Couch to 5K

A Good Resource for Workout Clothes

Today was week 4, run 2. I felt so-so running today, but I had a little boost from an unexpected source.

As I mentioned in previous blogs, I have lost quite a bit of weight lately. Over 43 pounds since October. I am not even close to my goal weight yet, so I am reluctant to shell out a lot of cash for clothing, but I have shrunk enough that I really cannot wear the same clothes anymore. They won't stay up, let alone support me comfortably. (I lost about 11" around my navel, and lots more elsewhere besides.)

With exercise-type clothes, there is a fair amount of leeway for size, since they are so stretchy, and I started taking in shoulder straps and waistbands here and there, but I am not any good as a seamstress. I didn't want to have to spend a lot on "transition" clothes, and felt silly anyways spending much on clothes for running when I have only been at it a few weeks.

I was in a second-hand clothing store looking for a camisole, and stumbled across a *treasure trove* of quality workout clothes. I mean good stuff, from major brands, in excellent condition. There were more running shirts and running tops than I could possibly want or need. There were dozens of exercise pants. I had my pick of all of it, and ended up with 2 "new" pairs of pants and 4 tops. Now when I dress for my run in my official running gear (as opposed to my old ratty t-shirt that reaches mid-thigh and hole-riddled pants I have to cinch extra tight to keep above my hips), I feel like a real runner. And the entire collection was only about $35 dollars (under 20 pounds sterling).

Maybe others here will have a similar experience. A couple observations about thrift store workout clothes, however.

*There were more workout clothes in smaller sizes - less in the larger sizes. Possibly small people stop working out, become big people and donate their clothes...

*Finding really quality stuff takes patience, luck and discrimination. For every true running top, there were a dozen "wannabes" that looked sporty, but were poorly made, made from the wrong fabrics, or were only designed to look like running gear, rather than be running gear.

*Timing is everything - some weeks, your local thrift shop may get a donation from a generous runner in your size, and sometimes they may have nothing useful. It could take a few trips.

*Finally, there are three things I didn't even hope to find at the thrift shop: good running shoes that fit, running socks, a proper sports bra. The last would depend on your personal needs. If all you need is a light shelf bra, there will be plenty. I, however, am rather buxom, and need a solid, supportive, running bra. Unsurprisingly, I had to get mine new from a shop.

Happy treasure hunting to anyone else looking for cheap duds!

10 Replies

Here in the UK, the quality of the stuff available in thrift shops (or charity shops as we call them) depends a bit on where you live. The more prosperous the area, the better the stuff. In my area, good-quality running clothes would be pretty thin on the ground - with few professional gyms locally, and most exercise classes held in village and church halls, people just turn up in whatever old T-shirts and basic trackie bottoms they've got. But many of the charity shops also stock stuff donated by businesses, so you can easily pick up new clothes at a fraction of the price. Found a completely new pair of Marks & Spencers lycra workout trousers in the British Heart Foundation shop last week, and they only cost me a couple of pounds.


It makes sense that the prosperity of the area would affect the charity shops. I am glad you were able to find a nice pair of trousers in spite of living in an area with limited used-clothing options. :)


I used to wear the rattiest clothes to workout in, after all, I was just going to be sweating. Then something clicked and I realized that I needed to take a little pride in what I was doing. I was making a huge effort to exercise and get in shape, why look my worst while doing it. I have since bought myself (often second-hand) some well-fitting, appropriate workout wear. What a difference! It is really important to "look the part" and honor this part of your life.


You hit the nail on the head. I don't normally think much about "looking the part", but there is an important psychological component. For me, I feel extra motivated to "deserve" the clothes I got, by doing my best at each workout. I also notice that people seem to treat me differently than when I wore the old t-shirt. It's like I transformed into a legitimate runner just by donning a decent shirt. :)


oooh, I never thought of looking in a charity shop for running stuff, will give it a try, our town is littered with them :)


Best of luck in your hunt! I love the idea of re-using old stuff and keeping it out of landfills too.


What a brilliant idea! Finding it hard to get stuff washed and dried in this goddam awful rain!!!!!



It is definitely nice to have a spare outfit or two, so that washing is less of a chore. Good luck with the treasure hunt.


Also the light weight running wear dries a lot faster than a cotton, doesn't wrinkle and takes less space.


Ah, you are speaking to the converted...I have bought charity shop gear for many years. Most days at work I take pride in the fact that I can look down at myself and usually at least one item, more likely most of my outfit, is from charity shops. Not ever found any work out gear in them tho!

Totnes is brilliant for great 2nd hand stuff - they have great markets and it's all very "hippy"! Still no lycra tho! :(


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