Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Workout Wednesday: Choosing a Team Costume

While I have dressed on a theme with my Runner Girls in the past, it wasn't until it came time to seriously think about a team costume/uniform for K100 that I really started to put some serious thought into running costumes.

Or more, it was my avoidance of belonging to an all women team dressed in PINK.

There are a ton of ways to do costume/theme racing.  I'm really only going to cover my own rules and experiences because, ultimately, a really elaborate and fancy costume can be a show stealer, but if you end up cursing it the entire time you're running - you'll never enjoy your race.  And, if you don't enjoy it - what's the friggin' point?

I will never be the girl dressed up as Homer Simpson running a marathon.  Heck - last year two guys ran one of the Calgary marathon events dressed as a dog and owner and it looked like the most uncomfortable and cumbersome costume ever.

My Guidelines

1) Be breathable - unless you usually run in cotton - you're probably not going to be terribly comfortable swathed in it for a race.  Stick to light, wicking layers.

2) Be comfortable - if it inhibits your range of motion - you will end up compensating somewhere and might end up injured because you changed your gait to make your costume work.  Is it really worth an injury for the sake of a costume?

3) Be cute - goes without saying.   Why dress up if you're going to feel ugly doing it

4) Work with a general theme - The more rigid the costume idea, the harder it gets to make the experience fun.   Choose a colour palette that works with the theme and add accessories to go with it.  For example - for the Santa Shuffle, we went with a "Christmas" colour theme and and added reindeer antlers with little bells on them from the dollar store.   I wore a red tech tee over a long sleeve black one and then pulled on my red pompom legwarmers (all of my runner girls wore the leg warmers).  We ended up cute and comfortable for very minimal cost.

5) Make sure everyone is on board and that it isn't going to break the bank for a one-off costume/theme (in the case of "team" outfits) - Most runners will have a few staples to their running wardrobe - black pants and tops, white tops, a neutral hat.   Not everyone looks good in the same colours or likes every colour out there. If you can get everyone to agree on a common colour - great!  Run with it!  If not -  it is possible to work with the team to find a common ground you can all agree on and, the larger the team, the better it is to stick with a neutral base outfit and build from there with accessories.

In my personal case - I HATE pink.  Like at an "allergic to pink" level.   I am on a women's relay team who has made the suggestion of pink as our theme.  Now, I don't own anything in pink.  I certainly don't want to run out and spend a bunch of money building myself a pink wardrobe that I will likely never wear again.  Instead, I made the suggestion that we all go with similar base outfits and then add an inexpensive, girly running skirt in the colour of our choice to set us apart (Team Sparkle makes super cute ones - I just ordered a green one to try out on St Paddy's...if it arrives on time).  I guess we'll see if the team takes me up on it...

As for cost - putting together a team costume doesn't need to be expensive.  Check out dollar stores for seasonal accessories (bunny ears around Easter, shamrocks in February, holiday items in November) and buy basic things that could work at different points in the year - though they may initially be bought for a specific race.  you never know when you might be able to reuse the plain green lei you bought for St Paddy's!

6) Learn from past costume mistakes - the first year I ran the Santa Shuffle, I wore two jackets with a red tee over top, a Santa hat, scarf, skirt and legwarmers.  I was ROASTING despite super cold temperatures.   The hat didn't breathe. The scarf felt like it was choking me and I ended up tying it around my waist mid-race.  I had to suck it up about the jackets because they were under my t shirt.   I ended up slow and very uncomfortable.  The next year, I wore almost the same LOOKING outfit, except that I wore light wicking layers, tied the scarf around my waist to start and put on the much more breathable antlers.  In the end it was a much more fun race.

Your costume/theme toolbox:
  • Bobby pins - learn from my experience and ANCHOR any headband you plan to wear.  My Rudolph antlers drove me batshit crazy during the Santa Shuffle because they wouldn't stay in place.
  • Safety Pins - You should be able to sense before you hit the start line if a certain aspect of your costume is going to drive you insane.  A quick slip of a safety pin might take away the annoyance before you even get started.  Otherwise - keep a couple clipped in your waistband so you can make a mid-race adjustment if you need to.
  • Escape Plan - if your costume goes horribly wrong - make a plan beforehand of how you can ditch the annoying elements.   Sometimes flinging an annoying headband is the only answer...

Races Meant for Costumes/Themes:
  • Disney Races
  • Women's Races
  • Halloween
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • Christmas
  • New Years
  • Valentines Day
  • Easter
  • Large races - a similar outfit or colour can help you stick with your friends at busy points like water stations
  • Relay races

Group Theme Ideas:
  • Superheroes
  • Cheerleaders
  • Jem and the Holograms (how fun would that be at a RnR race?)
  • Team colours (for example - wearing Roughriders colours - green and white - to a marathon in Regina)
  • Disney Princesses
  • Fairies

For the less brave (one or more of the following on a neutral base):
  • Wear the same shirt colour or have team shirts made
  • Add on accessories
  • Hawaiian leis
  • Funky glasses
  • Headbands
  • Similar hairstyles
  • clip in coloured hair pieces

Some Links for Inspiration:

Whether you are just dressing up similarly with your girlfriends or organizing a team for a larger scale costuming, when all is said and done (unless you are Leah Thorvilson who won a Disney race dressed as Tinkerbell) you are running in costume to up the fun factor of the race and anything you dress up in should enhance the day, not ruin it.

Have you ever dressed up for a race?   What was your costume/theme?  Share your experiences in the comments!  I'd love to hear about them!


  1. Great post. I love it. I've been trying to dream up something for St Patricks Day but don't know if I need a bright green sparkle skirt (even though I totally WANT one)! I have green and black striped tights wonder how they'd feel on a 5k run...

    1. Oh get the sparkle can wear it for other themed races too...Like a Christmas fun run

      Last year for St Paddys, I wore just a regular outfit plus a pair of fingerless shamrock gloves I bought at the hallmark store last minute.

      I was in Dollarama last weekend and they had green grass skirts. I've been contemplating picking one of those up in case the sparkle skirt doesn't get here in time. Might as well have a little fun on the cheap, right?

  2. You have some amazing ideas :). I love this post !! :)


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