Betty Says: Fastinistas

I won't ever look like her, no matter what I wear (but I can dream, can't I?)

Ooh, we get right into the controversy this week:

Hi Betty,

Did you catch the comments on the Fastinistas article in RW? WTF? What’s your take on the angry women in the comments?

– Baffled in Boston

Hi Baffled,

If you didn’t catch this month’s Runner’s World magazine (what, you don’t read it religiously?), there was a cover article about “fastinistas:” the new culture of women who want to look good while they run. While I’m not in favor of spending hundreds of dollars on matchy-matchy outfits from high-end shops, I have to admit that there’s something to be said for technical fabrics in styles that fit and flatter.

But the comments were brutal. Some excerpts:

NO NO NO. As a women I am sick and tired of being told to embrace my feminine side. Running is not about fashion, it’s about just running, or gutting out the 32k training run, or busting your butt at the track doing speedwork, finding some inner peace on the trails, or just enjoying a run. If you are concerned about your appearance, there is something drastically wrong. – himantura

why would you feel bad about the way you look if your running? Let me guess, your casually jogging 3 times a week? and yes, I AM going there. – CassC9

woo hoo look at MEEEE . I’m a middle child and didn’t get enough attention growing up. – aponi

Wow. So if I’m reading this correctly, anyone running in bright colors, or running 3 times a week or not “gutting out the 32k trail run” isn’t really a runner?


If there’s anything that I’ve learned from Team in Training (other than “cotton is rotten”), it’s this: you got your butt out there and made the commitment to get yourself healthier and push your body, week after week. I don’t care if you’re jogging three times a week, “only” running a half marathon, or running Badwater: you’re running. And that — not your clothes or your distance — makes you a runner.

I wish I understood what makes women want to tear each other down this way. Did we never outgrow our middle school insecurities? And don’t get snippy just because there was an article in a magazine; the fashion police aren’t coming to get you “real runners.” Wear your gray college tee and sweats. Wear Tinkerbell wings or stiletto heels, for all I care. Your choices don’t influence my running any more than mine should influence yours.

So I guess you’re wondering what I do wear. I have some 4-year-old Nike Pro technical tees that I bought on clearance at the Nike Outlet, a few technical race tees (I love the ones from Greenlight Apparel and See Jane Run) and a couple of REI tanks that I bought on clearance. (Do you notice a theme?) I also have some old Nike capri tights that are a little bit longer than their current style, and two Skirt Sports running skirts* because they don’t ride up like shorts do, and the extra skirty material lets me feel a little less exposed.

And if you think that my skirt makes me less of a runner… well, that’s your problem, not mine.

* Thanks to Sarah and Dimity of Another Mother Runner for convincing me that I wouldn’t get arrested for indecent exposure by letting my tall girl legs out in a skirt.

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6 Responses

  1. Gigi says:

    Amen!!!! Thank you for this post. As a newbie to running it has been a bit difficult to navigate all of this “real” v. “fake” runner thing ( “where did you get THOSE shoes???” “how fast do YOU run a mile???”)
    But geez, Ive discovered how much I love to run, even on those days when I’m more slo mo than flo jo…. So, Thanks for reminding me that yes I AM a runner because I’m out there doing it :).

  2. Alisa says:

    I came to running late — I was 33 when I first laced up my Asics — so I think I’ll always feel like I’m a step behind the people who ran cross country in high school. But look at me! I’m training for my third half. I have a wall that’s filling with race bibs. I know that there will always be women who run farther or faster, but running isn’t all or nothing. You don’t get your running credentials when you qualify for Boston. So yes, we’re runners, too. And if you ever need any support, Gigi, send me an email and I’ll remind you that you’re out there, you’re doing it and you’re most definitely a runner!

  3. Jim P says:

    Well written article, and I agree with your points, especially regarding cotton vs. technical fabrics. I don’t care if they match, but I do like my Dri-Fit gear.

    The other piece of tech I find very helpful, i.e., I run better with it, is my heart rate monitor.

  4. Alisa says:

    At first, I didn’t bother investing in technical fabrics because I had a whole drawer full of 100% cotton tees. There’s a reason why my coaches preach the “cotton is rotten” mantra, and you don’t really start to appreciate it until you’re 3 miles in on a hot, sweaty day.

    I’ve never run with a heart monitor, but from what I hear it’s one of those things that changes your entire experience. Does your monitor link to a Garmin? My “vintage” Garmin isn’t monitor compatible, but it’s something that I’d consider if I ever get around to investing in new technology.

  5. I really like that you tackled the issue of women bar-rating women over their fashion choice or lack there of and running. I guess some people never stop feeling ridiculed or judged no matter how far they run or what they wear and they feel the need to judge others according to their own internal dialogue. Perhaps the lady who guts it out on the trail only feels accomplished after doing this…maybe the other lady – the WOO WEE look at me lady – really is the middle child! I really think that most of the time people are really just reflecting their own anxieties and fears.
    I remember someone telling me once that you can tell a lot about someone by the types of gifts they give – that people tend to buy things they are attracted to even though the gift is for someone else – so in a weird sense I am using this analogy on these women runners! The comments they are making about other women runners are really the fear they face in their own mind while running.
    BTW – loved your feature in RLM!

  6. Alisa says:

    Such an interesting parallel to the gift giving, but there’s definitely something to it: how much is about them vs. being about you? It would never occur to me to gripe about what someone else is wearing because I’m so busy doing my thing (although I did notice the woman who ran the 5k all decked out in leg warmers and leotards like Jane Fonda in the 80s; I couldn’t miss that!)

    Thanks for stopping by!

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