briefly on jog bras. If you are small-chested, the standard
compression-style, pullover jog bra made of stretchy fabric will probably
work fine for you if you want a separate workout bra. But if you are anything
more than a full B cup, you should make an effort to get a good jog bra
that lifts and separates, and maybe provides extra hooks,
padded shoulder straps, or even underwire. In fact, for ample women, jog
bras may end up costing more than running shoes because the good jog bras
can often run you more than $40. Plan on spending some time when you shop
for jog bras, because you will need to try them on, and bounce around
in the dressing room. Swing your arms, and make sure it doesn't irritate
or rub you the wrong way. You might even consider wearing your running
shoes when you go jog bra shopping so it's easier to do this. The idea
is to find a jog bra that keeps things in place without making you feel
like you can't breathe.
Unfortunately, most bargain-priced jog bras give you no indication of
how much support they provide. Even the more expensive ones might
say they are supportive for active sports, but they may not work for you.
If you have trouble finding good jog bras in your area, might I recommend
Title 9 Sports (link)? This
women-owned sporting goods store based in Berkeley, California, not only
sells the widest assortment of jog bras, but has a very easy-to-understand
rating system using barbell icons in their catalog that tells you how
much support each bra provides.
Most running shorts are made of Supplex nylon. It's soft, light and fast-drying.
These shorts usually have a CoolMax liner to help wick away moisture from
your skin. Others might prefer Lycra nylon shorts -- similar to Spandex
biking shorts. These, too, are fine. Just try to avoid heavy fabrics,
along with shorts that are so loose that they may chafe your inner thighs
as the miles stack up. Above all, find something that makes you feel cool
Basically, there are two types of shorts that people run in: The traditional
running shorts made of lightweight Supplex nylon, and the more modest,
longer compression bike shorts. If you aren't thin, you might feel too
conscientious wearing some of the running shorts with notches on the sides.
Some people like to wear the bike shorts as their base layer, then a pair
of running shorts over them.
Mostly, if your thighs rub against each other, you get what I getchub
rub (hey, I'm not embarrassed to say I get chub rub!)or what
most people refer to as chafing. Chafing may not hurt quite so much during
your run, but as soon as you hit the showers, ouch! To prevent
chub rub, consider wearing compression shorts made of Lycra. Your other
option is to use something like Body Glide, which looks just like deodorant
but rub some on and it prevents chub rub.
Windy or cool weather
Once the weather starts turning cool, you can either restrict your running
to the gym (I am guilty of this; actually, I do most of my running in
the gym because it fits into my busy schedule), or add a little more to
your wardrobe. If it's just windy and cool, consider getting a very lightweight
windbreaker. If you want to run in the rain, however, GoreTex is your
friend. GoreTex jackets are not cheap, but this high-tech fabric actually
lets your sweat evaporate while keeping the rain drops out, leading to
a much more pleasant experience.
As it gets chillier, consider keeping your extremities warm: Wear mittens
or gloves, and a knit cap to keep the heat from leaving the top of your
head. These, with the use of a second layer of running shirt and/or a
windbreaker and a pair of Supplex nylon tights, can often help you run
outdoors well into the fall.
Once it gets really cold, you do have some options, including polypro
and even microfleece... but based on what I hear from MousePlanet staff
Mike Scopa (who lives in New Hampshire), a lot of folks just head for
the gym when it gets truly cold.
Consider wearing a cap or visor when you run outside during the day.
Shading your eyes can help keep you from getting too tired (and you won't
have to squint so much), and double-duty by keeping a lot of sweat off
your face. On warmer days, consider wearing a cap designed for running;
they are often made of mesh panels or have various vents to cool your
Yes, you can even buy running socks. Should you get some? That depends
on what you already wear, but when you go shoe shopping, make sure to
take into account the type of socks you wear, since sock thickness can
affect the size of the shoes you buy.
In general, avoid all-cotton socks for the same reason you want to avoid
cotton T-shirts. You can buy running socks made of Coolmax, as well as
an acrylic blend that gives extra support and stretch. In addition, you
can purchase sock liners, which are very thin. And if you
are prone to blisters, you can wear two pairs of sock liners or get a
pair of blister-free socks, which are double-layered socks
(the idea being that if you have a separate layer rubbing against the
shoes from the layer touching your feet, your skin will not get over-rubbed.
