It’s nearly that time of year when witches and vampires come out, when ghouls and goblins and superheroes roam the neighborhood. Yes, Halloween is almost here, and costumes are on everyone’s mind.

But Halloween isn’t just about dressing up to down heaps of candy. It’s also a time for Halloween-themed races—events like the Haunted Half Provo, the San Francisco Costume Dash 5K, and the Great GO! St. Louis Halloween Race, to name a few. (Search terms like “Halloween” and “costume” on to find more.) Costume-friendly runs are a great way to get your fitness fix, while keeping the fun factor as priority number one. In fact, if you’re eager to try costumed running, you can find themed events throughout the year. Or, simply start a dress-up tradition at your next race; chances are, plenty of other runners will follow your lead.

Before you head for the start line dressed head-to-toe as a hairy ape, however, consider what makes a good race costume. Even if you’re not taking the race too seriously from a competitive standpoint, running in a costume can get complicated. Here are our top tips to help you choose a race costume that is fun, yet also comfortable and functional.

1) Get Technical

Just because you’re running in a costume, don’t ignore everything you’ve ever known about technical fabric. Namely, that it’s the best, most breathable option for exercise. Actually, some of the run gear you already own may work well as part of your costume. Running tights and tops can be easily transformed into superhero, cat burglar, or racecar driver suits. White base layers work wonderfully as the foundation for a running Elvis outfit.

2) Stay Sporty

Another approach is to dress as an athlete—albeit something other than a runner. Think gymnast, ice skater, World Cup soccer star, or Olympic luge champion. And of course, there’s always dodgeball. Wearing an athlete costume guarantees you’ll be dressed to perform.

3) Heed the Basics

No matter your costume, there are a few basics you can’t ignore–for your own comfort as well as for safety’s sake. You need to be able to breathe, see, hear, and drink. Therefore, running in a full mask or helmet is not advised, unless it’s been altered to allow all of the above.

4) Keep it Cool

Think about how you’ll feel in your costume—not only on your way to the start line, but at mile 10 of your half marathon. Dressing as Sasquatch may seem like a smart idea at first, until you get beyond your warm up and start to sweat like an overheated Yeti.

5) Be Considerate

Remember, you won’t be the only one on the racecourse—and some runners may be taking the event a bit more seriously than you. Make sure your costume won’t block other athletes, or interfere with their enjoyment of the race.

6) Make Your Move

Be sure you can run in whatever costume you choose. Put it on and practice. Are your arms free to swing and your legs free to stride? If not, you may need to make some minor adjustments. For example, a floor-length toga can be hemmed to mini-skirt length.

With all this in mind, you’re ready to get cracking on your running costume—whether an athlete, an animal, a celebrity, or an historical icon. Really, you can be anyone or anything you want—just be sure you dress up with a reasonable degree of safety and comfort. Or, you can even go the minimalist route. sThere are plenty of runs (like Bay to Breakers or the Bare Burro 5K) where the only costume many runners opt for is their birthday suit.

Happy Halloween!

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