Get Faster with Swagger

Everything about swagger I learned from my sister, Jerrica, an up and coming hip hop artist from Cleveland.
Everything I learned about swagger I learned from my sister, Jerrica, an up and coming hip hop artist from Cleveland.

In the fifteen years that I have been running, I’ve experienced a lot of different adventures. Early on, I was in love with everything about the sport. At seventeen, I started subscribing to Runner’s World and reading DyeStat every night. I wasn’t as focused on running fast times as I was with being a “runner.” To define what exactly is a runner is tough and varies in opinion but to me, it meant integrating the activity into my daily life, fit with wearing a Timex Ironman watch, Nike shoes, and the t-shirts from races, all day, everyday.

When I went on to college, I continued to run low mileage. An entry from my running log at the time read, “Long run: 4 miles.” I did many 5ks then, showing up in tight shorts, sunglasses, and a tan. Back then, I had swagger. I wasn’t running fast but I looked like I could. I remember running a 25 minute 5k in one race where I wore my one piece Nike bathing suit with spandex shorts because I thought it made me look fast. Apparently it did as I overheard a spectator during the race call out, “Wow, I want her to win!”

This post is about that swagger.

Swagger at 9 minute miles in 2004. I look like I'm going faster, right?
Swagger at 9 minute miles in 2004. I look like I’m going faster, right?

After college, I took a few years off from consistent training. With that break came a loss of swagger. Looking back, everything seemed quite foggy during the time without the identity of a runner. I got back into competitive training right before meeting James in 2009. With James came many connections to the elite running community. And with that came a complex. It didn’t help that I had unaddressed anxiety and depression looming. Now I was logging many miles and running a few new PRs but the swagger was gone. I was running scared.

The success of this past summer’s training helped me to see how I could put these two pieces together: the swagger of my youth + the knowledge and training load of my adult years = potentially bigger and better results. You want in, too? I’ll show you how.

Whether you are looking to break 29 minutes or 19 minutes in the 5k, you can have swagger. It’s all in how you carry yourself. According to, swagger is defined as:

“A demeanor of confidence, coolness, and togetherness. Someone with swagger gives of an aura of comfortability with his/her self. Swagger is commonly referred to as Swag or Swagga. Swagger is not to be confused with cockiness. Cockiness is someone thinking they are the shit, but if you have swagger you probably are the shit.”

In relation to running, swagger can refer to how you present yourself on the starting line. Are you cool, calm, and collected? Are you dressed to the running nines, fit with spandex, sunglasses, and arm warmers? Are you jumping up and down, swinging your arms while mean mugging your competition? You are? Then you got swagger.

Take a lesson from the pros

When I think of runners with swagger, a few names instantly come to mind: Deena Kastor, Jenny Simpson, and Maggie Vessey. From Deena’s race face and flawless form to Jenny’s sexy bangs as she takes out the competition to a blistering speed in the 1500 to Maggie’s mod running outfits of late, we can all learn a thing or two from these frequent frontrunners. They rarely look scared. Their results speak for themselves. Yet, when they are not running, they are all smiles, as down to earth as ever. But once the singlet and buns (or uni-suit in the case of Maggie) are on, watch out!

The look of a champion, Deena Kastor (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
The look of a champion, Deena Kastor. (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

How to channel your inner swagger

Besides taking some lessons from the pros, you might also find it helpful to do the following:

Listen to music. Whether it’s with the headphones or on the loudspeaker, music can elevate your mood. Even if you are not one to run with the iPod, occasionally listening to a good pump up song before a workout or having headphones in on the warm up can boost your swagger. Heavy beats and hard bumping techno are my go-tos, but to each their own. My boyfriend James is known to warm up to Steve Winwood. He says slower (I say corny) music relaxes his pre-race nerves and gets him pumped up.

Go shopping. There’s nothing like a brand new outfit to get you excited to train and race. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be much. A new head band can go a long way. And who doesn’t feel motivated to write up an entire 16 week marathon training plan after slipping into a pair of new kicks?

Watch yourself run in the mirrorOk, so this may seem a little weird and border on ego-mania. However, it’s not uncommon to take a look in the reflection of the window at the gym. Not only does watching yourself run help you identify any inconsistencies in your stride, it can also boost your confidence. Focus on seeing yourself as a runner who is strong and confident. Look at your arm muscles as they swing. Take a peak at those sculpted calves as they help you glide across the treadmill. You got this!

Do you believe in the power of swagger? How do you channel your inner swag? 

I write about mindfulness, mental health, and the professional sport of running with the occasional poking fun at the sport. When I am not running, I'm either helping people as a counselor or trying to make them laugh as an amateur open mic comedian.

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  1. I love this and totally buy it! I think I used to have more swagger before I started training with so many faster people. I think now I feel like a slow nerd compared to all my faster swaggery friends and I need to check that sh*t and rediscover my inner rock start (or hip hop artist)!

    1. I remember when we first met and then our first few “runs” (I quote cus I was biking). You had that swagger! I was so enamored by your strength and toughness. You still got it, too. You definitely had preggo runner mom swagger, too. That’s in a category of its own. Anyway, last few times I saw you at the track, you looked great. Keep it up. Dawg.

  2. This is great. Your posts always psych me up and make me smile. And I think you looked like you had wicked swagger in those pics from your most recent marathon, where you even swaggered during your walk intervals!