How To Dress Yourself! (& the terrible grey race shirt)

Other than the actual running part, what you wear is easily the most important part of racing.  RIGHT???!

Ok, maybe fueling and sleep and the mental game are up near the top of the list too, but your outfit definitely deserves a good chunk of thought and advanced planning.

Exhibit A:

photo 1

Before we get started, let me try to explain The Terrible Grey Race Shirt

I packed a single outfit for Eugene, with only ‘blue vs yellow socks’ left for gametime decision making.  But when we got there and I laid everything out, I realized how obnoxiously… LOUD the outfit was…


Hindsight : loud & matchy probably better than grey & boobsweaty

I’m not a colorful person.  I really like black and other sad/boring colors, and NEVER wear prints.  So seeing my race threads screaming at me like that sent me into a minor panic attack.

“Guys.  I NEED a new shirt.  Get in the car we’re going shopping.”

(Did you read that like Regina George? I know you did. Don’t lie.)

All I wanted was a simple navy top, which APPARENTLY no athletic wear designers think women should wear.  WHAT’S WRONG WITH NAVY, NIKE??  So with less than 24 hours till guntime I reluctantly carried my grey shirt to the register, hoping it’d be completely saturated and dark grey by the time any photogs caught me.

(like this)


Emily, SR, Margot – I can’t believe you let this all happen.  Where was the intervention?  Friends don’t let friends sweat in grey.

What did this teach me?  First of all, that even a 20 minute PR can’t wipe the pain of a bad race outfit – those photos live forever (#blogproblems).  Second, let “outfit prep” be the distraction you need during taper.

I’m taking my own advice (for once), and have been trying to piece this puzzle together all month.  I’ve been test-running and scheming and am at a standstill – here’s a peek at my staples, brain science, and present dilemma.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


(aka find something that works, buy 100 of them, and never change)


These are your building blocks for every long run or race outfit.  Mine for the last 2+ years…

  • Supportive and non-chaffey bra I pick up these Nike Pros at TJ Maxx and Sports Authority – fun colors and easy to find on sale for <$20
  • Comfy, no-slippage, worry-free socks  -  Pumas also from TJ Maxx – I started buying them in college and refuse to wear anything else (other than compression)
  • “Run Spanx”  This Nike Pro Support Tank comes with me everywhere.  I like feeling “held in” and having a tight layer between me and whatever’s on top
And as the ultimate runner base layer, Body Glide. Just put that shit everywhere – inner thighs, under arms (past your pits), hip and collar bones, along the bottom band of your bra, etc.  Even the best materials can’t stand up to salty sweat abrasions.
(You’re nodding your head right now if you’ve ever hopped in the shower with a surprise chaffe-burn.)

* * *


(aka what you wear for the cameras)

This is where you get to be creative.  Name on your shirt to solicit some cheers?  Something frilly to make the dudes you pass feel lame (or to get their number afterwards)?  Neon head-to-toe so your pitcrew/personal photog/stalker can spot you easily on the course? 

Do it up, baby.


I was a long-time devotee to Nike capri tights.  No matter the weather, I liked not worrying about chaffing or if it looked like my crotch was eating my shorts.


Rain, shine, cold – tights (with or without compression sleeves) were a non-negotiable

Oh and that time I wore both (along with 20 other unnecessary layers)?  It’s ok, you’re allowed to laugh…


It WAS freaking cold in Columbus that year…

Now? I’ve 100% embraced the running skirt.  They’re functional and cute, and make sweating like a man seem a little less gross.  I like the no-fuss of booty shorts underneath while the skirt spares everyone from seasickness watching my thighs jiggle all over the place.

(you’re welcome, spectators)


Target C9, Adidas, Nike Pacer, Kyodan (? TJ Maxx)



I’m much less picky when it comes to running tops.  My only requirements are that they 1) hold up in the wash and 2) are long enough to not turn into a 90s crop top in flight. 

Remember to pick a material that’s not too delicate – safety pinning your bib can leave perma-damage on real fine fabrics. 

