Even though the principal focus of this site is how to do good when doing sports, it should be remembered that a main consideration when choosing what to buy is how it looks. Therefore, I have decided to offer my views on how to look good when running. Just a bit of fun for the first of April.
It is very difficult to look good when running. The sweat and the grimace of pain make it very difficult to exude cool. But that is not to say that it is completely impossible to maintain some sense of style. I’m not going to comment on women’s style because my “inner gent” prohibits me from ever saying anything negative about any female’s outfit, but based on my observations of races in this country, Germany and Spain, these are my guidelines on how to look as good as possible when running*.
- DO NOT LOOK LIKE A TRIATHLETE. This is the single most important rule to remember and is the basis of my whole philosophy on running style. This means no crop tops, no lycra (remember, we are still only commenting on men here and lycra can be a somewhat immodest material), no visors, and no compression garments (except for valid medical reasons, such as recovering from severe burns or deep vein thrombosis). Keep gadgetry to a minimum and don’t wear wraparound sunglasses. Do not wear your race number on a belt. Remember that logos are not cool, and never be seen with headphones on when racing. You know you are failing to adhere to these instructions when you’re stood at the start line of a race and someone casually asks you about your best ten mile bike leg split, or asks ‘Wie gehts?’, assuming that you are a fellow German. If this happens to you then consider the following:
- DO “REFERENCE” THE LOOK OF RUNNERS FROM THE EARLY SEVENTIES. If your club name contains the suffix ‘Harriers’, or ‘Athletics Club’, then wear your club vest at all races. If you aren’t a member of a club, or your club vest is fluorescent or the name contains the suffix ‘Joggers’, then join a club with an appropriate name or vest. Always race in 2″ split shorts and racing flats. Your watch should be a watch, not a HRM or GPS. You must be a racing animal running on guts and primal instinct, not a technologically refined paean to mass-consumer-culture whose entire racing strategy is dictated by the beeps from his wrist. Sunglasses should be cheap, light-weight and preferably of a “classic” design, such as a “wayfarer”. Sweatbands can be good, but choose wisely so as not to avoid looking “try hard” or “fancy dress”. Remember, you are trying to achieve the look of effortless cool. Long hair and a beard are worth trying. All clothing, footwear and accessories should colour co-ordinate, but not necessarily match. If you wish to keep the sun off your neck then you may wish to consider a jauntily-tied neckerchief. In addition, it is worth mentioning that your pre- and post-race attire should not resemble that of a PE teacher. You will just know when you’ve got the look right.
To illustrate the points covered above I shall now provide some example of good and bad running style.
- TEN BAD.
- FARIS AL-SULTAN. German + triathlete = this.
- ALBERTO SALAZAR. Brilliant, gutsy racer, but what is this about?
- THE RUNNER’S WORLD SUBSCRIBER. Sorry guys, but you are easily spotted by your Kayanos, Garmin and FERC vest.
- KILIAN JORNET. One of my running heroes, but often looks ridiculous. I blame the sponsors.
- VIKTOR ROTHLIN. The European Marathon Champion is also one of the most European looking marathoners.
- CURRENT BRITISH INTERNATIONALS. The Aviva Great Britain and Northern Island Athletics Team supplied by adidas.
- GALEN RUPP. Coached by Salazar. Enough said.
- THE HANSONS-BROOKS RUNNERS. Good project. Crap vest.
- SOUTH AFRICAN ULTRAMARATHONERS. Teenage girl’s vests with big logos.
- PAULA RADCLIFFE (token female on the list). Maybe the best ever marathon runner, but dressed by her sponsors.
- TEN GOOD.
- ANTON KRUPICKA. Minimalist.
- LASSE VIREN. Ticks all the boxes.
- RICKY GERVAIS. Surprising entry here, but he has got his look sorted. Shame about the headphones.
- DEEK. Moustache.
- MARTIN FAGAN. Tattos + headband + stubble = an individual look. EPO is not cool though.
- SOUTHAMPTON AC RUNNERS. Greatest club on earth. Red and white stripes always work.
- FORMER BRITISH INTERNATIONALS. Great Britain.
- PHILLIPS IDOWU. Not a runner, but definitely cool.
- KENYANS. Keep it simple. Run fast.
- JENN SHELTON (token female on the list). Obviously I think this is cool.
In summary, it is clear that to exude style when running that “less is more” and “old school” almost always beats “the now”.
* You, dear reader, are more than welcome to disagree with these guidelines, as this post is not to be taken too seriously. Feel free to comment and add your own sartorial advice, or pen your own guidelines for your own sport. Visit the Contact page to get in touch.