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How to Go Running Without Dressing Like an Awkward Dad

From non-nerdy shoes to retro-inspired shorts, this running gear won't make you feel like a jabroni when you hit the pavement.
Ian Burke
Brooklyn, US
July 13, 2021, 6:08pm
Screen Shot 2021-07-13 at 12
composite by vice staff

Let’s get one thing straight: It doesn’t matter what you look like when you’re running—or, for that matter, doing literally any other form of exercise. First of all, people really aren’t paying attention to you to begin with (unless you’re famous, or like, wearing a giant lobster costume, which, for the record, can be arranged). Secondly, if people are watching you run, they’re not snickering and making snide remarks to themselves about your outfit. No, they’re probably thinking something along the lines of Good for them, or Damn, I should go for a run. 


Because what else is running for, if not to smugly jog past stationary civilians? That so-called “runner’s high” people talk about? It’s not powered by endorphins—rather, it’s fueled by the intense, fleeting rush of shaming your non-runner friends and sending them the map and mileage of your latest assault on the asphalt. (Disclaimer: These statements have not been approved by a doctor.) 

However, we understand that looking SICK can make you feel better and more confident about hitting the pavement or treadmill. Plus, if you’re reading Rec Room, you (probably) have a dope reputation as a style icon to uphold. You might also be thinking about how all of that meat you ordered last month is affecting your heart health, and that maybe a quick jog around the block is in order. Whatever your reason for wanting to look fresh while sweating out prosciutto juices and ethanol fumes, we get it, and we got you. 

The thing is, a lot of the running gear on the market seems to be geared towards people who already look like runners—i.e. sinewy, pronghorn-like dorks who can’t hear the haters over the sound of the blood pumping through their ears on mile seven of their before-work “recovery jog.” If you’re one of those people, good on ya, but you’ve probably made peace with the fact that a lot of running gear isn't exactly sexy, and you definitely don’t care what people think, because nobody can really tell what you’re wearing in your Strava profile picture anyway. 


So, prospective athletes, lace em’ up, and check out some of our favorite cool-as-a-cuke running gear below. 

Show off those quads

When we say “shorts,” we’re not talking about the new YouTube feature. No, we’re talking about the calf-displaying freedom-bottoms that let your knees breathe and give you a wide, unhindered range of motion when you’re pounding the pavement. We’re partial to the shortest of shorts, but whatever floats your boat. 

Free People

The Way Home Shorts


Men's 2" Running Shorts


Van Cortlandt Shorts

New Balance

NYC Marathon Impact Run 5 inch Short

Just add a racing bib

Unless you’re a Get-a-Load-of-These-Pecs Guy™, chances are you might want to pop some sort of top on before you hit the streets. Plus, the more coverage you have, the less likely you are to catch a nasty sunburn. However, what your running top looks like varies depending on your body type, local climate, and running style. You might not want to wear a racing singlet while jogging in a park—though if you do, we got you covered.  


QTQ Race Singlet

Jacques NYC

Movement T-Shirt


Houndstooth Action Bra 2.0

Lucky in Love

Twist Front Tank


Van Cortlandt Long Sleeve

Before you race, you must lace

Whether you call them tennis shoes, sneakers, or trainers, investing in a solid pair of running shoes is crucial if you want to minimize joint pain and stick with the sport. That being said, there are a number of factors that go into picking the right running shoe for your specific situation. Consider the terrain you’re primarily going to be running on, how long your runs are going to be, and whether you’re going to be wearing insoles or thick socks while you jog.  If you live near a running store, popping in for a gait assessment and some expert recommendations is likely your best bet. Once you figure out the type of shoe you need, you can focus on the fun stuff—because in case you didn’t know, your ergonomic running shoes don’t have to look nerdy. Brands like Hoka, Brooks, and Athletic Propulsion Labs make structurally sound trainers that are also showstopping. 


All Gender Clifton L Suede

Some of you should wear a helmet

But for those who think they’re coordinated enough to skip the hardhat, a sturdy running hat goes a long way in helping provide visibility, sun protection, and coolness.


Transit Tech Cap


Men's Superlite Relaxed Adjustable Performance Cap

These will help people not recognize you

Now that we’re slowly transitioning away from masks in many parts of the country, we find ourselves missing the anonymity that they once provided. The answer? Some good ol’ shades. They’ll also help protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, and will allow you to spot any potential road hazards (an errant ex, perhaps) and adjust your course. Add a pack of sunglasses straps to your cart if you’re worried about them falling off your face. 


The Charles Sunglasses


Ultralight Polarized Sports Sunglasses

Blisters are cheugy 

Is calling things "cheugy" cheugy? [Sighs in Internet.] Anyway, the last thing anyone wants is to ruin their new pair of running shoes with blood stains from not wearing the correct gear. Ditch the Walmart 10-packs and invest in some good running socks. Your ankles, heels, and toes will thank you.  


Hidden Comfort No-Show Running Socks

Rain, sleet, or snow 

What, a little weather is going to stop you from hitting your morning jog? Wrong. It’s time to don your sick running jacket, fuss with your FitBit, and get your act together. 

Eleven by Venus Williams

Glowup Fly Away Jacket


Nike x Gyakusou Men's 3-Layer Jacket

New Balance

Printed Impact Run Light Pack Jacket


Zephyr Runner Jacket

Cut through the air

Once you’ve shaved off your eyebrows to reduce drag, the next logical step is to pick up a sweet pair of leggings. These are great in the winter and fall, since they allow for a great range of motion while keeping you warm, and you don’t have to worry about snagging them on things as you run. Plus, you’re a runner now—own it! 

Under Armour

Men's HeatGear 2.0 Leggings

Free People

High-Rise 7/8 You're A Peach Leggings

Now you’ve got the gear—it’s time to hit the road. (After spending far too much time creating a running playlist, of course.)

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.