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October 15, 2015

How the Outside Affects the Inside

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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LAUREN FLESHMAN'S FALL STYLES

 
 

Comments

Jillian Murphy | October 15, 2015 at 11:31am

This speaks to me!

I felt this way at track meets and field hockey games in high school, rowing regattas in college, and when I just went on a shopping spree via Oiselle for my half marathon coming up on Team Every Mother Counts. I couldn't quite identify why I felt this way, or if anyone else did, but this article speaks to me so much! I remember feeling pride and strength in putting on my uniforms, and not in a vein way, but I felt like I could perform better if my hair was brushed and my cleats/spikes were clean. There was something about the armor of a presentable exterior that made me feel like a fierce competitor. I have always felt more confident stepping up to the starting line this way. The outside affects the inside... it's so true! I'm hoping my EMC singlet and Oiselle arm warmers make me speedy in my debut at the distance!

Jen | October 15, 2015 at 2:42pm

So true

I absolutely believe this. When I don't feel like getting my run or workout done, I promise myself that if I do it I can wear my bright orange Pop Rogas. Those shorts get me through many workouts. Knowing that I can put on something fun (or pretty, or stylish, or comfortable) makes doing the workout that much easier. And knowing that I look awesome definitely helps me perform better.

Danielle | March 12, 2016 at 11:05am

Absolutely agree!! I've got

Absolutely agree!! I've got one pair of "lucky socks" that have gotten me through 5000+ miles, every race, every doctors visit, exam, etc just fine. Every run I wore them for was fantastic, and every time I didn't wear them it was just okay. They were once white and now are a very nice shade of tan with tons of holes. I had two MRIs which they made me remove my socks, both times were for serious injuries that sidelined me for multiple months. It's the little things I guess.