I remember a few years ago when I first heard the term "athleisure," I was immediately on board. A bona fide fashion trend that encouraged wearing workout clothes outside of the gym? Who could possibly say no. But, after a few years and many, many brunches spent sporting leggings, I started to view my favorite fitness pieces as more than just my weekend loungewear.
It was during this time that I started to take my sport — running — a little more seriously. I began signing up for races, buckling down with training, and investing in real runner's attire. For me, saving up for those early purchases — compression sports bras to ease my comfort running, chafe-free leggings for all-season training, a fitness tracker to record my progress, and real running shoes to reduce injury — signified my dedication to the sport.
As I began to devote my weekends to running miles upon miles, I educated myself on the benefits of finding the proper running shoe for your gait. I viewed sports bras as not just a one-size-fits-all option. And I learned all about the different fabric technologies available that would help me keep the course year around. I was already putting in the work, so why not outfit myself with gear that would help me train smarter?
That's when it clicked for me. My running gear was my equivalent of a tennis player's racket or golfer's clubs. I wasn't about to take a match-ready tennis racket to brunch, so why would I wear my race sneakers out to get mimosas? But beyond saving the mileage on my sneakers, I want to reserve my best performance apparel for training and race day because that's what it was made to do.
My favorite running shorts were made with ventilation panels to help me stay cool on my 20-mile run in 90-degree heat. My windbreaker was made to keep me dry if I had to battle the elements on a run not keep me warm during a Netflix session. Having respect for my gear was my way of honoring my training and love of the sport. Now when I look to shop for my next race day sneakers like the UA HOVR™ Sonic 3 Running Shoes ($110), I'm only thinking about how they will feel upon impact.
And no, that doesn't mean I'm anti-athleisure — I'll still don an oversize hoodie any day. It simply means that I take as much pride in my race gear as I do my hard work.