Tech Shirts Stink

I’m done running in technical t-shirts. They stink and they’re uncomfortable. Every race t-shirt I’ve collected over the last few years is stinky, scratchy, and fits like a burlap sack. In fact, I’m starting to really enjoy running in my (gulp) cotton blend t-shirts.

Let’s start with the stink factor. When I go for a run in my tech shirts they wick not only the sweat off my body, but every molecule of revolting body odor. When I enter the house after a run, my wife will hold her nose as say something like “Whoa, you sweat out some serious toxins today.” It’s her polite way of saying “Yuck! You smell like #$%!”

Even after washing tech shirts thoroughly the odor remains. It’s not just me. As a family of runners, we have a lot of stinky gear to wash each week. We’ve tried everything from special detergents to washing items by hand with no luck.

I have a collection of prized tech shirts from the New York City Marathon, the Philadelphia Marathon, the San Diego Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon, and dozens of other race events. They’re nice to look at, but they rarely make it out the door for a run. In fact, they rarely make it out of the bottom drawer of my dresser.

Tech shirts are too scratchy and too obviously running-specific to be worn as regular shirts. The fabric is mostly cheap. And, the boxy, rectangular fit of generic race t-shirts just isn’t flattering for most runners.

Not all tech shirts are bad. In fact, if you’re willing to pay a premium price, you can find some excellent tech shirts that feel good, wash well, and fit nicely. Just don’t expect to find those in your swag bag on race day.

Tech Tees Suck

Rocky’s not a fan of tech tees.

Lately, I’ve found myself reaching for my well-worn cotton/polyester blend t-shirts. They’re comfortable, and they can be worn anywhere, anytime. They even wash well and seem to last forever.

My old-school Santa Monica Track Club shirt, my Run NH shirt, and my Saunders 10K shirts are some of my personal favorites. They’re thin enough to be worn during workouts and comfortable enough to be worn all day. I think cotton is poised for a comeback.

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Many runners will argue that cotton spells disaster. In my experience, chafing has never been a problem unless the shirt is soaking wet. In which case, it’s either raining (and your tech tee would be a  problem too), or if you’re a guy, it’s boiling hot and you would probably feel better running shirtless anyway.

I’ll admit, another bonus to wearing a cotton t-shirt is seeing a v-shaped sweat line after a run. It’s visual evidence of hard work and physical exertion. It’s a badge of honor among the harrier nation. Come to think of it, I’d probably still get the same reaction from my wife.

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