"I'd rather be seen on my bicycle than on a park run" - Quote from the dark side

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Long Live The Cotton T-Shirt!


After reading this post by Molly from I’m a SleeperBaker, I had to write something about my cotton t-shirts. I definitely prefer cotton shirts above tech shirts.

Cotton shirts wipe blood, mud, tears, snot and whatever else off way better than tech shirts do. They also stay wet longer so keep you much cooler, but most of all, they don’t chafe as tech shirts do. Tech shirts are chafe masters, cotton is king!


Well, that’s my experience anyway. I love my cotton shirts! I have 274 new ones waiting to be used…for training. All from various races over the years. I’m working through the piles and are currently at 1997 – 1998 with a few 1996 and 1999 ones popping up in between.


I do have many tech shirts too. 77 to be precise.  I don’t like them much. Some are nice to wear and show off some races I’ve done, but training and running in them sucks.

I do most trail races in tech shirts though. I even do some long training runs in them to get used to the yucky material. The reason is that I need to run with a plain shirt when racing as not to cause any advertising issues. I don’t have any plain cotton shirts left and I don’t buy t-shirts…ever! The plain tech shirts I have were all gifts from family and friends.


So there you have it. I for one…the only one…??? say “long live the cotton t-shirt!”

34 comments:

Kovas Palubinskas said...

I for one like cotton, but usually wear tech stuff since I sweat so much. During the summer I try to go shirtless when possible, but only if people aren't around.

Molly said...

love this Johann!!! wow, 274 waiting to be used! I agree about the wipe off factor, it's hard to blow your nose on a tech : )

Amy said...

I have to respectfully disagree - I much prefer tech shirts to cotton - cotton just seems to get so heavy with the sweat, I can't stand it! But why do you then run trail races in a tech shirt if you don't like them? I'm confused!

Mike said...

You have to race with a plain shirt for advertising issues? I don't understand.

Marlene said...

Wow, I have never heard from someone that they prefer cotton! Interesting.

Also never heard of advertising issues with logos on shirts in races. Is that a rule?

Johann said...

Race shirts will always have sponsor logos on and we are not allowed to "advertise" in races.

Robin said...

very interesting! Since I started running I've only worn the tech shirt, never tried racing in the cotton, so not sure!

Jill said...

That's interesting about the advertising and racing....here, if you have a race shirt from someone (chucked full of advertisements or not), you can wear it at another race...in fact, I think people do that to brag a bit. "Hey, look at me, I ran Pikes Peak!!" :) I never wear my Boston or Pikes Peak shirt at races because I don't want to seem like a jerk.

I admire that you've kept all your race shirts - I really wish I would have done that from years ago, I can't remember half the races I did and this would certainly be a walk down memory lane. But I throw them out or donate them as I just don't feel I have the space.

One thing I've noticed about my sweaty running son and tech shirts, the armpit smell sure lingers in those technical fabrics - bleh!!!

The Sean said...

Good point on the cooling effect of the sweat logged cotton. Summer speed work in a cotton T can be great... near sunset while the air is cooling. And of course, the "extra" weight is a bonus- even if that weight was already in you before being sweated to its current locale.

Thomas Bussiere said...

Great topic Johann – Tech vs. Cotton! I think a good healthy disagreement is good to root-out the advantages of each.

Personally, I prefer tech shirts over cotton for long races / training runs because it minimizes chaffing, feels lighter, and dries quicker. Additionally, not all tech shirts are created equally, which I’ve discovered the hard way. Some are very course (cheaper - most race shirts) which makes chaffing worse than cotton (especially the nips). I pay a little more for high quality tech shirts which are smoother (no chaffing issues), dries quickly, and feel light. If the temps are colder outside, then I use both tech and cotton (cotton is so much warmer because of the density of fabric and keeps the heat in - wear long sleeve cotton over the short sleeve tech).

Bottom line – Use what works for you. It’s like a running shoe, what works on my foot may not work on yours.

Kate said...

My brother likes cotton shirts because of the chafing issue, though he's come around on the cotton socks issue. I prefer tech fabrics for myself, especially running in the cold weather.

