My fascination for running is not limited to the physical challenge it offers and the resilience of the runner’s spirit to respond accordingly. Another aspect of running that piques my interest involves the shallower side that is more visual than profound – the running outfit.
I don’t consider myself a very particular person fashion wise; neither am I sloppy. I like to dress comfortably for the rigor of a sport activity like running, but comfortably fashionable that is. But trying to dress oneself from head to foot with cool outfit from major brands that specializes in providing top of the line, technical running wear can be quite expensive for a rank-and-file earner like me. Thus a lot of times cool running fashion is, for me, more of wishful thinking than reality. This does not stop me from spying though, criticizing and admiring other runners’ diverse outfits ranging from sloppy to cool, gaudy to streamlined and outré to fantabulous!
I have divided runners and their signature wear into these categories:
The Wa Kebs or The Bahala Na Si Batman Runners – They comprises the basement dwellers of the running fashion hierarchy. This is the kind of look where the runner uses what is readily available in their closet be it the comfy cotton shirt and shorts with ventilation holes all over from much use and abuse. Their familiarity is like a comfort food and their smell so indistinct from that of the owner that they are one and the same. This looks is very versatile in a sense that this can be used as stay-at-home get up, gardening and buying-suka-in-the-suking-tindahan wear. In short, this is the most comfortable attire for the runner that assures him/her the comforting familiarity of home while running in an unfamiliar territory.
The Carry Lang or The Average Joe/Jane Runners – With the above type of runners, they comprise the bulk of the fun runners. This is because one need not spend a fortune in this kind of wear. The Average Joe/Jane wear the standard issue singlet that they have paid for in their registration fee and regular running shorts with no prestigious name tag attached. This kind of wear can be availed for a very minimal amount from the ever growing sports apparel stores if not the ukay-ukays and dv malls. Their running mantra is that they came to run and have fun and go home; no frills no anything, just fun running. This wear is just a tad higher in the echelon of running fashion, effort-wise and look-wise, than the Wa Kebs runners.
The Mapagkunyari or The Pirate Runners – The name says it all. They are the bunch of pretenders, pretending to look branded and expensive but for a tad of the amount of the real ones. They scout the areas of Baclaran and Divisoria for the multitude of imitation wear they can project to the impressionable ones and pass off as the real deal. But of course the denizens of Forbes and Dasma are smirking at such brandishment of class. In the mind of those wearing though it’s all in the spirit of fun!
The Uniquely Me Runners – These runners are comprised of the innovative ones who, due to financial constraints or sheer miserly, would rather use their imagination and spirit of adventure to scout for apparels that resemble the fashionable and the cool to their own characteristic taste. They are an improvement over the Pirate ones in a sense that they aspire to look cool through the strength of their imagination and craftsmanship and not the fancy of wearing imitation or pirated ensemble. With some help from Aling Sussie, the next door suking mananahi, they design their own running attire like sporty nike or addidas-looking shorts, or turn a cycling short from the sidewalk hawker into some sort of a trisuit. A cut here, an alteration here, some tuck here and voila, a personalized running outfit!
The Pinagpala or The Cool Runners – This look can be very deceiving. It looks very simple, almost Average Joe/Janish, consisting of what you would expect the regular runners to use: shirts (either sleeved or singlet) and shorts (ranging from almost-elite-runner-short shorts to cycling types). Take note though this very simple look can be very expensive if you happen to see that swoosh symbol or the three stripes somewhere conspicuous yet daintily printed. This look is simple and classic, yet expensive. The factors that differentiate this look from the AJL are the brand names and the corresponding price tags of the apparels used, as well as their aversion to wearing the dorky-looking singlets. In short, you are not a Cool Runner if the total value of your shirt and short is less than 2 grand.
The Higit Sa Pinagpala or The Cool Amped Runners – A little something is sometimes added to the classic Cool Runners look like compression socks and/or sleeves. A cap or visor with shades, hydration and race belt, and certain accessories like music player in armband complete this look. The techie runners fall under this category. Each and every look category mentioned here can have their respective Amped version if accessorized properly with the above mentioned gears. Save maybe for the last category the reason why fore you will know as you read on.
The Kabogera or The Elite Runners – Runners who are considered elites usually have been pounding the streets for the longest time and have been into rigorous training before mortals realized their respective bodies are made for running. They wear the most minimal and the most efficient running outfit of all. Foremost in their purpose in achieving is speed and comfort. What wear can provide them that is what they use. Usually this consists of very skimpy split type shorts (in local running lingo – nyort nyorts) and bra top for the female runners (not unless some male runners opt to do so), nothing more and, I believe, no lesser can it go. I fervently believe that I belong in this group like fish to water, or not! Mere running mortals with not so defined limb muscles, inexistent abdominal muscles and more rounded and flabby shoulders are wary of this outfit. Not unless they want to expose for the entire world to see how far they need to be running more!
The Cycle TriSuiters – The name is likewise self-explanatory. These runners don either the cycling outfits or the prestigious trisuits used in, what else, triathlon! Duh! It’s either they are one or pretending to be one. I am a believer of the saying, “Fake it till you get it”. This is not to say that some are fakers but, what the heck, to each his own! Maybe I am just venting my frustration at these guys out of jealousy for not having the guts they have to start training and be one. I take my hats off to them in the same reverence I do for the ultra-marathoners. But that’s another story. If they are comfy or are getting themselves to be doing road races in their prestigious outfit, then by all means. I have to admit, they look cooooool! So there’s the rub.
The Leggie Compressionaries – This bunch composes of the more techie kinds who have all the bucks to burn. Compression wear is very expensive with simple tights costing more than 5 thousand pesos. Though not much conclusive scientific evidence as to their efficacy, many vow to their ability to speed up recovery after a long run and limiting muscle fatigue due to increased circulation and less jarring movements while running. Though ideal for long runs like half or full marathon, many short distance runners are seen sporting this look more for fashion and comfort than the gear’s purported use I suppose. I included in this group those who wear the much cheaper, though branded, legging type wear which does not have the compression and the price tag of the real deal but sure looks like one, thus the name.
The Men/Women In Black – This is the variation to the Compressed Look. Compression wear comes usually in black color. Thus those using them have black theme to their look. However, unlike the above look runners who tamper this drab color palette with some dash of color here and there, the M/WIBs on the other hand would love to highlight the classic monotone. The outfit usually comprises of full tights, black shirt and sometimes black compression sleeves. The alternate would be black “cycling” tights, black compression sock and black shirt.
The Bongga Ka Day or The CosPlayers – If you happen to see superman and the bunch of super heroes running with mortals or a drag queen mixing sweat with foundation and glittery eyelashes, don’t take a second look, they are runners who want something more out of their running experience than just running. Some might call the KSPs or kulang sa pansin or even out-of-this-world, but for them, combining fun with running is the very essence of what a “fun run” should be. Though over the top their running mantra might be, for them providing some sort of welcome diversion to the monotony of a repetitive leg movement, the overly used routes and the putrid smell of the cumulative sweat, is worth all the pain they have to bear running in those thick and heavy costumes. And I fervently believe that each fun runner should have at least one set waiting in their closet if ever the fun itch would become unbearable.
And last but certainly not the least are a special breed of runners. They can either be any of the above mentioned runners and more! They exude a special aura about them. Either they be simply dressed in classic running wear or in the most fab of costumes, the air of confidence and glam is outstanding and overpowering. They are the Fabulous Running Divas! Get to know more of them in my succeeding post.
Now what type of runner do you think you belong and which one you aspire for? Or if you are too unique to be categorized, what do you call your look?