How to Trail Run

Trail running is something I’ve been wanting to take up and do more of. For the last several years, I’ve lived a thirty to forty-five minute drive to the good trails in my nook of Colorado. It was a lot of effort that took way too much time; get up super early, dress, eat, drive forever, get at least an hour run in, drive home. That’s half the morning gone! I should have tried harder.

But now that I’m moving to a rural area of the mountains and will be doing all my training runs in my new neighborhood of hilly (understatement) dirt roads and U.S. Forest Service trails, I knew I needed to learn how run safely in the high country. It just so happened that my favorite local running store/brew pub (yes, you read that right), Shoes & Brews, was hosting a trail running clinic with Salomon Running. PERFECT. It was providence for sure!

My new neighbor, Mt. Meeker the Fourteener!

I’m so glad I went. It was helpful and informative, and it took some of the fear out of trail running for me. Here are some of the things I learned. Thanks, Salomon!

  1. Stay Upright Leaning forward constricts your airflow, so keep your torso upright and your head up despite the urge to lean into the hill.
  2. Stay on Your Toes Forget the heel strike. Staying on your toes makes you more agile through the rocks and other trail obstacles.
  3. Run on the Rocks If the trail is dry, go for solid surfaces over loose gravel when possible
  4. Run In The Water Don’t be afraid to run in the rivulets because there’s more loose sediment in wet conditions for your shoes to grip. In wet conditions, rocks can be slippery.
  5. Look Ahead Look 2-4 steps ahead of you to see where to step safely. Your brain can remember up to about 4 steps so stay safe by staying focused of your footfalls.
  6. Hip to Nip Move your arms like you normally would making sure they arc from your hip to your nip.
  7. Power Hike I didn’t know what this was until the clinic. It’s hard to explain, so go check out this great explanation from The Long Run
  8. Flail Like a Fool Flailing arms downhill is totally acceptable. No one will judge you for keeping your balance and not falling!
  9. Slow it Down Walking during trail running is a-okay! Even the pro who was with us, Courtney Dauwalter (who just broke a record for running 155 miles on a track in 24 hours) said so! It’s okay, really!
  10. What Goes Up On the downhill, lean forward a little to let gravity help you, but no so much you fall forward easily.
  11. Baby Steps Take smaller steps if you feel like you’re going too fast

Here’s Ester from Salomon with more tips

 

The trail we did was not for beginners, but it was a fun time and I met another Skirt Sports Ambassador, Becky! Making new friends is always fun, too.

Skirt Sisters!

The group at the top

It’s safe to say that I’m hooked. I’ve been posting gorgeous shots of my recent trail escapades on our Instagram all week. I cannot wait to get out there again this weekend and run where I play!

 

Do you run trails? Where do you run? What’s your biggest piece of advice for beginners? Share it all with me, I’m in desperate need of wisdom!

Race Recap: Denver Broncos Back to Football 7K

Something weird happened over the last few years. I started wearing more orange. I began paying attention when my husband was watching our local NFL team games. I found myself yelling at the refs for making shit calls against our guys, and screaming for joy when they won. Somehow, I became a football fan. You may have heard of my team, they won the Superbowl last year.

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My new Broncos hat. I can’t wait until it’s cold enough to wear!

My family is just as mystified as I am at this development. It’s something I can’t explain or  make sense of myself. But, it’s happened, and so when I found out that the Broncos host a 7k (all hail John Elway) AND that the medal is pretty sweet, I invited a bunch of friends to join my team, the Happy Hoofers!

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We’ve got our bibs!

Waiting in our corral with a ton of other fans in the shadow of the storied Mile High Stadium was definitely a unique experience. We were #UnitedinOrange! It took a while for our corral to go as they were releasing waves every five minutes. We waited over an hour to start and were already pretty hot and thirsty by the time we got going at 9:30-ish. Still, we were excited to be part of the energy.start Collage

When we got the the first water station at mile 1, we were so happy! Until we were so sad. They had run out of cups, and we didn’t have bottles with us. We’d have to wait until mile 3.something for the next aid station. We really hoped they had cups! The course took us through the old Victorian neighborhood that surrounds Sports Authority Field (us natives will always and forever call it Mile High Stadium). I was too thirsty to get pictures. :-p Then we did a half circle along Sloans Lake before turning back toward the stadium to run onto the field!