Really interesting about the running/advertising thing. I'd never have thought of that.

Laura said...

Love reading this! I sweat like crazy so cotton is not my friend.

Karen said...

I agree! For race shirs - I much prefer to receive a cotton one.

Mark said...

Excellent insight!!

Liz said...

I love a cotton race souvenir t-shirt for relaxing in, but I must admit, I like to do my sweating in a tach tee!

Raina said...

SA has a LOT of race rules and regulations! Wowzers--no advertising? How can a person get a sponsor there? lol..

You have a style all your own, Johann! I love it! Enjoy those cotton Ts- all of them :)

Char said...

Johann you have a little dinosaur in you. But who cares?! If it works for you keep doing it. It sounds like you'll never have to buy another t-shirt in your lifetime.

ajh said...

That is so many unused shirts! Will you ever use them all?

Alma said...

That's a LOT of shirts - 77? You must only have to do laundry once every couple months!

ultra collie said...

i think with our climate cotton would be a disaster on long mountain runs..glad it suits you though :)

Staci said...

I am wi you on the cotton - I train in my race t-shirts and always do a long run in cotton. I don't like tech shirts, they smell more and the "wet" feel clings to my skin.
I haven't been running nearly as long as you and I too have loads of race t's that I don't think I will ever wear.

cheryl said...

Have run in cotton for 40 years...don't know what happened to my Pikes Peak finisher's shirt tho...maybe they didn't have one or maybe I wore it out wearing it on my other mtn. runs! Happy training and racing (you will LOVE Pikes!)

lindsay said...

I still run in cotton sometimes but I don't mind the tech shirts. 77!! That is a lot. I think I own like 5.

On the Right Track said...

Hey Johann...thanks for stopping by my blog!! I appreciate it!!

sounds like you have PLENTY of shirts to get you by...I like tech shirts to run in...but i don't mind cotton either as long as it is soft...and i am quite a sweater...

Lots of rules there,huh?

HappyTrails said...

I sweat like a fiend, so cotton is out for exercise wear for me. It is especially bad when the temps drop at altitude, as you catch a chill quite quickly. But for casual, nothing beats cotton undershirts!
S

Nick said...

It all depends where you live. In a hot climate you welcome the cooling effect of sweat-laden cotton, but here in the UK (like ultra collie suggested) hypothermia would never be far away it se didn't wear technical layer(s).

That's a lot of race shirts, BTW. It's such a shame that you're not allowed to wear them at races. I assumed those strict rules only applied to the big one - Comrades.

Nick said...

Don't know what happened there. That should have been "if we".

Lisa said...

i turned a bunch of mine into a quilt, but my husband wears his. They are never a women's cut, so I never wear mine

Black Knight said...

Long live the cotton t-shirt for the normal daily life (and I use all of them) but to run I prefer the tech ones.

Scott McMurtrey said...

That's a lot of shirts! :)

HappyTrails said...

Johann - Thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind comments - all of the kind words from folks such as you have brightened my day! We are looking forward to meeting you and your lovely bride in August - it will be a highlight of the summer! And wow! You have a lot of shirts! Where do you keep them all???!!!
K

Mark said...

I do like tech shirts a lot for running. Usually the only time I'll wear a cotton shirt is on a cold day, and as an outer shirt, with a sleeveless or short sleeve tech shirt underneath a long sleeve cotton shirt.

Tech shirts given as race shirts used to be rare, now they seem to be standard.

So, with cotton shirts becoming rare, I have started to appreciate them more.

And while I haven't experienced the heat and humidity of South Africa, I don't think I'd get through my summer training runs in Florida in a cotton shirt.

Giorgio said...

I love getting cotton T-shirt as race souvenir although to run I prefer the tech ones.

Lauren said...

Great post. I like cotton as well. But I think I prefer the tech shirt. I find the same as you, the cotton wipes blood, mud, etc. better and they don't chafe. The only complaint I have with the cotton is that they NEVER dry and are so heavy because I sweat buckets. Most often, I pick the tech. I am second guessing this weekend's race though.