Posted by: Ingrid | October 20, 2010

Running tight protocol?

Nothing says running shorts like 30 degree weather, right?  I am proud of myself for having somewhat acclimated to our new climate within the year (but I will never never acclimate to the summer mosquitoes.  NEVER.).  The fact that I hailed from southern California land-of-no-seasons-but-summer combined with the fact that I do not carry large amounts of adipose tissue made for a bit of a rough transition last year.  Sub-arctic temperatures and I do not necessarily agree with each other.

Oh wait, we aren’t sub-arctic here, are we?  We’re not even in Wisconsin or Minnesota, for heaven’s sake!  Okay, felt like sub-arctic then.

But this year, when the mercury in the bulb drops into the low 30’s, shorts are still the only logical conclusion for what to wear on a morning run.  Even into the upper 20’s I think they will be okay.  After all, skeletal muscles are supposed to help produce heat and I’ve got some serious muscle on those legs though I did have to ask them today (yes, I talk to my legs, don’t you?) why they were turning pink and going numb.  Must’ve been the wind.

But I digress from my digression.

It’s not going to be this warm for much longer which means it’s time to pull out the running tights.  Now, aside from the days in California when I would occasionally pull on tights when the weather dropped into the 50’s (oh, what a weather wimp I was) my only experience wearing them was last winter.  My tights and I, we have a polite relationship.  They keep me super warm and I try not to think about the fact that they are, in fact, tights.  Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up in a home where tight clothing was deemed completely inappropriate and unacceptable for wearing in public.  Maybe.  But I am trying very hard to figure out what is socially acceptable when it comes to running tights.

Here are the problems.

You wear the tights with a long-ish shirt that just skims the bottom of your gluteus maximus, therefore giving you a sense of coverage.  First, good luck finding that shirt that is still fitted on top.  Secondly, you end up feeling like you should be accessorizing with a huge belt, large neon hoop earings, and multi-colored scrunchies.  Hello 80’s!

Second, you wear the tights with a normal running shirt that is probably also form fitting.  Is this look only acceptable for hardcore-training-for-the-olympics runners?  I’m not sure.  With this pairing there is almost the sense of a partial Halloween costume – super hero or kitty cat?   Just add cape or ears and a tail depending on your preference.  This is how I’ve sometimes worn the tights (without cape, ears, or tail) but I always end up a little self-conscious.

Third, tights are donned followed by running shorts and regular shirt.  All of the warmth without any embarrassing skin-tight spandex.  But this always feels a bit odd to me too.  A little too layer-y and self-protective.

So help me.  Runners?  Non-runners who have only watched the spandex parade from your car?  Is there a particular protocol to follow with running tights? Is it too violating to early morning commuters who have just started on their first cup of coffee to watch runners in too much spandex flash by their cars?

Lest you think I am joking, I really am serious about this!  I actually spent time online last winter trying to figure out if there was a certain way tights should be worn.  Help!

Running Music for the Day:  Anything by Owl City




  1. Um, I have no problem with runners wearing running tights. It’s like swimmers wearing swimsuits: it’s appropriate to the activity.

    But then, I spent my teen years mountain-biking in spandex bike shorts, so I might be biased.

    btw, have you seen the documentary “Spirit of the Marathon”? I watched it last night on Netflix Instant and couldn’t help but think of you!

    • Thanks, Jess! I have not seen “Spirit of the Marathon”, but I will look for it. Sounds interesting! We just stopped our netflix for a while which is too bad – otherwise I could just pull it up online.

  2. I think it could go tights and running shirt only and be fine. I wear yoga-type tight capris and a racer back tank top and zip up jacket most of the time. But the shorts over top are not weird–think of it like wearing a skirt over your nylons. 🙂

    • Nylons? What are those? 🙂

  3. wow. i guess i am inured to the whole running tight in public debacle from having lived in a cold weather climate my whole life (with the notable exception of last year). i am so oblivious to their, well, tightness that i actually regularly wear them to a morning meeting at work which anywhere from 5-10 people attend and which i often run (the meeting that is) b/c i run from daycare to work and often do not have time to take advantage of the shower we have at work before this meeting.
    Just wear them! Don’t sweat it (pun intended)

  4. Ingrid, definitely wear your tights with your normal running garb. I tend to layer a shirt or jacket or whatever the weather calls for, but my butt is almost always out there on it’s own. I do prefer to wear shirts that come down to my hip, but those are hard to find too. There is a lady in my neighborhood who wears huge baggy shirts down to her mid thigh and it just looks weird. And uncomfortable. So, now that you are a Michiganer (if that’s what they call it?), wear your tights and wear ’em proud 🙂

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