Come race day, the right mindset will make or break your race. Like the famous proverb says, “Running is 90% mental and 10% physical.” One of the easiest ways to get into a positive mindset on race morning is having a dedicated race day kit. One that looks good and will elevate your confidence once you put it on – like your finest suit you only reserve for special occasions.
I still very clearly remember the day I first received my college race day kit – a simple white jersey tank top that read Villanova across the chest in the classic arched blue font with 2-inch dark blue split shorts. I must have put it on a dozen times in my dorm room before my first race. This rather simple looking outfit stood for excellence in the world of college running. Anyone who wore it was part of Villanova’s deep history of elite caliber runners and expected to carry on that tradition. There was a feeling of invincibility every time I raced as if the kit gave me superpowers – similar to when Clark Kent went into a telephone booth, changing into his Superman outfit. No matter how I felt on race day, every time I put on my Villanova kit, my mindset changed to game on, “I’m ready, and I’m going to rock this race.”
A race day kit should be something special. Something you look forward to wearing like I did with my Villanova kit. I recommend keeping brand continuity for the top and bottoms, making sure they match. The more the outfit stands out from everyday running attire, the better. This outfit should elevate your confidence, so don’t let the price hold you back. Like your finest suit – go ahead and splurge a little. Reserve it for race day only, never for training. It needs to represent something. As the saying goes, “Look good, feel good.” Here are some of the best looking kits to help elevate your mindset on race day.
The Speedster: Soar Elite Racing Bundle
UK’s boutique running brand, Soar makes some of the highest quality, aggressive-looking running clothing I’ve tested. Offered in three-color ways that you can mix and match, the kit features Soar’s Elite Race Short 3.0, a four-way stretch, notched split short along with the ultra-light, open weave Italian mesh ELITE race vest. So if you’re after an all eyes on me look for race day, this kit is for you. Not a fan of short shorts? Try the Singlet Bundle (link) featuring a slightly longer mid-thigh short. The singlet is designed to be fitted, so if you prefer a looser fit, I suggest sizing up.
The Casual: On Lightweight Shorts & Tank-T
Perfect for hot and humid race days when lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing is essential, this distraction-free top and bottom combo from Swiss running brand On are engineered for both function and form. The mid-length thin, stretchy shorts are clean looking and move with your every step effortlessly – resisting the urge to ride up with each stride. The lightweight Japanese knit fabric tank top is seamless with taped edges to prevent rubbing hotspots. Prefer sleeves? Swap out the tank top for On’s Performance T.
The Trail Runner: Patagonia Long Haul Kit
Patagonia has always offered running apparel, but last fall they seriously stepped up their game, debuting a full trail running kit – shorts, shirt, lightweight jacket and hydration vest. Suited for any short or ultra length trail run, the Long Haul Kit includes an updated version of Patagonia’s best selling Strider Pro Shorts, in 5 and 7-inch inseam, a thin, moisture-wicking t-shirt and the Air Houdini, a more breathable version of Patagonia’s popular Houdini jacket. The highlight of the kit is the Slope Hydration Vest, a well-tailored, breathable four and eight-liter hydration pack.
The Standout: Janji Orbital Singlet & AVR Middle Short
Running should be fun, and no other brand does fun-themed running clothing better than Janji. As part of Janji’s Cambodia Collection where a portion of the proceeds are donated to Cambodia, these colorful patterned tops and bottoms, which makes it standout from the drones of bland solid colored running apparel. Offered in six fun patterns and colors, the Orbital singlet is paper thin, making it virtually unnoticeable. It sports a modern look with aggressive underarm cuts that help guard against chaffing. Pair the singlet with Janji’s matching 3” split short or 5” short.
The Marathoner: New Balance Q Speed Collection
For New Balances’ fastest drying, highest performing running apparel, look no further than the Q Speed collection – a line of tops and shorts that has a more subdued athletic look than the others. All the tops feature New Balance’s ICEx technology that uses your sweat to help cool you and come in a variety of cuts, patterns and colors. For shorts, the 5” inseam Q Speed Shadow 2-in-1 is the ideal marathon short offering enough carrying capacity in its built-in utility belt for all your gear and fuel for race day. The integrated compression liner is comfortable and supportive, warding off any race day chaffing.
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