Monday, September 26, 2011

Like a Superhero, I Wear a Costume


I am a running apparel enthusiast.

Many see running clothes as nothing more than clothes that become sweaty, but I see apparel as something that is integral to my identity as a runner.

Since the beginning of my running career, I have been intentional about what I wear to run. While it may appear silly, my running clothes serve as a costume that transforms me from an ordinary individual to someone who can conquer tough workouts and excel in adverse conditions. Like a child who slips on a superhero cape and immediately knows to run around the house with his or her arms extended for flight; my running outfits help me embrace the mentality needed for whatever workout, race, or long run lies ahead.

These costumes give me confidence and fuel. On challenging days they serve as a reminder that I not only look the part, I am the part. These clothes carry with them memories of successes and failures, and have helped me through some of my toughest trials as a runner.

During my most trying time, a setback involving a fifteen month battle with hip pain followed by a six month recovery from surgery for a torn labrum and impinged psoas, I relied on these "costumes" to remind me who I am and who I can be as a runner.

After falling while snowboarding in Colorado in March 2009, I was immediately unable to participate in any lower leg exercise (running, swimming, biking, etc.) without immense pain. For months I underwent endless exams and debated with doctors whether my pain was real or psychological, growing more discouraged everyday. Finally, in June 2010 a doctor was able to offer a real diagnosis and perform arthroscopic surgery to repair the extensive damage inside my hip socket.

The most challenging part of my two years injured and recovering from surgery was dealing with life without exercise. While I had various ways of coping with the depression that ensued, on my darkest days my running apparel provided hope. While my friends were off runnning races and enjoying long runs, I would put on a running outfit and walk around my apartment imagining what I would do if I could run. Sometimes I would pretend I was preparing for a race by putting on a uniform and a pair of racing flats; I would even evaluate myself in the mirror making statements such as, "look at you stud," or "everyone will know they don't stand a chance when they see you at the start line."

As silly as these moments were, it was being able to put on my running clothes and remember the goals I had accomplished and those I had yet to still chase, that kept me going. Even today as I slowly rebuild my mileage and my strength, having these "costumes" keeps me motivated. While it is simply moisture-wicking fabric and spandex, my clothing is truly a part of my identity as a runner. My clothes are like a superhero costume that reminds me I am capable of flying. When is the last time you ran in a costume?

My name is Taylor Penrod, I am 26 years old, and I run to...take advantage of the fact that I can.

TAYLOR PENROD lives in Bloomington, IN and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Kinesiology at Indiana University. She is employed at Indiana Running Company and authors the running apparel blog: "What I Wore (On My Run)." She was a state cross-country team champion and 4x800 state record holder while at Barrington High School (Barrington, IL) and a four-time NCAA DIII National Cross Country Championship qualifier while at DePauw University, culminating with a seventh place team finish in 2007. Aside from running she enjoys kayaking, hiking, cycling, and eating delicious food – especially Lou Malnati's deep-dish pizza.

1 comment:

Larry Hammersley said...

Hi Taylor: I'm glad you are on the mend. Injuries are certainly no fun. I've been there several times. I'm old fashion on what I wear to the runs, but Hey whatever works go for it. I did wake up to the fact that you don't wear Converse High Top basketball shoes, 1950s vintage, to run in. You're young and can bounce back after an injury although sounds like your injury was pretty severe. Anyway, the best to you. Larry