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Running into the stadium through the Bronco head and being on the jumbotron was awesome but I wish they’d let us snap a few photos before they pushed us through. How often do I get to be on the 50 yard line of my teams home field. NEVER. That’s how often.

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Me and my sister on the JumboTron!

 

My goal with this race was to get some folks who might not ever consider “running” a race to try it out. I think for those who have never been to any kind of running race have preconceived notions about what level of fitness you need to participate, and how far a 5k (or 7k) really is. My friends where surprised that it wasn’t quite what they expected and they had more fun than they thought they would. Once folks realize they can do it at a pace they are comfortable with, they enjoy it. Not everyone has to be fast!

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They’re real!

I’m not sure I’ll do this one again. As much as I love my team, I felt the race organization could be better. The race didn’t start until 8:30 so it was pretty warm and it took quite a while for us to start. Not to mention, the water station ran out of cups before all the runners had left their corrals, and I saw far too many people cutting the course and cheating. It’s 4.3 miles for Pete’s sake, does one really need to cheat???  I call shenanigans!

It was a success, though, because my group tried something out of their comfort zone and they had fun! They are all so proud of their medals and of themselves! My sister-in-law had such a good time, she’s already signed up for a Christmas 5k, and I hope this is the start of a new hobby for her. I couldn’t be more proud of her! Kudos, Toni!! <3

All photos courtesy of my wonderful husband. Thanks, Honey!

 

What Fall races do you have planned? Who’s your team? I want to know below!

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I’m That Girl You Love to Hate

I want you all to know that this post is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to write. Trust me, that’s saying a lot. As an aspiring fiction writer, I’ve written some things that are definitely NSFW or children. Stuff that makes seasoned writers squirm uncomfortably in their desk chairs. I want you to know that this post was way, way harder than any horror scene I’ve ever written.

Today, I’m writing about skinny shaming, and about the fact that skinny shaming is real,  and it’s hurtful. I first wanted to write about skinny shaming when I joined Scoot a Doot in November of 2014. I wussed out, and wrote “The Lies They Tell Us” instead.  Then I went to FitBloggin 2015 in June, and they had a discussion titled Finding the Medium Between XS & XL, Exploring the Controversy Between Fat & Skinny Shaming. In a room filled with people who had struggled with varying degrees of obesity, I stood up and said something that was received with mixed reactions. I asked them to please stop shaming the skinny people for being skinny. There was one other woman there that could identify with what I was saying, and after the lecture, several people came up to me to thank me for sharing because they hadn’t seen the body shaming issue from the other point of view. That fanned my courage to write this post, and I hope it helps folks understand what skinny shaming means and how hurtful it can be.

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As a “skinny” girl, you may feel as though I’m speaking from a place of privilege. I understand how it might be perceived that way. All this time I’ve been writing for Scoot, I’ve tried to play down my body image struggles because honestly, I don’t have any. I feel like a jerk for putting that out into the universe because I don’t want it to seem like I’m lording it over anyone, or worse, complaining about the genes I’m fortunate to have. But here is the thing that sucks; I’m that girl everyone one loves to hate.  I’m guilty of a cardinal genetic sin; I’m naturally thin, and it’s taboo for me to talk about it.

You might be thinking “rub it in our face, Jenn, thanks a lot.” I get that. I really, really do. Hence why I generally follow the taboo and try not to talk about my body on the blog. I try to be sensitive to the feelings and situations of folks who have the opposite experience that I do. My best friend of twenty years has struggled with obesity her whole life and I’ve seen the other side of the coin through her eyes. The thing is though, it’s about genes. And we encourage a double standard when we talk about weight.

