Running Fashion – VPL

I received the February 2011 issue of Runner’s World on Monday and was intrigued at the thought of an article reviewing underwear. That’s right. An entire article – complete with pictures and tester testimonials – about underwear. I’ve read articles reviewing running shoes, cold weather running gear, sports bras, hydration gear, energy gels, and energy bars. But I’ve never read an article that reviewed running underwear.

Color me naive but I had no idea that there was special underwear for running. Underwear is underwear, isn’t it? Grab the nearest clean pair and you’re good to go, right?

Apparently not! There’s underwear that helps wick sweat away, underwear made with silver fiber to help reduce odor-causing bacteria, underwear made out of wool to keep everything toasty, and more. Who knew that underwear was such an important consideration when getting ready for a run?

The reviews on women’s underwear made me chuckle at first. However, as I thought a bit more about it, I cringed because one thing that all the reviews contained was whether the undies gave the user a visible panty line (or VPL for those that enjoy acronyms). And I thought, “Really?! When a woman goes out for a run, does she really think about whether she has VPL or not?”

I’ve always thought that runners are pretty unassuming and down-to-earth people. The kind of people who throw on their running clothes, grab their electronic gadgets, and go. People who are more concerned with comfort than sartorial splendor. People who are more worried about chafing than chic-ness. No stopping at the full-length mirror on the way out the door. No preening. No wondering if the running outfit makes them look fat. No worrying about whether their panty lines are showing.

But then I remembered the whole shorts versus skort debate that raged a couple of years ago and realized that to some runners, fashion is part of their running identity. For some runners, a good run includes looking good while they’re running. For some runners, wearing a color-matched outfit is as important as fueling properly before, during, and after a run. I know that when I feel comfortable in what I’m wearing, it makes a difference in my performance – whether I’m running or at the office.

At the end of the day, the important thing isn’t what you wore for your run, it’s that you went for your run. So, if you’ve been putting off running because you’re worried about VPL in your running tights, you no longer have an excuse.

Happy running!

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