Spring Cleaning for Runners: What to Do with Those Excessive Shirts, Medals, and Gels

Finally! Spring is here! (Photo credit: promanex)

Maybe it’s the warm weather teasers or the fact that I’m starting the nesting phase of pregnancy,  but I’ve been hit with spring cleaning fever. We’ve been purging out our spare bedroom to make it nursery ready and slowly reogranizing the garage to make more space. It feels SO good to just get RID of excess. I got to thinking about the excess running swag that is disorganized and sporadically placed around our 1,000 square foot townhome, and I realized that something has to be done!

So today the infamously disorganized Ginkgo is going to give advice about spring cleaning for your running stuff.

I recently finished reading Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, where she cuts back on excessive behaviors related to possessions, food, stress, and even clothes in a snarky yet inspiring fashion. Though I don’t think I could go as far as she did – giving up all her clothes but seven garments for an entire month; giving up social media; and only eating seven types of food (I don’t think my current bun in the oven would like that much) – There are definitely some areas in my life where I can cut back! Downsizing my running possessions, or at least organizing them, just happens to be one of those areas.

I used to think running only took a pair of running shoes, a sports bra, shorts and a tee, but then I realized the sport brings with it many things:  new and expensive apparel for each season; medals or plaques from road races; goodie bags; bibs; race t-shirts; GU packets and salt pills; the list goes on. And when you started this whole running gig at the age of 12, well, it really adds up. Right now my medals are sitting in a blob on my kitchen counter or randomly thrown in my car glove compartment, my goodies bags are stashed away under the bed with expired coupons, my bibs are somewhere in the laundry room with safety pins still intact from when I rip them off after I get home from racing to rush into that hot shower, and my race t-shirts are taking up three entire dresser drawers in addition to a large storage container. It’s really gotten out of hand.


Look at this stinking cute medal display rack that I found on Etsy! I’m not sure how practical it would be since most of us probably have more than a few medals to hang, but you could always hang several on each hook, as long as it was secured tightly to the wall. You could even build your own to save on overhead and shipping costs. If you’re a Pinterest fan, there are plenty of similar ideas and options for you to explore.

Pinterest is the bomb.com for cutesy ideas like this! Hang your medals and customize the quote.
Pinterest is the bomb.com for cutesy ideas like this! Hang your medals and customize the quote.

Another idea: ditch the traditional christmas ornaments and use race medals instead. Play into the whole theme a little more and put your marathon training shoe in place of the star or angel topper!

Yea, this is creative!
Yea, this is creative! Another Pinterest WIN.



If you search on Etsy, there’s also a similar bib holder rack, where you can hang each on top of the other upon brass hooks. For me, I think I might hike over to the dollar store and pick up a photo album to stick them in. I might even go as far as organizing them by date or ‘genre’ (halfs, fulls, 10ks). When I’m 80, it might be cool to show this to show to my grandkids as bragging rights for all the races I did in the good ole days. Another idea would be to get a large plexi glass frame and make a collage; could be cute for a recreation/exercise room for constant motivation to keep adding to the collection.

Sold on Etsy.
Sold on Etsy.

Spike Bags:

Did you know those cheapie drawstring backpacks are supposed to be for spikes? Yeah, I don’t use them for that either! But they are useful. I’m guilty of just stashing them under my bed or wherever is convenient at the time. Most can be used as reusable grocery bags and I’ve converted a few into ‘doggie’ bags to keep our weimaraners leashes, collars, toys, etc. somewhat organized.

Race Tees:

These are a source of a constant battle in my brain! I rationally realize I don’t need all 50 race shirts, but I emotionally just can seem to part with them. I also realize that I only alternate wearing 5 of those 50 t-shirts to go on my daily runs. Most are too big, kinda ugly or just plain old, but I just can’t…they all mean something, represent something…I’m sappy. I’ve always seen this nifty little t-shirt quilts where you can still hold onto the sentiment of the fabric, but they are no longer occupying 70% of your drawer space. It’s a win-win! Only problem, the most well-known creator of said quilts – campus quilts – charges $249.00 for a 25-shirt sucker! UGH. Any salties out there good at sewing and want to start a business?

Make your shirts into a cozy quilt and relish in the memories! Source: http://www.tshirtquilt.com/tshirtquiltsamples.htm
Make your shirts into a cozy quilt and relish in the memories!
Source: http://www.tshirtquilt.com/tshirtquiltsamples.htm

So, there you have it. Organizing your running crap in a nutshell.

What organizing techniques have you used to clean up your running ‘garb’? Are you a t-shirt hoarder? Do you proudly display your medals and plaques or put them in a box under the bed, never to be seen again? We’d love to hear your spring cleaning plans!

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I'm a new momma, full-time non-profiter, and coffee lover. I write about healthy body image, half marathon training, and recovery from eating disorders. I'm currently training to maintain fitness throughout the winter and break 1:27:00 in my next half marathon.

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  1. Hey Erin! I should really invest in a sewing machine! With a little one on the way, I’d love to be able to become more domestic, maybe even make his first Halloween costume this October! Thanks for the heads up about instructions being posted on YouTube. I’ll have to check it out!

    1. Yes! Get the machine. You will have a few fails, I’m sure, but mostly sewing blankets and costumes is not that difficult. I can’t follow a pattern for the life of me, but can sew simple things and it is very satisfying. Also, when you see your little one walking around the house with the lovey that you made, it’s better than a BQ. Well, maybe. I’ve never BQed.

  2. I so hear you about things being strewn about! Story of my life.

    I love the donation idea and also the Christmas tree nostalgia…I think we might be starting a new tradition in the Sexton household.

  3. It is actually really, really easy to make a quilt out of shirts. A cheapie sewing machine and you’re good. Seriously. My machine cost $80 and is still going strong a few years later. I’ve made several quilts with only youtube as instruction. Easy sewing projects are a great stress relief. Give it a go!

  4. My husband and I started a “Running Tree” to go along with our Travel Tree and our old traditional Christmas tree. We remove the ribbons from the medals and hand them on the tree. It is great fun each year getting medals out and reliving races. The downside is, we find ourselves entering races based on how we think the medal will look on the tree! I donate my non-tech tees to a local elementary school, where they use them for kids who need clothes, and we also donate extra race bags to elementary schools where they are given to kids who do not have backpacks.

  5. I started running two years ago, and I already accumulated a lot of crap! My race shirts come in handy, though, since I never need to buy tech tees again. My other stuff is strewn about everywhere. I’m not a very organized person!