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A double standard, you say? I know it’s hard to believe or understand immediately. The reason us thin folk don’t talk about it is because we’re terrified that we’ll be perceived as complaining about being skinny, or speaking from that place of privilege, and will therefore be labeled as conceited and shallow. Complaining about being skinny would be incredibly insensitive. I want to be very clear, I’m not complaining about my body, only the double standard that accompanies it. Allow me to elaborate on what I mean by double standard.

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We all acknowledge and understand that it’s not cool to shame people for being overweight. Of course that is the absolutely right way to behave, I’m definitely not suggesting anything to the contrary. But, and this is a BIG but, we shame skinny people all the time without a thought. How is that possible? I’ve listed a few examples taken from my own experiences.

I would never say to someone “Do you really think you should eat that? You have a lot of weight to lose.” Yet, people think it’s okay to tell me: “Don’t you think you should eat more? You’re soooo thin.”

It is in no way acceptable to say to someone, “You’re so fat! Do you have a gland/genetic/health problem?” Yet people have commented to me “You’re so thin! Are you anorexic/bulimic?”

I would never say to a stranger, “Oh my gosh, you’re so fat. You must eat all the time!” Yet I can’t count how many times a complete stranger has told me, “Wow! You’re so tiny! You must never eat!”

The last time someone said that to me, I was so hurt and tired of the same old snarky commentary disguised as a backhanded compliment that I did something  I still feel a tiny bit bad about. I was at a greasy spoon truck stop and I ordered the chicken fried steak, eggs, hash browns, and pancakes. And I. ATE. IT. ALL. Right in front of her, the snarkey commentator. And I mmmm-mmm’ed and yummm-yummed all over that shiz. I didn’t feel one bit sorry as she watched me stuff my face with gravy covered goodness, proving that I can eat like a lumberjack when I want to.

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For many years, I’ve scratched my head, trying to figure out what the impetus is for these feelings and comments.  I can’t help the way I look any more than any of us can. Sure, we could all be firmer here and there, but we’re born with our body type. It may sound ridiculous, but I’m convinced my body type has kept me for forming friendships because I’m judged before I even open my mouth. I base this conclusion on comments from newly formed acquaintances that never evolved into anything more. Here’s a sampling:

“You are SO SKINNY. OMG I hate you.”

“You can fit in to that? I hate you.”

“You wear a bikini? I hate you.”

“You don’t wear Spanx?! I hate you.”

“Your wrists are SO TINY. I hate you. ”

“Your wedding gown is a size zero?! I hate you,” said the woman who altered my gown. She must have been in her sixties, and she still found room in her heart to be jealous of my then 26 year-old figure. Really.

And my favorite; “OMG, you’re so skinny. I have to hate you and we can’t be friends.” I wish I were kidding. I am not. A woman actually said that to me when we were introduced.

“I hate you” is always tacked on with a fake smile and self-depreciating hand gesture, but I know what’s really being said. In that moment, they really do hate me for my genetics; something I have NO control over, and trust me, it does color their perception of me. They prove it by ignoring me and choosing not to interact with me or talk to me. So if we can’t be friends because of something I can’t control, then does that mean I’m supposed to end my friendship with my BFF because she struggles with something she can’t control, being over weight?

Methinks not.

The “I hate you” comment is especially mean because it basically translates to “you disgust me”. You disgust me because you have something I don’t. You disgust me because you have something I want. You disgust me because I feel shitty about myself. You disgust me because being seen with you makes me feel shittier about myself.

Do you see the huge, glaring double standard here? And speaking of double standards, bear in mind that if you magically attain a perfect figure a la Sofia Vergara, it still won’t be good enough. When it comes to weight, you’re damned either way. Sorry to dash your hopes of body acceptance. There will always be someone who will say something to tear you down.

Make this your mantra during these encounters.

This is my mantra during these encounters.

