Springtime in Colorado often consists of 80-degree days punctuated by residual rainstorms, a clamor for prime patio seating at cafes and breweries, and a smattering of road races—from costume-optional, themed 5Ks to the glory-filled 26.2 miles.
After many months training in solitude, clocking miles on the early-morning Cherry Creek Trail and beyond, race days are the perfect opportunity for runners to punch up their look—and not just for maximum performance. Here, some of spring’s brightest wears to suit whatever race you’re tackling this season:
Colorado’s spring mornings can start off cold—even when temps are set to hit the high 70s or 80s. For a runner, the mercury’s drastic leap demands a spot-on layering strategy to keep your lungs comfortable, and your body breathing as the sun climbs to maximum strength. A relatively short, three-mile stretch doesn’t require much in the way of sophisticated running gear, so it’s best to wear go for comfort:
Shoes: For a 5K, you just want to wear what feels good. Boulder-based Newton Running Shoes envelop your feet in cushy comfort (and they look good, too). In a market rife with dated over-design, Newton stands out with its solid colors with pops of on-trend neon.
Top: Double-layer with a tank and long-sleeve you can peel off and tie around your waist if you get hot. We like the cheery stripes on Brooks’ Bring It Racerback, with lululemon’s Swiftly Tech 1/2 Zip or Long Sleeve Crew on top—all of which transitions nicely for a post-race beer when you’re done.
Bottoms: 5Ks are all about having fun, so eschew the shorts and try Skirt Sports. The Race Magnet Skirt includes mesh “shorties” underneath, as well as hidden, powerful magnets to affix your bib, and side pockets to stash your phone and ID easily. The special jersey fabric is breathable, while the shorts’ mesh material offers superior muscle support.
Step it up with a 10K
Edging just over six miles, a 10K will get you breathing a little heavier and requires some more serious sartorial choices. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style.
Bra: Colorado company Sturdy Girl Sports Bras provides necessary support for larger cup sizes. Nike consistently has the most eye-catching patterns—even if it’s hidden under your tank—as well as a variety of styles to fit any size. And Patagonia aces the basics in uncharacteristically chipper colors.
Bottoms: Those who won’t go for a skirt typically have their preference down pat—running tights or shorts. The former, in capri-length, is perfect for spring: They’re still airy, but offer extra absorption for when you work up a sweat. Our current favorite is Under Armour’s Fly-By Compression Capris, which come in a range of tie-dyed colors and offer an extra-tight fit. If shorts are more your thing, the Oiselle Roga Toolbelt Shorts are minimalistic with a comfortable waistband that includes a secure, hidden pocket to carry small necessities. To get a level of compressive support, pair these shorts with Zensah Ultra-Compression Leg Sleeves, which stimulate blood flow, increase muscle recovery, and enhance performance.
Many of the same rules apply as you approach half-marathon territory, and continue on to the glorious 26.2-mile mark. At this level, comfort is key. Pay extra attention to your feet and make wardrobe decisions based on what won’t make you blister and chafe. Consider compression tights or leg sleeves on the bottom, and breathable, non-cotton tops that wick away moisture on top. If you must, opt for a very light top layer that you can easily tie around your waist or ditch along the course. And at this length, don’t forget the all-important accessories.
Tops: The North Face’s Dahlia Tank comes with a built-in shelf bra to minimize the number of layers you need to wear, but take it for a test drive to make sure the skinny straps provide enough support before donning it for the long haul. The brand’s new Better than Naked Singlet will require a stand-alone sports bra, but offers barely-there coverage to keep you cool.
Bottoms: Speaking of barely there, many long-distance runners gravitate towards less and less coverage as they rack up the miles. You’ll see elite runners competing in briefs, which are great if your thighs don’t touch (otherwise you’ll chafe). For a little more coverage, try Oiselle’s Stride Short Minis. Pair with compression leggings or sleeves, as long as your legs can breathe.
Hats: Don’t just throw on any old cap to log big miles. Brooks’ ultra-light nylon hats are breathable, and have a strangely flattering effect.
Sunglasses: Boulder-based Zeal Optics makes stylish sport sunglasses to keep you from squinting the race away. The Active Collection Idyllwild model will look great long after you’ve crossed the finish line. Plus, since they’re built for performance, they won’t slip.
Socks: Perhaps your most important accessory at this level of racing, make sure your socks offer maximum comfort and minimal moisture. Check out Smartwool (a brand founded in Steamboat), and Feetures Elite’s running peds.
Packs: Some runners swear by the fanny pack. (Yes, you heard that correctly.) The one that’s most unobtrusive—both physically and aesthetically—is the Amphipod AirFlow Micro Stretch Plus Belt.
Inset photos (from top): Newton Running Shoes, Skirt Sports, Zensah, The North Face, Zeal Optics, Amphipod