Usually, runners stick to ankle-length socks. If you're used to knee-highs,
save them for your basketball games.
Some people wear sunglasses when they run. In addition to caps and visors,
this is another good solution for keeping the sun out of the eyes. Consider
purchasing wraparound sunglasses; they are designed for sweating, so they
tend not to start falling down your nose when you are working out. If
you are concerned about losing your sunglasses (or if you are wondering
what to do when you want to run without them on), consider a pair of neoprene
sunglass straps like the type made by Croakies. They use no metal that
can rust, and you can cinch them up tightly so they provide a strap-down
effect across the back of your head.
Finally, if you are going to bother wearing sunglasses for your runs,
get serious and find a pair that is very dark and provides UV protection,
or find a pair that is polarized. Some people even wear the large fishermen's
sunglasses; they are cheaper than fashionable sports sunglasses and are
almost always polarized.
Disney running gear now available
We are still six months away from the 2006 marathon event, but Disney
has begun selling its Run Disney logowear at Disney Direct
There, you can take your pick from a number of shirt styles for both men
and women, including short sleeves, long sleeves, singlets, tank tops,
and running shorts. And extra credit goes to Disney for selling colors
besides just plain white (which they have done in the past). Although
the shirts are not made of CoolMax, they use a wicking fabric called Micropoly.
They all have small stitching in the front with the Run Disney logo. They
look good enough to wear as part of your regular wardrobe, but you can
work out in them, too.
If you need to wear a Disney item, now you can be both fashionable and
comfortable in your runs; go ahead and put that all-cotton Mickey Mouse
Club T-shirt back in your dresser.
Marathon-related news bits
Are you still putting off registering? Because Disney split out the two
events into two separate days, neither the marathon nor half-marathon
have sold out... yet. If you are considering entering, you really don't
want to put it off much longer (register
here). For one thing, you need to make the commitment mentally so
that you can start training.
A Disneyland marathon?
Jim Hill reports at his site, Jim Hill Media, that the
Walt Disney Company has registered a number of telling Web site domains,
including DisneylandMarathon.com, HappiestRace.com, and HappiestRaceOnEarth.com.
Jim also mentions that Disney registered another domain, DisneylandHalfMarathon.com,
MousePlanet has been reporting these past months about how Disneyland
President Matt Ouimet is interested in importing successful projects from
Walt Disney World, so it's not very surprising that they might give this
According to Jim, the word is that an announcement might be made this
fall for a fall 2006 event.
Although a Disneyland marathon would naturally attract a crowd, I have
a couple of concerns. First, I sincerely hope that Disney hires real race
organizers, because most of the participants will enter it because they
want to run a marathon, not because they are signing up with the idea
that it's another special event tied closely to merchandising. The folks
who organize the Walt Disney World Marathon have done a pretty good job;
maybe some of them will transfer to California to lead in the planning
so that this doesn't turn into another excuse for a limited edition pin
My second concern is that the marathon scene is already really crowded
in Southern California, with the Orange County Marathon held in January,
the San Diego Marathon and Half-Marathon in Carlsbad held in January,
the huge City of Los Angeles (L.A.) Marathon is held in mid-March, , and
the tremendously popular Rock 'n Roll Marathon held in June in San Diego,
and the beginner-friendly Long Beach marathon is held in mid-October.
Disney will have to find some way to lure local runners to enter their
race, because a lot of people will still choose to run in Walt Disney
My third concern is that depending on when they schedule the marathon,
they may end up competing against themselves. The Walt Disney World Marathon
is held in early January. For the ordinary jogger, entering two marathons
only a couple of months away means putting too much stress on the body.
This may very well force runners to have to choose one or the other.
Finally, unlike the WDW Marathon where the entire course is on Disney
property, the Disneyland Resort is not large enough but to provide a couple
of miles at the most. One of the biggest draws of the WDW event is that
it's all held on property, so how will Disneyland attract participants?
Who knows, it may turn out to be an exceptional event. I will keep my
mind open until I get more information. And hey, if it means we can get
a large contingent of West Coast MousePlanet readers to lace up their
shoes and enter, all the better.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lani here.