When I swim, I routinely wear the ugliest getup possible. My bathing cap is so old it's hard. I finally got rid of my last bathing suit when I realized you could see my ass through the material. I wear these hideous items because I like my workouts to be an asocial experience, in which I pretend to be invisible. So I was disturbed by a reader's recent email about a new trend: the "running skirt". The running skirt — or "skort," a term I'll avoid from now on because it sounds like "hork" — is apparently big enough to warrant a feature in August's Runner's World magazine. According to author Kristin Armstrong — Lance's ex-wife — the modern running skirt was invented in 2004 by Nicole DeBoom, who wanted "to look pretty while kicking butt."

The skirts are now popular enough that they outsell women's capris, shorts, and pants at New Balance, and they have their own seven-city race, called the SkirtChaser. Even men get into the act.


Armstrong writes that "one of the best things about being a woman today is that we have so many options. Whether we are in the boardroom, on the home front, or on the starting line, we can bring it on like a man, but it doesn't mean we have to look like one." To my mind, however, the skirt option sucks. It doesn't help that Armstrong never mentions any real comfort advantage, or that she felt self-conscious the first time she put one on. It certainly doesn't help that Runner's World includes a skirt guide that looks pretty much like any ladymag's tips for hiding your figure flaws, including the "very slimming" New Balance Flare Skirt and the prAna Sugar Mini Skirt, whose name looks suspiciously similar to the phrase "pro-ana".


But my main objection to running skirts is best expressed in the sidebar "A Dissenting View," by Ginny Graves:

I couldn't quit thinking about The Skirt. It looks better than I usually do when I go running, but that was part of the problem; my "nice outfit" meaning more aware of my appearance — the last thing I want to be distracted by when running.


I don't want to look cute while kicking butt. I would like kicking butt (or "slowly flailing," which is what I actually do in the pool), to be one of the few activities in life when I'm exempted from looking cute. Then again, I'm not a runner. Those of you who do run, would you try a running skirt? Better yet, has anyone done so already?

The Rise of Skirt Culture: Skirt Reviews And Fit Tips [Runner's World]