You should be running in a skirt

Last spring, long before I ever really, truly entertained the idea of running more than a block at a time, I noticed that more and more running skirts were making their way on to the pages of sites and catalogs and magazines focused on women’s workout wear. I’d even reviewed a running skirt a few years before that — the first I’d ever seen and more of a contraption of Velcro and pockets and practicality than anything I was amped up to put on my body before sweating for 40 minutes.

Fast forward to the emergence running skirts nearly a year ago. I was doing a lot of walking and yoga at the time, so I could certainly wear one of the cute, sassy-print running skirts I found to exercise at my own pace. But didn’t really appreciate running skirts until I started running for real.

Once my pace picked up, the problem of what to do with my iPod, cell phone, tissues and house keys became much more of a problem. As the frequency of my workouts increased, so did the issue of how much gear I owned that I really wanted to wear when I was huffing and puffing around the park. And finally, as the temperature started changing from balmy and beautiful to windy and then wintry, so did my confusion about how to dress well for the fluctuating temperatures.

Are these problems on par with world hunger or health care reform or the lack of clean water in developing countries? Clearly, no.

But if you are working out or trying to train seriously, what you are wearing can help you by making your hard-charging body feel comfortable and cool and dry. It can also hinder you if you constantly need to readjust or yank at tags or stretch out something tight and binding. And it can even hurt you by chafing or scratching or contributing to blistered skin. Surely, many people are very happy running in an old frat party t-shirt and their little sister’s Forever 21 velour shorts (go on with your hardcore selves, ladies), but I am not one of those women.  I need comfort, I need great fit, and I need not be worrying about how much my thighs are jiggly in front of God, the other people in the fitness room, and 17 moms I know from playgroup who happen to be in the park.

Back to the skirts. With all this hype and my sudden interest in both running and be cute while I run, a friend suggested that I give SkirtSports gear a try.

First, I love that SkirtSports was launched by Ironman Champion Nicole DeBoom, who designed and created her own running skirt for competitions. Wanting to expand her reach from the finish line to fitness fashion, DeBoom founded the company that now makes stylish workout clothing for female athletes (hey, that’s us!).

Second, the products really are fabulous. Skirt Sports sent me two running skirts to try in my early days of running and it was not long before I started doing laundry a lot more often so I could cycle back and forth between these two skirts with every workout. I now wear the GymGirl Ultra or ToughGirl Skirt nearly every time I run, walk, or even get my cardio in by doing a major housecleaning.

The ToughGirl Skirt has a slightly-flared tights with a skirt built over them. I love the sassy pink crush/black color combo and that the pant legs don’t drag behind my running shoes or pull across my thighs in an unflattering way. The skirt is short and sassy and still covers my backside nicely, while adding a layer over a protected pocket that fits a phone and iPod perfectly. The top of the skirt is not binding, which is nice when the workout heats up a bit. Because this skirt and pants combination looks so cute on and fits so well, I’ve gotten many compliments on it from women in the grocery store, when picking up my son from preschool, and from my belly dance teacher when I wore it to class one week.

A word to the warm: I felt overheated in the ToughGirl during a burst of summer weather this fall, so I recommend keeping it for cool weather or gyms that aren’t too steamy inside. ( Speaking of warm workouts, I will be tearing it up for 21 miles on the hills of California during a relay in May, so I am dreaming about keeping cool in this adorable dress. Dreaming…and hoping it can properly support my girls for that kind of event.)

As much as I cringe to spend more than twenty bucks on exercise gear other than shoes, I can sincerely say that this skirt at $90 is well worth the investment.

The GymGirl Ultra is a skirt over “built-in no-creep Shorties”, made of a meshy fabric that feels supportive but not too tight. The skirt is flirty and light-weight and falls at the perfect point on the thigh so that I feel like it reflects my personal style off the treadmill, not like I’d just put on a dowdy lycra apron. The GymGirl also has hidden, slim pockets that fit a surprising amount of stuff without looking bulky. At $60, it comes in several bright colors and classic black.

I’ve worn and washed these skirts many, many times over the past six months and they still look brand new, feel soft, and have retained their fit and shape.
My one big suggestion for the SkirtSports designers is to add a key clip. As a city dweller, I have to carry multiple keys and sometimes my car key and fob with me when I work out, so having a special spot for them is critical. Since I’ve upgraded to the iPhone, I no longer require a phone and an MP3 player, but there’s not much space left in the pockets for my keys or anything else with a smart phone in there.

So, please, Nicole DeBoom and the other smarty pants runny-skirty ladies of SkirtSports, give us some more pockets and a key ring! Then these babies will be perfect. Then I might just go from not ever wanting to wear anything else to work out in to absolutely NOT wearing anything other than these running skirts to work out in.

If $90 or even $60 is not in your budget, worry not. Target carries running skirts by Champion in the $15 to $20 range. My guess is that they don’t have as many bells and whistles of some of the spendier brands, but they may fit your workout perfectly. They may also be great to use on your lighter or lower impact exercise days or for strength training or stretching when you don’t demand as much from your clothing. In my experience, Champion products tend to bleed, so I suggest you hand wash them in salty water and rinse thoroughly before your wear them (especially over a favorite bra or with a tee you love).

Do you need your workout wear to be styley? What are your requirements of the clothing you run in?