Case in point, I have another friend who is gorgeous and in-shape and she hears it too. Other women telling her they hate her, telling her to eat more, or that she is “so perfect.” The problem is she has to work her ASS OFF to stay thin and fit. She can’t eat whatever she wants. She hasn’t always fit into a size 4. The most infuriating thing she hears is “why do you work out, you’re so thin!” It never seems to dawn on anyone that she’s thin because she works out. Not to mention, can’t she just work out to be healthyWhy does it always have to be about vanity?

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The “real women have curves”, “no one wants to cuddle with a stick”, and “I’d rather be curvy than look like a little boy” memes floating around out there aren’t doing anything for anyone’s self esteem.  It’s another example of bashing one side to make the other feel better.  I feel horrible for young girls and women who are struggling to accept themselves and their own bodies. What kind of mixed messages are we CONSTANTLY sending? Don’t be fat, but don’t be thin!  We all know the answer is to love yourself, for yourself. That’s the message we need to see more of, but try telling that to an eleven year old young lady and convincing her to truly believe it.

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In a perfect world, we would all accept ourselves first, others second, and then focus on building each other up instead of tearing each other down. Being that this is a fitness blog and you are here because you have an interest in being fit and healthy, I’m willing to bet the farm you’ve been on the receiving end of similar body shaming comments and prejudices from every sector of the spectrum. I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear from you if you think what I’m saying is nonsense. Let’s have some dialogue to understand this behavior better. And then let’s be the change that’s needed!

 

Share your body shaming story with me in the comments. I really would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on all aspects of this issue!

Races are Coming, And We are Looking CUTE

Race season is upon us. Depending on where you live, it closer for some of us than for others. It’s snowing where I am in Boulder today, so race season is still a little ways away for me. Still, I’m betting many of us are launching into race training and nutrition, and maybe, just maybe planning our race outfits. Or costumes. We know how it is.

The next big race on my calendar is the Skirt Sports 13er on June 12th, and I’d really love some company. You should totally consider running this race with me. I promise, I’m super fun to run with; I dance, I don’t take it too seriously, and it’s really, really pretty here. Plus, there is amazingly yummy gluten free CAKE at the finish. CAKE, PEOPLE. Oooh, ooh, AND I have a discount code! SkirtBrand15 gets you 15% off race registration for the 13er or the 5k. So really, you have no excuses. Gorgeous course + me dancing + cake = best race ever! You can register here.

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I’m three weeks in to my training program and 2 weeks into a YogaTone challenge at my yoga studio. Oh, my goodness what a butt kicker THAT is.  Think airplane pose with weights. And warrior II, with weights. And crescent lunge with, wait for it… Weights! It hurts SO GOOD the next day. I even learned this fantastic hip strengthening move using a 5 pound weight.

I’ve also been testing out some new running gear. I wore Skirt Sports’ new mesh backed Take Five Tank to hot yoga and it outlasted me. I’d forgotten just how hot hot yoga is. I’m going to have to work up to that again. Maybe not sitting in the room for 15 minutes before class would help too. I wonder…

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I’m super in love with this skirt in limited edition “psyched” print. I’ve worn it on the treadmill a few times, and to yoga once. My favorite thing about Skirt Sports skirts are the built in shorties with pockets on each thigh. The pockets hold my car key, phone, inhaler, ID and a little cash. They’re pretty perfect.

This print will go with EVERYTHING.

This print will go with EVERYTHING.

I’m ridiculously excited about my next order, a skirt that has race magnets BUILT IN. I cannot even wait to try that out! I think I have officially converted to skirt! If you want to try out some SS gear, this code gets you 20% off, even on sale items (of which there are many on the website right now).

 

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Let me know if you give them a try, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, PLEASE COME RUN WITH ME. Running alone is not too fun. I like fun. And if you can’t run with me, then tell me what you are running and who you’ll be running with this spring. Let the races commence!

 

The Discount Fine Print

20% discount can be applied to sale items and non-skirt gear, such as Flipbelt and Zensah

15% Race Discount Code expires when registration closes, Discounts NOT valid on race day, Codes not valid on virtual events.

Blogaversary Giveaway – We’re 3!

