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3 Reasons Dressing Up for a Race Is Completely Legit

As someone who's raced 10 half-marathons, some for PRs and others just because I could, I can tell you one thing for sure: dressing up for races is FUN. Now, I haven't gone all out in a head-to-toe costume quite yet, but even just tossing on a Sparkle Athletic skirt with matching Sparkly Soul headbands is enough to add a little pizazz to my racing adventure.

I'm not the only one inspired to costume it up, either. Just a quick search of "race costumes" on Pinterest brought up thousands of pins and hundreds of boards, all with creative, quirky and sometimes totally insane ideas of how to dress up for a running adventure. So, now that I know this trend is completely awesome to more than just me, I went to the experts. And it turns out, my friends, that if dressing up is what gets you from start to finish with a smile on your face, then you could totally have the best race of your life. Here's why:

You're a part of the pack. Like I said, bandwagon-jumping is totally cool here. Research has shown that being a part of a group can have a positive effect on your mental state of being.  Now, whether that's dressing up because everyone else is doing it is totally up to you. And yes, everyone else is doing it. According to Road Runners Club of America, alternate format runs—aka powder runs, glow runs, costume runs, etc—have seen a major spike in the last two to three years. "They provide a fun opportunity for people to get active and experience the joy of participating in an event," says Executive Director Jean Knaack. "We hope [it] leads to more participation in running events down the road."

It makes you smile. While there might not be any hard stats, "athletes know they have to think positively in order to perform well," says Michele Olson, FITNESS advisory board member and professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery. "If they don't, their chances of doing well are slim to none." Translation: if you're going back and forth about whether it's "cool" to run in costume, put the dang thing on. Chances are you're going to get psyched up (and tons of cheers), which could translate into one heck of a race performance. Case in point: editorial assistant Lauren Cardarelli conquered the Disney Wine and Dine in full-blown Minnie Mouse attire, and she was so stoked about being dressed up with her buds that she busted out a speedy-for-her sub-8-minute pace. Get it, girl!

You could run faster. As if Lauren's performance wasn't proof enough, Olson notes that if dressing up for a race is what gets you fully invested in the event, then that's what matters most. "If you're going in, go all in," she says. "Any athlete will tell you that's what makes for the most positive athletic experience at any level." Of course, we're not saying that donning a pair of Minnie Mouse ears is what gave Lauren her speedy finish—hard training beforehand would be a big contributor there—but since it got her in the right head space to race, those magical ears probably didn't hurt.

And hey—dressing up isn't for everyone. After all, when I head to a race, I don't expect to see Ryan Hall dressed up as Goofy or Kara Goucher donning Superwoman duds (although she could totally pull off that title, IMO). If you're in a race to break the tape first, or even nab a super-speedy time, fussing with extra attire probably isn't your shtick. And that's fine. But if others around you do it, does it really bother you? Personally, I was inspired by the military men running 13.1 in full uniform (even the bacpack) during the Rock 'n' Roll half-marathon in Washington, D.C. I witnessed one woman in full-blown princess attire, proudly showing off a bald head because she had just finished chemotherapy treatments before the Disney Wine and Dine. And when I raced the Strip at Night in Vegas, you can bet I saw my fair share of Elvis impersonators.

So, I say forget the haters. If you want to wear a tutu, a cape or even footie pajamas, wear it with pride. At the very least, you have a great story to tell when you enjoy that post-victory brunch.

Photos from top to bottom: 

Assistant Web Editor Samantha Shelton racing the Run Rock 'n Roll D.C. half-marathon in a sparkly skirt.

Editor-in-Chief Betty Wong (far right) running the Disney half-marathon dressed as Peter Pan.

Editorial Assistant Lauren Cardarelli (middle, left of Rafiki) dressed as Minnie Mouse for the Disney Wine and Dine half-marathon.

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Samantha Lefave

Samantha is a writer who is living, eating and sweating her way through NYC. You can find her running half-marathons like it's her job, Instagramming her favorite food and fitness finds or, let's be honest, eating peanut butter straight from the jar.

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