The purple jacket.

My husband gave me a purple running jacket for Christmas. I love it – and not just because it’s lightweight, wind and water resistant, and breathable. I love it because of what it represents. For the past ten years, I’ve been a sponsored athlete. Now, before you jump to conclusions, let me assure you that this does not mean that I’m a professional runner. I don’t get paid to run. I have a day job just like everyone else. However, it does mean that I have been supplied with free shoes and gear from my awesome sponsor, inov-8, and for this I am eternally grateful. However, with sponsorship sometimes come limitations.

Part of being a sponsored athlete means running in the team uniform, which, for some reason is often black or red. Maybe team managers believe that these colors are flashy and good for intimidating the competition. I agree – I always feel like a bad*** when I’m decked out in black. Black makes me feel like I’m a serious competitor – mean and ready to take on the world. Don’t mess with me when I’ve got on my team kit and my game face.

Recently, however, this persona hasn’t really reflected who I feel I am as a runner. After thirty-one years of being competitive in the sport, I’m feeling the need to take my running – and myself – a little less seriously.  Hence, the purple jacket. Not only is purple my favorite color, it’s also a fun color. A color that says, “Don’t take me too seriously.” A color that for me, promises lightness, spontaneity, and adventure. A color that mirrors the delicate wild irises that grace the trail in the early spring and the vivid sunrises that greet me on quiet winter mornings.

You may still occasionally see me sporting the eye-catching uniform of my team sponsor, and when that happens, look out – I mean business. But for the coming year, my goal is to have more purple jacket days. Days when I will run the trail just because it’s there, enjoying the journey and forgetting about mileage, splits, competition and PRs. Days when I will run from the heart and not the ego. What will your purple jacket days bring?