We love this time of year because we get to celebrate when it all started. And by all, I mean the silliness and fun and food and all the running. It started with the ladies below: Mer, Vic, Brooke, Cam, Jess, and Bec.

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We’ve been here for three years now, and some things have changed. For instance, we’ve run a lot of races and earned a lot of medals.

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We ran a lot of those races in costume. We really, REALLY like costumes. We might need an intervention.

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Most importantly, we’ve made some amazing friends and have been lucky enough to be a part of the best community in the world, the running community. You inspire us in so many ways, every day. You set your goal, you get out there, and you get it done. You push htrough pain, obstacles, and downward spirals in motivation, and yet you achieve and succeed. We are so proud of you because you. Are. Epic. Thank you for sharing your journeys with us.

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Because you’re so awesome, you deserve a present! We’ve put together a special prize package this year, including a medal rack handmade by yours truly, and some other fabulous stuff from brands we love to support.

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This year’s giveaway includes a custom made medal rack with bib holder and chalkboard, a pair of size S/M PROCompression Socks, a KatieK Active headband and $25 gift certificate, a pair of YakTrax PRO size Medium, a SkirtSports Workout tank size large, a  collectible Disney Vinylmation Mickey Figurine, and a Blistex lip care pack.

To enter, click the Rafflecopter Link below. Good luck!!

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Click here to enter!

The giveaway runs from 2/29/16 – 3/7/16 and is open to United States residents who live in the contiguous 48 states only. Winner will be notified by email on 3/7/16 and has 24 hours to claim their prize. If not claimed in 24 hours, another winner will be chosen. 

2016 SkirtSports Ambassador

My first experience with SkirtSports was last summer when I participated their 13er race event. It was a really fantastic women-only race on a gorgeous course where I got a 10k PR and made a few new friends. How can a race get any better than that? Oh yeah, CAKE. THAT’S HOW. Cake is always going to be the way to my heart.

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At that event, I met Noelle, SkirtSports’ Community Outreach head cheerleader. She told me about the monthly clinics and fun runs they hold at their Boulder headquarters and I decided to check it out. Lo and behold, they were a blast! They even let me Periscope a talk Dimity McDowell was giving.

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Before leaving that clinic, Noelle gave me one of their skirts to try out in exchange for an honest review.  I was already crushing hard on the vibe SkirtSports was giving off at their events, but the Lioness skirt turned my crush into full blown twitterpation. The quality was impeccable, and its smart construction and pockets, it definitely helped me get through my toughest half to date.

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So when I found out earlier this month that I had been chosen to be a 2016 Ambassador Captain for SkirtSports, I was over the moon. I’m learning that this is a fantastic group of inspiring women, and I’m honored to be among them. I am so excited to get to know them and learn their stories. That’s one reason why it was easy for me to put my name behind the SkirtSports brand. There were other reasons, too.

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The SkirtSports Message is all about supporting real, everyday women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds pursue and achieve their healthy living goals. Pro triathlete and founder Nicole DeBoom was inspired to start the company after noticing her reflection in a window on a training run. She decided  to find a way to offer flattering performance wear to support all women in being the best version of themselves.

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#REALwomenmove is a social media campaign intended to encourage each other in our fitness activities and achievements.  Who is a REAL woman?  She is proud of who she is. She is confident. She does not judge, but rather, encourages other women. She is comfortable in her own body. She accepts and loves herself as she is. She prioritizes health and fitness in her busy life.
This is a message I can get behind 1000%.

Running Start Program  is designed to pair beginner runners who face barriers to developing fitness goals with Personal Motivators who help them overcome those challenges. Personal Motivators are women who’ve also overcome obstacles to fitness in the past and can share their experience and support. Anyone can apply to join the program.

Photo Credit: SkirtSports Website

Photo Credit: SkirtSports Website

The Clothes are well made, well priced, and most importantly, adorable! They carry sizes XS to 22, and as a seamstress myself, I’m definitely impressed with the construction of their garments. The prints are super cute and colorful, and they make some of the most practical running clothes I’ve seen. Their phone pockets are a big hit with me, and they are working on the Gotta Go Skirt which will make life much easier for all of us on those long runs when nature calls. Seriously, they’re thinking of everything.

