Monday, February 17, 2014

Running Apparel Season is Upon Us

Today, my special someone signed up for the Robie Creek half marathon (he's much more hardcore than me), and I signed up for the Idaho Potato Half Marathon, which I did last year, and for which I'm hoping for a PR (that's personal record, for all you non-racers out there). I've been doing a lot more weight training this winter, and the extra strength combined with greater lung capacity (Why did I wait so long to get my asthma under control?) has enabled me to get to a sub-10-minute mile without too much effort. I feel good already and I haven't even started training yet.

All this working out gets me thinking often about my workout attire. I consider my body to be in the Fit Fertility Goddess category - solidly a size medium, with healthy curves that are only accentuated by muscle tone.  Tons of workout clothes are made for women who are petite, are athletes, or are just naturally thin. These women can wear short shorts, small tank tops, sports bras that aren't padded or super-reinforced, and any kind of spandex their hearts desire. We fit fertility goddesses cannot wear these types of clothes, and unfortunately, the athletic-wear companies generally just make clothes bigger to fit the curvy and the full-figured among us. But while making the same styles in larger sizes may work for some women, sadly, that is not the answer for us active curvy girls with hourglass figures, because we're not bigger all over. Our hormones have blessed us with bodies made for birthing babies and raising children, but we're fit and toned because we're runners, cyclists, weight-lifters, rock climbers, yoga practitioners, dancers, skiers, hikers, and snowshoers. We may have shoulders, mid-torsos, knees, and ankles that fit into a size small, but our 32/34/36-D/DD breasts and our 40/42/44-inch hips definitely do not. However, we're also generally not a size large, except for some smaller-cut pants and shorts (I'm looking at you, Columbia Sportswear. Some of us actually have hips and butts, you know.) We struggle with pants that fit either the waist or the butt, but not both, and tops that make us look either slutty (too tight in the chest) or frumpy (too big all over). We need:
  • sports bras that provide serious support without smooshing the girls and aren't bulky, that wick away a ton of sweat, and that don't chafe on the shoulders, ribs, or under-boob. Our girls may be ample, but we're proportionately smaller around the ribs, and we need a bra that will stay put despite all the bouncing.  
  • spandex that supports and compresses, hides panty lines and cellulite, and doesn't create cameltoe. Spandex and similar blends are light and stretchy, and even though they're not the most flattering fabrics, for those brave enough to wear them, we need them to be highly functional and as flattering as possible. That means wider waistbands, dark colors, and appropriately placed seams and panels that flatter curves and don't chafe. And, it bears repeating, no cameltoe.
  • lightweight shorts and skorts in lengths that extend beyond our saddlebags and inner-thigh bulges, but not all the way to our knees, and that don't ride up at all when we walk, run, or jump. We will never have a thigh gap, and anti-chafing gels and creams are not sufficient solutions to inner-thigh rashes and irritation. Neither is wearing spandex shorts under nylon shorts, which is just not an option on a hot summer day.
  • warm-up and hiking pants made of a material with some stretch and some structure, with wider waistbands, options for adjusting the waist, and a wider cut in the hips that tapers slightly from mid-thigh or knee to the ankle. Pants that are the same width from the widest part of the hips all the way to the ankles make curvy women look frumpy. Pants should be flexible and comfortable, but not too flowy or too clingy. And again, no cameltoe.
  • longer tops in lightweight wicking material. Our extra padding means more movement, higher core temperatures for some, and thus more sweating. Shirts that come down to the hips, with sleeves that are cut wider and a little longer, are more flattering and won't ride up as much. Tank tops with wider straps and higher necklines cover up larger sports bras and provide more modesty and style. All tops should be cut to provide more room in the chest and hips, while tapering in the middle to flatter the waistline. This goes for coats and jackets, too.
  • some kind of waist or hip belt for water bottles that stays securely and doesn't ride up. When a curvy woman puts a hip belt on and goes for a run, the belt quickly rides up to the narrowest part of the body, which for fit fertility goddesses is often right below the breasts. Fastening the belt securely at the natural waistline can look funny and isn't terribly comfortable. Backpacks and hand-held water bottles can work, but they're not the preferable solution. There must be a better lightweight way to carry water on long walks or runs. 
  • socks and shoes that withstand and absorb greater impact force and prevent over-pronation. Curvy women are harder on their hiking and running shoes because they're heavier, and the greater angle from the hips to the ankles can lead to all kinds of hip, knee, ankle, and foot problems. We need socks and shoes that provide proper foot and ankle position, support and disperse the extra force, and last longer despite the extra beating we give them. 
Maybe in my next life, when I have greater financial resources at my disposal, I will make athletic apparel for fit fertility goddesses. We sort of get ignored, in between the natural athletes and the much-fuller-figured women, and that makes it really frustrating to be the badass chicks we know we are.