The other day, I was getting dressed to go out for a run when something caught my eye. On the back of my race shirt, mixed in with dozens of sponsor names and logos, were ads for a hunting store, a septic service company, and a soft drink company. I don’t hunt animals, I don’t drink soda, and I could care less about Dave’s Septic Service. So, why am I running around advertising their services for free? The shirt’s not even that great to begin with. I was so irrationally upset at the thought of being an unintentional billboard runner, that I actually turned the shirt inside out before putting it on. It’s bright orange, so at least it’ll keep me from getting run over. I hope.

Some running shirts are special. I reserve my favorite shirts for my toughest workouts. My long-sleeved 2013 NYC Marathon shirt is great for long runs on cool days, my Santa Monica Track Club t-shirt is my good luck charm on the track, and I sport my Saltmarsh Running gear at races. But, most of the time, I’m running in tech tees with gaudy branding and lots of text on the back. I’m considering going back to ‘old school’ cotton t-shirts just to be contrarian.

I appreciate race sponsors and their support for runners, and I like to represent brands that I believe in. It’s just that sometimes those two ideas conflict with one another. 

AthletesCollective welcome package

You can run in affordable, but completely unbranded activewear. AthletesCollective, is a Canadian company that offers guys a chance to take the ego out of sports by wearing gear that’s both functional and discreet. They reached out to see if I might share my thoughts with you on the gear they make. I agreed, and a few days later, the standard AthletesCollective welcome package arrived with my shirts, a water bottle, a bag, and a pack of 1990 MLB baseball cards that my 12-year-old son has already claimed as his own.

running in an AthletesCollective shirt

AthletesCollective shirts are very generic looking, and that’s the point. They’re made from a comfortable, pre-shrunk, polyester/spandex blend that breathes well and moves with your body. The collar around the neck stands up just a bit in the back, but the length and fit are just right for my svelte 6′ 4″ frame. The shirts sell for about %30 less than similar gear sold by popular running brands. In my opinion, you get what you pay for in terms of fit and style. But, if you want affordable, functional workout gear without the flair, you might want to check them out. Use exclusive promo code RUNNER15 to take %15 off your order. Most orders qualify for free shipping.

Whatever gear you choose to run in, just keep running. Truth be told, I’d rather run without a shirt any day of the week.

Thoughts?