A while back I had a conversation about some of you about running skirts and how I was somewhat apprehensive to wear them because of the reaction that other people might have. Specifically, I didn't want people to not take me seriously as an athlete, which was the impression I felt some people would have. I find them very comfortable however, without the issue of riding up as shorts have a tendancy to do. I also like the thicker elastic band the skirt has, as opposed to the more narrow band that bunches that you find in most running shorts.
Apparantly I am not the only one that has experienced this dilemma. I was happy to see a picture of a woman running in a skirt on July's cover of Runner's World and an entire article written on the rise of the skirt culture amongst female runners. The article accurately reflected my thoughts on wearing skirts as well as the overall experience of being a female athlete. Being an athlete is great but you don't always feel pretty or feminine when you are drenched in sweat, red-faced with a hat pulled over your head. You feel good about what you have done but not so much cute.
The inventor of the running skirt, a triathelte named Nicole DeBoom felt the same way. On a training run in December 2003, Nicole jogged along, desperately wishing for a little inspiration to help her through what felt like her millionth workout of her triathlon career. As she glanced at her reflection in a store window, she realized something was missing. It wasn't the performance in her apparel. It was the attitude. So she began designing and selling running skirts. Just like the right song coming on your ipod when you are half way up a grueling and unrelenting hill can give you a much needed boost, so too can having the right clothes on. Function is always whats most important when it comes to workout attire but once you got that covered you want to look good too!
The Runner's World article also discussed the negative stereotype that some people have about women who run in skirts:
"They seem to think that women who run in skirts aren't serious athletes. Or that they'll turn our beloved sport into a beauty pageant. The same people probably insist that women need to be in pantsuits to be taken seriously in the workplace. But I believe that a woman is even more powerful when she feels pretty. Besides, from a practical standpoint, it's nice to have clothing that reflects our multitasking lives; it performs on the track and looks presentable when you roll directly into the supermarket or elementary school."
I recently had an experience where I was wearing my skirt and walking to warm up. I had my ipod on but it was a quiet part of the song so I could hear what was being said around me. Two girls ran by me I could hear one of them scoff at my skirt and say something to the effect of it being a ridiculous thing to wear. Oh no she didnt! I finished my warm up and started my run very much looking forward to seeing them again. And seeing them again I did a little ways up the trail, blowing past them with my skirt swishing behind me. Ok I admit I was running a little faster than normal but I had a point to make. I am wearing a skirt and I am stronger than you and dont you forget it! In case you are blind and havent noticed this before, I have a lot of pride when it comes to my athletic abilities and I get annoyed when people disregard that or don't acknowledge how hard I work for it.
Part of the stigma that I find around Fresno comes from the fact that Fresno is not a big running city like Austin or SF where they have a multiude of really great trails to run and plenty of people out there running them. People here dont see skirts very much so they dont get it when they see it. Is she running home from a tennis match?? At the race this weekend there were a good number of women wearing them though and people didnt look twice. I just found it very interesting how people either love them or hate them and the reasoning for why. Your physical appearance is somewhat irrelevant when you are running but if I feel good about how I look I am going to run a little longer, maybe a little faster, and enjoy myself more. I am comfortable and feel a little sassy when I run in my skirt and for anyone who thinks I am not an athlete, well they can just be wrong. I am ok with that.