Also remember that while it may be OMGSOFREEZING at the start, you’ll (obvs) warm up during the race.  Pick a style one step cooler than you think you want.  (aka go with short sleeves if you’re feeling like long sleeves, etc)


My go-to, since I like to show off my guns it’s pretty warm in SoCal year round and I like to avoid a farmer’s tan.  Plus they take up less space in my dresser and are easier to fold than tshirts.

A few of my favorites :


RoadRunnerSports, Target C9, Nike Pro

  • TEES

This is kind of a no-brainer – any major athletic brand will have a decent tech fabric short sleeve  option.  Most of the tech tees I have are race shirts, but I do really like 26.2’s super soft (and long!) shirts, and have a few from Target’s C9 line (these are much thinner material but have a decent cut)


Target C9, Nike dri-fit, 26.2

* * *


(aka all the bonus fun stuff)

Since the majority of my tops are short sleeves or tanks, it’s nice to just add on a pair of arm warmers rather than busting out the long sleeves.  It’s also nice to have the option of pulling them off mid-run if you decide you don’t want them (I fold them up and tuck them into the back of my sports bra Quasimodo-style)


Aasics Arm Warmers

It’s no surprise I love my compression socks.  A lot of people rely on them for recovery only, but I’m a big fan of running in them.  On top of the circulation benefits, the squeeze on my shins and calfs is comforting and they (at the very least) add some warmth on those chilly race mornings.


Pro Compression Marathon Socks

And ok, I can go all “I HATE COLOR AND GIRLY THINGS” on you for the main event, but I can’t deny the urge to throw something pretty into an outfit.  If I’m skipping on the ‘race braid’ to keep my hair out of my face, it’s a sparkly headband to the rescue.


BIC Bands

* * *

So now my present dilemma….



Spandex Ninja” – C9 tank, old semi-fitted Reebok 4” shorts

Pretty Fast” – C9 tank, and either a) C9 skirt or b) pleated Fila skirt

The Go-To” – Nike Pro tank, Oiselle Rogas

All items test-ran and confirmed as viable options.  Might be another game-time decision, unless taper leaves me feeling fat and requiring the slimming power of black and spandex.

(highly likely)

Do you have any pieces you absolutely swear by or can’t live without?  Anything I HAVE to add to my arsenal?

Sarah OUaL

p.s. Picmonkey has a collage feature now, all you fellow picnik mourners…


57 thoughts on “How To Dress Yourself! (& the terrible grey race shirt)

  1. yay, picmonkey collage! LOL I goofed around with that last night instead of monitoring my kids’ movie selection :P ooops.

    I am so conservative in the race-wear/running-wear department. I am useless when it comes to fashion advice. All 3 of those outfits look totally workable to me :)


  2. Eye black would make you look hard core. Don’t know if you’ve ever run with a running hat, but it helps a ton on hot days. I don’t really care about how what I wear looks, though. I’m ugly and no pair of tight pink shorts is gonna fix that.


  3. Personally, I’m a big fan of option 3. As much as I love running skirts (and option 2 entirely… for me :)), you’ve seemed REALLY happy with your rogas and a nice blue always looks good on blondes. Plus, Pro has a PR written right on it…


  4. Rogas. Those are the supreme non chafe shorts. Glad we agree on this, since you roga revolution too. I was a die hard capris girl until they came into my life. I love lululemon cool racerback. It’s like the target tops, but you know… Fancy and with a pricy logo.


  5. Love all the outfits.

    I admit, I’m totally a sucker for some Lululemon. Yes, it’s super expensive but damn is that shit comfy and flattering. I’m in love with their speed shorts and swifty tees.


  6. I’m going to say go with “pretty fast”!! Love the skirt and bright top! I need to go get a running skirt to try out I guess.. I always hear great things about them! Thanks for all the pics of your race gear! gives me ideas of new things to try! STILL have to get me some compression socks fo sho.


  7. I’d go all spandex Ninja on Ojai- but that’s because that outfit caters to my personal preference of having everything as darned tight as possible. I am a minimalist in my running clothes from head to toe.

    That said, how do you wear tanks on long runs? I always end up chaffing my armpit/back area or run with my arms out and look like a bird about to take flight (but no chaffing!)


