As a kid I was like a real life Pippi Longstocking: independent, fearless, messy. I dressed in black leggings and an oversized tshirt with my school mascot on it almost every day, and didn’t give a shit. Clothing was nothing more than a way to cover my body and I had no interest in dressing to impress. My body was a tool for action and exploring my limits, and I didn’t understand how clothing could amplify it’s potential.
Softball changed that. When I was eight, we got uniforms with our names on them, crisp ball caps, tall socks and stirrups, white, rip proof pants, cleats, and a special pad for sliding. Everything had a purpose to help me play ball well, and safely, and I relied on it. For the eight years I played, my clean uniform laid out on my bed made me feel electric just looking at it…my white pants a canvas for all the dirt from bases yet to be stolen.
The same thing happened when I became a runner in high school. The varsity cross country jersey vibrated with the seven years of League Titles that came before me, and the team lore was that wearing it for the first time was worth at least a 20 second PR. At Stanford and in my 12 years as a pro, my race kit continued to bring out my power on the track, and now as I rehab from Achilles surgery, my Oiselle racing kit is pinned on the wall next to my bedside as a form of encouragement. It takes my optimism and determination dials and cranks them up, simply by looking at it.
It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I learned that what I’d been tapping into for years was science. It was the power of enclothed cognition, and the discovery that you can use something external like clothing to amplify what’s on the inside. All it takes is conscious or subconscious association with something powerful you would like to embody.
Wearing a doctor’s coat doesn’t make you a doctor, but it is proven to make you perform better on a cognition test because of what a doctor’s coat represents. Running gear can do the same thing. For example, the bolt design makes me feel like a live wire when I put it on, and makes me want to stand a little bit taller. It is my choice on the days I want to bring my A game. The Pro Kit warmups make me feel like I belong on the podium, and on the flip side, the Go Joggings make me feel calm and supported, so I reach for them when I want to relax or be creative.
In the end, a pair of holey black leggings and an oversized roadrunner tshirt will never stop me from doing what I want with my body. And when I do pick out something nicer than that, it’s not to fill a hole inside me, or to present an illusion of myself to others. I dress for me. Most of the time like Pippi Longstocking. But a few times a week I dress with intention, to turn what’s softly playing deep inside me, up. Then, all that’s left to do is fully embody it. That’s what the run is for.
LAUREN FLESHMAN'S FALL STYLES