Function Over Aesthetic

How do we pick what’s RIGHT, not just what’s PRETTY?

The running arena has come a long way from what it was back in the 90s. Scrap white-coloured gym shirts and trainers! Go to any of the running races this weekend and you’ll see bright and pretty colours splashed across the park. I may stand corrected, but I think one big reason why this is the case is because more and more women are running! When us ladies started to storm the running scene, we want what we always want in everything else we do – to look hot!

So that gave birth to a whole new breed of runners, men and women alike – the competitive, tenacious and dressed to kill on race day! However, before we get carried away in how good we look in our run selfies, let’s not forget that functionality should always take top priority. Here are some things to look out for the next time you go shopping for new running swag!

1. Smooth, Seamless and Lightweight Fabric

If you’ve ever experienced chafing, you know its not fun. The worst part is hitting the shower after your run! The sting can be a real dampener on our running highs, that’s for sure. When you look for running clothes, try to make sure the fabric is lightweight and as smooth as possible. Common chafing areas are your collarbones, underarms and nipples for men. Applying anti-chafing cream does help, but if you want to avoid it altogether, look out for seamless fabrics that wick away sweat as much as possible. While stretchy polyester is usually the main component of dry fit fabrics, having a percentage of cotton would help increase comfort and higher absorbance of sweat.

2. Form Fitting Clothes

When you run, your range of motion can be quite wide. As a runner, you will tend to choose clothes that are quite form fitting. While the slim cut of such clothing can reduce draft and make you look good, sometimes having it too tight poses the risk of chafing, or worse, reduction of oxygen. If you’re wearing compression wear, try to follow the measurements that are stated on the sizing guide. This can usually be found on the package it comes with. The tighter it is doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting better compression. Take deep breaths when you’re trying it out, as you know you will be breathing heavily when you’re running. For regular running clothes, just ensure your running form is not restricted, and it isn’t too loose either. Loose clothing can also be the cause of chafing.

3. Bounce-free Sports Bras

Ladies, you should always test your sports bras in the store before making a purchase. One thing to note is that sport bras are meant to be tight and supportive. When you put it on in the changing room, jog on the spot and make sure it gives you the right support you need. As much as we want to have some curves, getting a size too big can actually be detrimental to the health of our muscles. If you have any doubt about finding the right size, talk to the sales consultant in the store, they should be able to help you out with some measurements.

4. Breathability is Critical

In Malaysia, high humidity in our air is all year round. When you go for a run or workout, the clothes you wear should be breathable. Sweating is inevitable but when you keep sweating and your clothes do not wick it away, you risk getting chafed or your body temperature might go up pretty high. This can lead to dehydration and cramps. One way to know if your running clothes are breathable or not, wear them at home or when you’re out, but not during a run. If you find that you feel very warm even though you’re not even exercising, chances are that fabric is not breathable enough. Choose fabrics that have micro breathing holes in them for better breathability.

5. Shoes Should Stay Put

There are many different things to look at when picking out your next new pair of running shoes. Because there are so many types of footwear for runners out there, you would need to do a little bit of studying to ensure you pick the right shoe for you whether it’s for stability, helps and reduces pronation, et cetera. Sure, colour and design are important too, but even more than that is the sizing. Runners tend to pick a size bigger than they should because they were told that their feet expand in the heat, which they do to a small extent, however, your running shoes should not be too big that your feet can move around in it. Your feet should be nice and snugly fitted in your shoes. Look out for the inside edges of the shoes’ insoles and ensure that they’re comfortable and not sticking out. Choose shoes with laces that aren’t slippery or can easily come undone when you tie them tightly. And always put both sides on in the shoe shop and do a mini run around the premises when you’re deciding.

So, when Christmas comes around and you have a couple of these items on your wish list, don’t forget to add a little note to your Santa on the specifics of the gift. Otherwise, it may be best that you bring that person along with you.

Happy shopping!

Karen Siah

Karen Siah is a certified Fitness Coach and Founder of KiaKaha Fitness – a fitness company which provides personal training, group exercise classes and corporate fitness programs. Being the only girl in her family, Karen grew up strongly influenced by her father and brothers who are active swimmers, runners and triathletes. She started as a rhythmic gymnast in school and competed in national gymnastics meets. Now, she is a keen marathon runner and triathlete and has competed in many marathons and triathlons. She has a strong passion for living fit and healthy, and aims to spread the good word of an active lifestyle to the people around her, with hopes of brightening the future for fellow Malaysians through healthy living. Follow her article series in Running Malaysia Magazine for tips and advice on how you can live a healthier and fitter lifestyle. If you have any queries, you can contact her via e-mail at