I’m beyond excited to be a part of this program for 2016 and to have the opportunity to share all the good things (and discount codes) with you. These ladies are doing amazing things and spreading an inspiring message of love and support of one another. I know we can all get behind that!

 

Are you a Skirt Sister? Who inspired you to start your running journey? What is one thing you try to do to support others at races? Let’s chat in the comments!

Road Tested – Skirt Sports Lioness Skirt

Today, I’m dishing on one of my favorite topics, clothing-slash-fashion-slash-cuteness. I firmly believe that your outfit sets your entire tone for your day, or your race. If you feel like you look good, your confidence naturally rises and you feel better able to meet whatever challenges you may face. It’s a philosophy shared by Skirt Sports, which is the main reason I signed right up when they offered me a skirt to try out. It’s called the Lioness, and it’s new this fall. This color is called “Razz”. Also? IT’S SUPER CUTE.

I love the pattern in the contrast fabric.

I love the pattern in the contrast fabric.

The back is as cute as the front!

The back is as cute as the front!

I only had one reservation about the skirt. After looking at their adorable clothing online, I was wondering about the price. I mean, the price is comparable to other companies making similar garments, but the seamstress in me always asks two things: can I make it myself (and then show you how to make it), and is the price fair given the quality of the garment? Is it made well? It is going to hold up over many races and washings and trips to the dog park?

After getting the skirt home and really inspecting its construction, I’m a firm believer that that price is worth every shinny  penny! It’s so nice to be able to say that!  I’m a stickler for quality construction, and I can’t tell you how often I shake my fist because the new shirt I bought two weeks ago already has a button missing. SkirtSports surprised me with the quality of the skirt. Their garments are made in Cambodia, and the skirt far surpassed items I’ve examined from other high-end athletic wear companies. It would cost me well above the retail cost of this skirt to make it myself when I factor in time and materials. I love it when you can get more than you pay for! Well done SkirtSports!

Encased elastic makes it much more comfy.

Encased elastic makes it much more comfy.

Rubber nubs keep the shorts in place on your leg without chaffing.

Rubber nubs keep the shorts in place on your leg without chaffing.

One of my favorite features is the pockets. There is a zippered waist pocket in the back and a side pocket on each leg of the shorties. The right pocket has a reinforced hole to feed your headphone wire through. This skirt had plenty of room for my key, ID, phone, earbuds, and my stupid inhaler. I still had room for an energy gel or two if needed. I would like the waist pocket to be a little bit bigger, but that’s just because it seems like I’m always carrying a lot of stuff. The other plus for me is the built in shorties with the silicone dot grippers.

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Now for the real test, wear-ability! I donned the outfit I want to wear for my second half marathon this coming Saturday. Head to toe: Headsweats visor (thanks Vic!), Champion running shirt, the most adorable running skirt ever, a slick pair of neon pink PRO Compression socks, and my New Balance kicks. I snapped a few goofy photos of which I’m required to share at least one, and I was off!

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I went for a 3 mile run in 90 degree heat. The skirt was so comfortable and cool. It held all my stuff and my stuff didn’t annoy me. The silicone grippers on the shorts kept them in place and I wasn’t constantly adjusting…anything. It was so great to not feel encumbered by a bunch of stuff because everything was in its place nice and snug and my hands and arms were free. FREEEE! I’m pretty sure I’ll be sporting this skirt at my race this weekend, and as I climb 400 feet in elevation over two and half miles, I’m hoping this skirt will make me feel as powerful as its namesake!

Do you prefer running skirts to shorts or pants? Do you have feelings about looking cute on the course? Do you wear make-up when running, or only when it’s part of the costume? Tell me all about it in the comments!

*Skirt Sports gave me this skirt to try for the purpose of reviewing it. No other compensation was given.