Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Running ain't no fashion show

Anyone who can run has the right to run - that much we all agree on. But once you actually start running, it very quickly becomes a competition - not only in fitness but in fashion as well. Women have their athletic, vented tops and hip-hugging shorts, men have the "I'm in super shape" shorts and the arm-revealing shirts. Some of these are not merely clothes, they are outfits, pre-planned running ensembles.

I say to hell with all that. My summer wardrobe is pretty minimal - I think I'm down to one pair of black shorts and a beige "New England" pair that I can't really fit in. I have one pair of sneakers, so those come too.

Which brings me to the crux of this entry: my decision to run shirtless. In the pageantry of modern running, there is one rule that trumps all others - if you're a guy, you must be in ridiculously good shape to run with your shirt off. You must be able to open a beer bottle with your abs. Your chest must be hairless and ripped. Your arms should have more ridges than... I don't know... Tom Ridge's family reunion.

As elitist as I am culturally (more foreign films, please!) I am am also a populist when it comes to some things, and having the freedom to not be in fantastic shape is one of them. So when I ran this evening from my abode in Arlington across the Potomac towards the Lincoln Memorial, a common running path in my area, I broke all the running stereotypes: I, a non-athletic specimen, ran sans shirt. Imagine it: I am not buff. I have a respectable mini-paunch that befits a 32-year-old. I may have a degree of Semitic "shag" on my upper torso. And I may have a surgical scar or two that knocks me even further from pedestalistic perfection.

But that's OK. On that road, huffing and puffing, I have as much right to be there as the ultra-marathoners and the Iron Men / Women. For those moments, shirtless in the afternoon sun, a much-needed sweat releasing itself from my pores, I feel more God than man.

And hot damn, is this God sexy or what?


shesthesheriff said...

Tom Ridges family reunion. Love it--that and the manwich line could be on Colbert.

Yeah I hate running outfits. Aerodynamics my ass. As if you might miss some golden opportunity to rail some hot chick because you were wearing your stained 'foxy lady' or 'pats 1996 afc champs' tee instead of your platinum-bismuth dual tone (yeah you heard what I said) under armor tank top.

Jonathan Rubin said...

Or my Maggie Simpson T-shirt

shesthesheriff said...

Wait, did you steal my maggie simpson shirt whilst sleeping on my couch?

Jess said...

My race outfits are meticulously planned. If people are going to be taking my picture when I'm running, I've got to look good. (Haha and now I sound supremely shallow). And we all know Under Armour is my race day gear of choice.

It would have to be like 100+ degrees before I go the sports bra and shorts route. More power to you ignoring the rules of "running fashion"

Zeyev said...

When I first joined my running club way back in the 80's, anyone who showed up in an "outfit" was hounded mercilessly. In jest, of course. Nearly.

Alas, we have now become mundane and mainstream and most people show up with matching socks and all that sort of idiotic stuff.