Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Running Blues

You may recall that a few weeks ago, I was posting about my struggles figuring out what to wear while running. A few kind readers suggested (both in the comments section, and privately) that I try something like a split skirt, or culottes, or gauchos, the idea being that they are garments which are still modest and distinctly feminine, but a bit more practical for running than a skirt. However, along with those suggestions came a bit of hesitation, and I gathered that not all would agree with the idea.

Well I didn't want to start running in gauchos (I liked this pair) only to find that I was offending somebody, especially if I were to post a picture on my blog, you know, like when I run that half-marathon someday. So I decided to investigate a little farther, and asked a person whom I thought might have a more authoritative answer: If I wear culottes for running, am I breaking any rules? Am I going to cause offense?

Well he didn't know, but he was so kind as to talk the matter over with a few other people. The long and the short of it is, I have been advised that while there are no hard-and-fast rules about the subject, in order for me to play it safe and not cause offense, I should not wear anything other than a skirt for exercise.

To clarify, the FP stance (that's the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland) is that women should wear women's clothing and men should wear men's clothing. And FPs believe that skirts are women's clothing and pants/trousers are men's clothing. I guess culottes or gauchos or what have you are seen as sort of a gray area that is best avoided, at least in our local congregation.

Now before those of you who are not FPs start thinking "Aaack! Legalism! Run away!" I must express some sympathy with the principles being defended here. Those principles are distinction in dress, modesty, and the avoiding of worldliness. I appreciate that my church takes those principles seriously, and it's definitely a blessing to attend church services where the women are all modestly and soberly dressed.

That said, I'm a little bummed that the "rule" trumps practicality and even modesty in some situations. I mean, generally speaking I am happy to wear skirts as I do think it's easier to be modest in a skirt. But there are times when a skirt is not as modest (I'm thankful that no one I know has seen me running lately).

So I'm feeling kinda blue about running. I've given up on it for the moment, actually, as it's frustrating and exhausting to be fighting with my clothes the whole way. I wish I could just relax and run without having to think about my clothes at all. Maybe soon I'll gather the courage to give it another try.


  1. My girls can attest to a bad situation this past week in which they went skiing. There was a large woman in a skirt skiing down the hill at a local ski resort, only to have it flying up, her falling and breaking her leg, and all within about a half hour! This is no joke. One of the father chaperones they were with asked, "Now what do you think is more modest--wearing a skirt or snow pants?" Context and culture have always played a role in what is proper attire for a man or woman, but I do respect your decision to be submissive to church authority and not be an offense or stumbling block. That is definitely much more important eternally than a few years of feeling fit. On the other hand, perhaps the Lord will open up a way for you to get a treadmill or something for INSIDE your home, and you'll be blessed for honoring Him.
    Many blessings!

  2. what about a skort?

  3. Anonymous, it doesn't look like any of those skorts cover the knee, so they probably wouldn't "pass." I would prefer a knit material anyway, for comfort.

  4. At FP Youth Conferences, when the subject has come up it has been agreed that shorts for exercise would be appropriate. As a guy, please put modesty first - if you're not modest you will be a stumbling block where many men are most vulnerable.

    Many a farmers wife, in the FPs, would wear a pair of jeans around the farm: when wrestling with animals, or whatever, practicality dictates.

    If I could offer any advice:
    Take modesty first, and femininity second.
    Do that by wearing what is modest, and then making the whole outfit distinctly feminine.

    Personally, I think it's foolish to separate out skirts vs trousers - I think it's more appropriate to consider the outfit as a whole. Consider other cultures, like India, where the men and women both wear loose trousers, and a long tunic. The women have a slightly different style, lots of bright colours, and really intricate designs. The men just have plain clothing. It's the same items of clothing, but there is a clear distinction between the genders.

  5. What about wearing shorts or capris under a skirt? I know I've said that before, and maybe I missed something, but does it not work?
    I don't know who agrees that "shorts for excercise would be appropriate" but I do know of plenty of people who would disagree! If we were to be concerned with modesty first, then why would we do shorts instead of trousers? The latter covers more. I'm sure there's a way to be both feminine and modest...and athletic ;) I hope you don't altogether give up running if you really benfit from it and enjoy it! As soon as I'm healed up from having Alex, I'm going to have to be thinking about what to wear for such things as well.

    @ James- In our culture we do separate out skirts vs. trousers since we aren't indian. :) The difference between men's and women's clothing in our culture is mainly that women wear skirts and men don't. I don't think that anyone in their right mind would say that indian women should stop wearing the trousers, since it is appropriate in their culture. What is right in our culture? That women wear skirts, not trousers.

    This comment ended up longer than I thought it would be!


  6. Hi Hayley! The problem I've had with the shorts I've tried under a skirt (I was trying knit shorts under a knit or denim skirt) is that the skirt fabric and the short fabric cling together and cause more chafing, and more bunching of the skirt. I bet bike shorts or compression shorts would work though, as they are snug enough not to tangle, and slippery enough not to cling. And they would keep the skirt from chafing me so much. But they wouldn't solve some of the other problems with running in skirts (the tangling, the inability to stretch modestly). Still, I want to give compression shorts a try, and will as soon as the clothing budget allows for it. :)

    Where I run is pretty much always windy--a straightaway next to the highway, no trees. If you're going to be exercising in a less windy place, you may have a much easier time of it.

  7. Thanks Hayley, I'd agree trousers are preferable to shorts, but I was paraphrasing what was said. It was my own hope that modesty would be put first.
    I was trying to show that there can be clear distinctions between men and women in more than one way.
    I blogged on my thoughts on this, I'd be thankful for your honest opinions:

    Sharon, I came across this:
    I think it's kind of what Hayley's describing?, but I would assume that they're made from a suitable material if they're marketed as for exercise.

    Every Blessing!

  8. Hi James, yes, I've seen the "exerskirt", and I'm actually planning to order one, though I'm waiting till the lady who runs the site answers the question I e-mailed her about sizes. :)

  9. An "exerskirt" has finally been ordered and shipped! Once I've tried it out, I'll write a review for y'all. :)

  10. Hello, how is the exerskirt working?
    I am a figure skater and run a looking for something I can wear that is modest.
    I also wonder about it for swimming...

  11. Debbie, the exerskirt works pretty well! I wrote a review of it, which you can read here:

    I don't do much swimming, but I would imagine that the exerskirt would work for that too. Hydrochic sells some modest swim skirts (there's a link in that review post) and I bet they would also work for running, as the construction seems to be similar. Hope that helps. :)


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