  8. I love “pretty fast” with the pleated skirt. So cute!

    I need to work on my race day outfits. I am Nike tempo shorts + Nike Pro bra + whatever t-shirt I’m currently obsessed with (which is usually a race shirt). I’m bad at putting together cute race outfits.

    Also, have you tried Picasa?


  9. 1.) Thank you for the picmonkey tip. I still weep at night over picnik. 2.) I almost spit out my drink at the “crotch eating my shorts” comment, not just because it was funny, but because you MUST be talking about me. I blame Brightroom for that. 3.) I vote for the Pretty Fast outfit with the C9 skirt. Simple yet still girly. Looks light and hassle free. That outfit SCREAMS BQ. Just saying.


  10. I actually like number 3 – you can’t go wrong with rogas!

    I’m pretty sure you would hate the outfit I wore for my last race – fluoro orange Nike Lunaracers, orange Mizuno split shorts and purple Mizuno jog bra. Very loud, obnoxious colours! It’s my current ‘serious race’ outfit, for other races I wear whatever. Orange is definitely my racing colour – it’s good because it’s fairly uncommon!


  11. Funny you have this up because I was just thinking I need some new running clothes and was wondering what people are wearing! Thanks for the share.


  12. I vote pretty fast. no good reason, other than you’ll look pretty in photos that hopefully will appear often on this blog, for a reason I won’t mention. #notemptingfate……


  13. If I were you, I’d go with ‘Pretty Fast’ however, you cannot go wrong with Rogas..they’re my personal fans, and of course wear a blinded out BIC band. i also can’t race without a headband in my hair! I also find compression sleeves comforting.. :)


  14. This is hilarious….I love running clothes maybe more than I love running!!! It is also quite an inspiring post because I now don’t think I have enough running clothes and I may need to hit the shops this week!!

    I would go for the ‘pretty fast’ outfit because the top is so pretty!!


  15. Every once in awhile Costco has a knock off of the lulu cool racer tank…I am obsessed. Long, tight but not too tight, tons of cute colors, 12 bucks. I buy 2 every time they show up at costco. Keep your eyes peeled!!


  16. I can’t run or do much else without a running skirt, even though they suffocate my butt, but shoes I can’t abide by. Crocs n’ socks only for running. Are there any non-butt suffocating running skirts to be had out there?


      • I meant that between underwear, the built in shorts, and the skirt layer, the butt zone can get a little hot in the running skirt. Maybe that’s just me. And I have a mangled toe/foot that can’t fit into a shoe comfortably, so crocs only if I run. That’s definitely just me. No inside joke!


  17. I LOVE racing in tanks…and it’s a toss up between shortie-spandex and running skirts (although they are kind of opposite!)
    I’m so excited to read about your O 2 O marathon! the 2-physical therapists I work with are running it and have been talking non-stop about how awesome the course is!!
    I hope you’ve been having a great weekend!


  18. i like pretty fast…
    i can’t stand t-shirts i think i wear one twice a year, and regret it both times. the only thing i wear less is ‘scoop tanks’. if it isn’t a racerback, i don’t own it. even the boy knows this, and he hates shopping :-)
    good luck with your outfit!!!


  19. i FINALLY bought some rogas and love love love them, so i of course, am voting for outfit #3! i do loooove running skirts too so you really can’t go wrong with any of the outfits….i’m a big help, i know!


  20. i’m a fan of pretty fast-but i love running in skirts. and you have no lululemon or stuff? i don’t think of myself as girly-girl IRL but i seem to be in my running clothes…hmm.


  21. This is the most important part of running in general. That’s why I have a bursting drawer filled with running clothing. A whole drawer. I’ve never run in a skirt. Yet. You look very cute in yours. So go for the Pretty Fast one, I reckon. Plus, the race photogs will spot you in that top


  22. Do you really wear a base layer “spanx” tank with every running outfit – doesn’t that get super hot? I got for the least amount of clothing without showing too much skin.


  23. Pingback: Where the Magic Came From | Once Upon a (L)ime


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