How To Choose The Perfect Race Day Outfit

The countdown is on. There you are, just days (OK possibly weeks) away from race day. 

race day countdown

You find yourself religiously refreshing your weather app. 

And you're losing sleep over finding the perfect race day outfit that will make you look and feel strong as hell.

dont know what to wear.gif

SOUND FAMILIAR? 

Of course, it does! That's because the race day outfit struggle is real!

The day before my first marathon, I spent the ENTIRE day driving around San Diego trying to find a race day outfit that made me look like I could run a marathon.

I was terrified! 

Terrified that I wasn't ready.

Terrified that I wouldn't make it to the finish line.

And terrified that someone would turn to me before the race started and tell me that I didn't look like I could run a marathon. 

I had a really hard time finding running clothes that I felt comfortable in. Whenever I tried to work up the courage to go into a store to try the intimidating spandex on, I'd panic the second a store associate asked me if I needed help finding anything. I was so insecure about not feeling like I looked like a runner that I couldn't bring myself to ask for help.

So I wore two sports bras and landed on this obnoxious number that I figured would help my parents find me during the race.

race day outfit

My parents could have located me from space.  

It sounds trivial but the truth is, choosing a race day outfit isn't easy. So, to help ease your nevers, here are six rules to consider when you're trying to find the perfect race day outfit.

Rule #1. Wear something that makes you feel comfortable and empowered. 

There's no such thing as a runner dress code. None. The reason I spent the day before my first marathon driving around trying to find an outfit that made me feel like I belonged was because I was insecure. As long as you feel strong, comfortable and empowered in your race day outfit, that's all that matters.  

Spandos!

Spandos!

MY suggestion: Oiselle SpandosPRO: They're super light and comfortable and I love a fun print for race day. Con: They don't have pockets.

Rule #2. It's not ideal to wear something new. 

Look, I ran the Berlin marathon in a brand new sports bra and chafed like I've never chafed before. Do I regret it? Not really. Sure, I could have saved myself a traumatizing post-race shower by wearing a sports bra I knew was trustworthy but the truth is, I say if you're excited about rocking something new, go for it. IDEALLY, try to get 1-2 test runs/long runs in your race day outfit. Otherwise, you do you! (Just bring some vaseline or be ready to reach for it during the race if you're rocking something new.)

I wasn't kidding. This was my shirt after the marathon. #ThereWillBeBlood.

I wasn't kidding. This was my shirt after the marathon. #ThereWillBeBlood.

My suggestion: 2skin. It's anti-chafe gel. It's not perfect, but it's the best product I've found yet.

Rule #3. Wear your tried and true sports bra. 

Piggybacking off of that Berlin chafing story, we all have a tried and true sports bra. (If you're still wearing two sports bras, GO GET A BETTER SPORTS BRA! STOP WEARING TWO!) Build your race day outfit around your trusted sports bra. If you find yourself reaching for a shirt that fits awkwardly with your sports bras straps, choose a different shirt. Sports bra first, everything else second. 

Note the KT tape under the boob line. PRO TIP ladies with larger boobs. Works like a dream.

Note the KT tape under the boob line. PRO TIP ladies with larger boobs. Works like a dream.

My suggestion: My favorite sports bra is the gifted verrazano. I love it. I love it. I love it. Yes, I am sponsored by Oiselle but that is my honest opinion. I have never found a sports bra I like more than the gifted verrazano. AND, look at all that space to write fun things like your name or to advertise that you're single!

Rule #4. Bring layers and don't be afraid to leave them behind. 

When you're looking at the weather the day before a race, add 10 degrees to whatever the temperature is going to be the morning of the race. Then, either reach for layers that you aren't afraid to part with or head to Goodwill and grab something there. It's always better to shed layers than it is to suffer through a race freezing your butt off. 

Kelly Roberts weather

My suggestion: If you're worried about being cold, go for a flyte long sleeve, gloves, and earband that covers your ears. During the NYC Half 2017, it was 40 degrees and I thought I'd be cold. I ended up ditching my flyte long sleeve because I was so hot. I ended up tying it around my waist and everything was fine.

Rule #5. Shorts vs. tights.

DO WHAT YOU DID IN TRAINING. This is probably the only exception where I'll say don't wear new shorts if you're worried about your thighs rubbing together. Afraid you'll be too hot? Go capris and #SportsBraSquad!

You know your body. If you run hot, the less clothing the better. If you don't think the weather will be an issue, then wear what you feel comfortable in.

Strider shorts for life.

Strider shorts for life.

My suggestion: Looking for a pair of shorts that won't rub you raw? Try the Oiselle strider shorts. And if you're looking for my favorite pair of leggings ever, Oiselle aero tights. When the weather cools down, I literally don't take them off.

Rule #6. To bring your own fuel or not to bring your own fuel.

Depends on the race. If the race offers sports drink and water that you're comfortable with, leave the water bottles at home. Not a fan of the energy gel on the course? Bring your own. I always bring my own. Just remember that you need somewhere to put them! (My first marathon, I didn't know how to fuel. I not only brought 15 energy gels with me, but I kept them between my two sports bras. 

See that lumpy sports bra? Those are energy gels.

See that lumpy sports bra? Those are energy gels.

My suggestion: Get a Spi-Belt. Out of all the belts to keep your phone and gels in, it's my favorite.

Otherwise, don't lose sleep over what you're going to wear. The best race day outfit is the one you don't have to worry about. But as long as it makes you feel confident, that's all that matters.

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Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.