Do the clothes maketh the runner?

Until last week, this was the quality banter in my household every time I got dressed for a workout, invariably a combo of t-shirt and faded, shrunken trousers:

Did your cat die?

[eyeroll] No… pray tell, why?

Because your trousers are at half mast! Bwahahhaha!*

Until last week my workout trousers, or pants to non-UK folks, were far too short. I usually buy basic boring black ones from Marks & Spencer. They’re under a tenner and last for ages except for one annoying factor – they always seem to get shorter after a few washes.

Thus the world was treated to an eyeful of glamourous white sock every time I went on my walks. Like a clown. Or Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, except three times as wide.

Audrey's famous white socks in Funny Face
Audrey’s famous white socks in Funny Face (Credit:

Trudging the streets in a constant state of “mourning” these past couple of years, it didn’t cross my mind to get new dacks. It was a combination of tightarse factor and fat factor. There was nothing functionally wrong with the two pairs I’ve had on rotation. Sure they were too short and more grey than black, but they made my lower half decent and I wanted to lose weight anyway. Why waste money and the earth’s resources?

But the lard busting had not happened and I felt more frumpy and ridiculous by the day. So last week I splashed out £9.50 on a new pair. And this time I got them in the Long length instead of Medium.

What a revelation! M&S say their Long length is for 5’9″ and over and since I’m 5’8″ I was always, OH NO they’re not for the likes of me! But with the shrinkage factor turns out they’re just right. I instantly felt 98% less of a twat on my walks!

In our Up & Running e-courses we always say don’t worry too much about workout gear – as long as you’ve got reasonably comfy clothes, the sports bra and shoes are the most important thing. We don’t want anyone to go bankrupt in the name of technical fabrics! But I reckon that no matter your budget and body size, a workout can feel so much better when your clothes fit properly. Whether it’s Primark or Puma, I just feel more purposeful, sporty and sparkly. It’s like saying, you are worth the effort. Not some Slinky You of the Future. You, as you are, right now. Now let’s get moving!

So I wouldn’t say clothes necessarily maketh the runner (or power walker, in my case), but they do maketh me happier to get my butt out the door.

* Apparently the Dead Cat joke was in vogue at Gareth’s primary school, used when a peer went through a growth spurt but didn’t have new trousers to match!


  1. Pamela
    Agree 100%, Shauna. I try to keep my budget pretty basic, but I have a few cool outfits that I've splurged on over the years. Not only do they make you feel better psychologically, but often the dedicated workout gear makes you feel more comfortable exercising -- always a plus. Glad you got the pants :-)
  2. Gretchenpdx
    I just did that too but in regards to a shirt as my old ones were too snug around my increased hips. The larger one feels SO much better I think it instantly made my posture better and w/o was done with more purpose and confidence. But here's to further re-de larding for us both even though loving ourselves as we are is important too!
  3. Jen
    Feeling like a schlub every time you went out to walk had to be demotivating. Glad you got some new clothes that fit right. I have invested in technical fabrics and I couldn't run outside in Ohio without them -- winter especially, but even in summer. Cotton soaks up sweat and then freezes you when the wind changes directions. It doesn't have to be expensive to get a Gore-Tex (or cheap knockoff) jacket and pants, wicking leggings and long-sleeved top, blister-proof socks. I do go cheap on the hat and scarf, but I have fancy texting gloves so I can adjust my music. Most of my stuff is years old and came from the clearance rack or Target, though my Gore-Tex suit was a Christmas/birthday gift from my inlaws.
  4. Pam
    Shauna, I spent way too much money on a new wardrobe all the way down the scale. Although I have a closet full of clothes that currently fit (and no place to wear them--now that I'm retired), I also have a couple other closets full of clothes that are now too big. No, they're not my "before" clothes. I only saved ONE outfit from before--Size 5X!!! I have lots of 4X, 3X and 2X clothes too that I got excited would fit and bought them as I was losing, and they're like new. I need to give them away so someone else could get some good out of them, but then I feel like that could be just what the fates were waiting for--and as soon as I get them out of my closet, I will regain and need them again. Scares me to death! So I'll leave them in the closet for now and pray I never need them!
  5. paula
    I'm all for feeling 98% less of a twat!!
  6. Kate
    You inspire me to go through my closet and get rid of poorly fitting clothes. I am like many others in that I have many sizes of clothes. So many don't fit that I end up just wearing the same few things over and over. It does have a demoralizing effect. Thanks for the inspiration!
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  8. Flora
    Even just getting a shiny new pair of running shoes (metallic mint green, aww yeah!) has boosted my outlook. And I'm tempted to get a new running bra soon. There's nothing technically wrong with either my old shoes or my old bras, but having ridiculous technical clothing that can't be worn in public unless you're actually sweating does give one a sense of mission somehow.