If you’ve never done a Halloween run, a Santa race or any themed running event, you may be in for a serious surprise when you don a costume for the first time. It’s a ton of fun, but the costume you choose could come back to haunt you. If you’re not wearing a runner-friendly costume, here’s a rough checklist to make sure your run isn’t unnecessarily painful:
YOU MIGHT NEED EXTRA CLOTHES
Most costumes are not made with high-tech sweat-wicking performance fabrics. That means even if the temperatures are dropping rapidly, that foam material that makes up your burger costume will create a sauna effect the minute you start to sweat. On the flip side, there are plenty of costumes that seem smart when you buy them, but their flimsy fabrics are chilly when worn in late October.
Expect any heavy materials to cause you to overheat, so if you’re planning on hitting a costume party after the run, bring a change of under-costume clothes so you aren’t soaked in sweat while bobbing for apples. If your costume is drafty, consider adding a layer underneath.
YOU SHOULD HAVE A DRESS REHEARSAL
Like the climate-control issue, costume seams are not made with runners in mind, so if you don’t wear a running-appropriate base-layer underneath, you may find your thighs and underarms getting chafed by scratchy seams. Test your costume before running in it, since some seams can be taped down with medical or duct tape, and loose scratchy strands can be snipped. If the costume isn’t already too hot, add a layer of actual run clothes underneath to prevent this.
AVOID MASKS AT ALL COSTS
A mask makes running extremely tough. Small eyeholes, no space to spit and no way to blow a snot rocket are few reasons a mask is not a runner’s ideal costume choice. You might be more worried about a bulky torso to a costume, but really, a mask is less than ideal. If you must wear a mask, look for ones with big eye holes and firm attachment points that can stand up to bouncing around. The last thing you want is to trip and fall because you can’t see — even if your costume is hilarious.
TRAILING FABRICS LEAD TO TRIPPING
Because most costumes aren’t made with the highest quality stitching, your mummy costume may spontaneously start unraveling as you run. This is especially hilarious if it’s a mummy costume, but it’s less funny if someone steps on it and you end up getting bowled over by other costumed sprinters because you got tangled up. Test-run a few blocks with your costume if you’re worried about it, or pick a costume that definitely won’t unravel or touch the ground.
IT’S FUN AND IT’S ALSO ANNOYING
Everyone waxes poetic about how much fun and how exhilarating it is to race in a costume, and yes, it can be a really fun day. But like any race or run, there might be some points where you just wish you were done. Especially if you’re sweaty or freezing, there will be tough moments in the race. As a regular runner, you might find yourself frustrated if you’re feeling slowed by your costume — try to remember the fun and forget the PR.
Your costume may not change your pace; it might slow you down, or the feeling of running down the road in a Big Bird suit might transform you into the most natural, speedy version of yourself. No matter its effect, you’ll feel unencumbered by society’s standards of what a runner should look like. When you’re rocking a zombie costume or a full-blown santa suit, you’re free to run however you want — go for that epic sprint or slow to a crawl if you’re not in the mood. Embrace your anonymity and enjoy the run!
THERE’S ALWAYS CANDY
Best advice? Hide some Halloween candy in one of your pockets for a mid-race pick-me-up if you know you might start regretting your costume choice.