I F*ing Love Running Skirts

Raspberry wearing a sparkly green skirt uses power toolsSkirts: a sign of weakness, frilly and fussy femininity. Too long and they’re matronly. Too short and they’re slutty.

Worn during competitive sports? Pshaw. No serious athlete would ever wear a running skirt.

So what about stuntwoman Jessie Graff who became the first woman to complete Stage 1 in the American Ninja Warrior’s finals? In what appeared to be an effortless, badass feat, she wore a sparkly green skirt and bra inspired by the Green Lantern.

While most of the Internet cried “F yeah!”, some were less enthusiastic. They couldn’t get past her wardrobe: “Yeah, but her glitter green skirt is kinda ridiculous – why not just wear a regular sports bra and shorts?” Or they assumed she wore a skirt to be funny, which might be bolstered by the fact that she competed in a chicken suit – with a skirt – a few years before. But it doesn’t matter. You want to know why? 

Because I don’t care. I f’ing love running skirts. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Running should be about what our bodies can do, not about how they look. The worse you look, the more hardcore you are, right? F that. Frizzy hair, raccoon eyes and leg stubble aside, I want to look good when I run.

Don’t give me that garbage about how spandex is flattering. It’s easy for someone with 9% body fat to tell me it’s perfectly fine to run with only 10% of my body covered in a thin layer of lycra.

And don’t tell me that it’s just a matter of having the right mindset. How many people actually feel great running around in a glorified bathing suit or with shorts all bunched up in their crotch?

As Stephen Hawking has pointed out, women are life’s most intriguing mystery. We’re coy, demure enigmas – modest and sexy. With a skirt flirtily covering our derrieres, we keep this mystery alive. WHAT?! What a crock of horse sh*t. But we’re aware that many men think this way, so it’s extra fun to wear a skirt while we beat them.

imageYes, badasses like me wear skirts. Pimento is a badass, she wears them. The late great Sally Meyerhoff was an incredible athlete and a big proponent of the running skirt.

But I wear them for more than their irony. I have insecurities just like everybody else, and my thighs are the first thing I notice in race photos. I see chunk, wrinkles, and weakness, and I think to myself, “You don’t look like a runner.” Skirts hug me in all the right places, and when I look at myself in the mirror, I’m all about that bass. I feel good wearing them and when I feel good, I run better.

Besides their ability to flatter, skirts are more comfortable to me. I have f’ing strong legs, and most loose running shorts bunch or chafe. Bonus, is that when I wear a skirt, I can run knowing my running buddies are gawking at a layer of ruffles instead of my booty behind me. Double Bonus, that layer of modesty is also a layer of security in case of a mid-run bladder failure.

In the end, who cares what we wear while we run? We all run for different reasons: fun, competition, to be a role model, to prove something to ourselves or others, to find sanity. Whatever our reason, we pick the clothes that make us happy, make us fast, make us comfortable, or make us feel sexy AF. What does it matter whether we wear a pair of 10-year old well-worn beloved shorts, or a kick ass pink mini skirt? A badass in a skirt is still a badass, even a guy badass. Live and let live, I say. (Unless someone’s wearing a dress. You can totally make fun of a person wearing a running dress.) (Oh, and those plaid, collared hipster running shirts. Make fun of those, too!)

Do you wear running skirts? What side do you fall on the great running skirt debate?

A teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area who loves trail running, backpacking and cycling. Having grown up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, I secretly aspire to run Western States 100 someday. Realizing it might not be as crazy as it sounds (maybe it is), I am currently training for my next ultra.

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16 comments

  1. I hate running in shorts and usually just wear capris throughout the summer. The heat and humidity killed me this past summer. It was brutal. I never thought of a skirt! Any brands you’d recommend?

    1. My current favorite brand is Skirt Sports, founded by another running badass, Nicole DeBoom. They come in many different lengths and styles, but it’s the best brand I’ve found for compression shorts staying put underneath.

  2. Lest we forget, Serena Williams competes in a skirt. She may not be a runner, she is definitely a badass. A journalist asked about her being “one of the greatest female athletes of all time.”

    She replied: “I prefer the word ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time’.” #micdrop

  3. “if you feel good, you run better” – wise words. Women’s bodies and clothing choices are so judged no matter what, and not just by men – by each other – that the best solution is to *wear what works for you*. Seriously. There’s no judgment in running clothing. I haven’t found a skirt that works for me – too much flappy fabric. I love the heck out of my regular Rogas, but the short ones just lead to riding-up and thigh-chafing and sadness. But I will defend to the death your right to run in whatever the hell you please. (Ok, unless it’s compression tights and fuel belt at a 5k.)

    1. PS there’s also an argument in here about costume, performance, and psyching other people out (“I can’t believe I got beaten by a woman in a skirt!”), but I haven’t had enough coffee today to make it yet.

    2. Did I see they have now made a Roga skirt? My favorite skirt has a single fitted thin, light layer of fabric, but yes, I agree, sometimes there are excessive layers of fabric.

  4. LOVE my running skirts! I have several from Athlete, but my new favorites are from Sparkle Skirts (no, they don’t all sparkle – sparkleskirts.com). They come in tons of different patterns and materials, different lengths, different cuts, have three HUGE pockets and the shorts underneath don’t budge at all. I’m addicted!

  5. I love sport skirts brand and some of the older athlete ones. They ride up less than booties and as you said when you feel good, you run better. For me it’s all about the elastic at the bottoms and having pockets for Gu/gel, money, keys, etc. I run with skirts for longer races but booties for 5k/10k.
    Just killed my half PR last week in my Sport Skirt and I’m hoping to run NYC this fall in one, weather permitting.
    Rock the Skirt!!

  6. I say to each her own — everyone should run in what makes them feel comfortable and strong. I personally am not a fan of running skirts, even though my first sports love was field hockey, which is a sport where the traditional uniform includes a skirt. For running, though, skirts just aren’t for me — I feel like there is unnecessary fabric, and I feel more comfortable and faster in shorts. But I do love this idea of taking something traditionally feminine and proving that it’s a symbol of strength. And I have to admit that it would be pretty awesome to chick a bunch of dudes during a race while wearing a skirt!

  7. I have a few running skirts and I do like running in them. I haven’t run a race in one but I feel pretty inspired to kick a few guys asses now in one. I’ve found mine at Target and have been very pleased with the fit and the compression.