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I was never a cheerleader, but I did spend the great majority of my childhood in middle America where the jocks and cute chicks with the short skirts reigned supreme.
It was hard on Fridays when the cheerleaders wore their uniforms not to feel the slightest twinge of jealousy as they sashayed down the hall, their tanned, cellulite-free thighs on display. And while I am not channeling Taylor Swift here, I also kind of wanted to be them. Even though I played tennis and also got to wear short skirts on game days, there was something about the cheerleading skirts, pleated with the little spankies beneath that made me super jealous. Please bear in mind that I was also jealous of catholic school uniforms as well. Maybe I was an adult male with clichéd fantasies trapped inside the body of a teenage girl?
Until recently, my definition of "running clothes" meant an old pair of yoga pants I bought at Target and some t-shirts I got for free during local 5ks. The only aspects of my "gear" that actually cost any significant amount of money were my shoes. Running a marathon has kicked up the gear into a whole other level.
I now have two running watches, a training system that goes with my iPod (a new one that came with an arm band so I would not have to carry my iphone all 26.2 miles). I have worn lifts in my shoes when my Achilles felt wonky, stabilizers in their soles to keep me feet from pronating, and rubbed Biofreeze and Blue-Emu into my legs nightly.
In the past four months, I have re-discovered my love of the cute and girly and started running in skirts. Ok, yes, I used to mock the ladies who ran by me, their cute skirts flapping in the wind. I preferred clothes that could get dirty and shorts—the kind any respectable runner wears.
But then I tried one.
And while I won't wear one for the marathon (I will be wearing the outfit I have trained in for my long runs: a pair of Lululemon cropped running pants; my Tata Tamer II; a running tank top; and a throw-away t-shirt for the starting line), I can definitely get behind the ladies running in skirts trend.
Running in a skirt means never having to pull at the bottom of a pair of shorts just to make sure they are not riding up. It means honks from cute UPS drivers and a semi-presentable outfit to wear at Whole Foods after the run ends. Running in a skirt is also more comfortable. Since most skirts come with some kind of short underneath, there is little thigh chafing and the skirt stays in place better than shorts since there is no friction at the crotch.
The shorts underneath do tend to pull and bunch a bit and I did find myself (and some brands were worse than others), pulling and tugging beneath the skirt. In addition to running, I also take a kickboxing class once a week, along with one spinning class, and two boot camp classes. The skirt is really not practical for any of those classes, although it is as expensive as more versatile outfits.
Having weighed both the good and the bad aspects, I will say, I dig it. I now own a Lululemon Speed Skirt, two Sugoi skirts, and a Zoot running skirt. Although I always love Lululemon, their skirt was not my favorite. It was, perhaps, the cutest, but it was also the shortest and had the least practical shorts beneath.
The Zoot skirt and the Sugoi Stamina were my two favorites, both were made of thick material and the Sugoi skirt was a very modest length. I never worried about it riding up. But the Zoot skirt holds a special place in my heart because I won my first 5k in it. Yes, that's right. Last Wednesday night, I won a 5k with a 22:22, even with my sore Achilles.
I am not giving all the credit to the skirt, but I will say I looked much cuter crossing the finish line as the fastest woman sporting a Zoot skirt. It took me into the bar afterwards nicely as well. Running skirts—look into them. I am definitely a convert.
Sasha Brown-Worsham is a writer, a mother and an unabashed, unashamed runaholic. Check her progress each week as she trains to qualify for the Boston Marathon.