Decluttering Dilemma: What to Do with Those Darn Race Shirts

Every New Year, I’m infected with decluttering fever. Nothing is safe.

Sooner or later, I get around to my closet. Not that it’s particularly problematic. I’ve long had rules to limit accumulation of stuff. For example, when a new pair of shoes comes in, an old pair goes out. I denote which items are worn and which just take up space by turning hangers. I constant purge things that don’t fit, passing them on to friends, resale shops, daughters, and charities.

Yes, my street clothes are constantly updated, edited, and organized.

My workout wear, though, is a big mess. There’s just too much stuff, largely due to magically multiplying event shirts.

Earlier in 2015, I updated my exercise bras. I chunked those that were worn out, stretched, or no longer fit and found replacements, a job in and of itself.

With that work thankfully done, I focused solely on culling the contents of two big drawers and an under-bed storage box stuffed with workout clothes. I pulled everything out of the bins, firmly resolving to keep only what I actually wore or needed.

Reducing Workout Clothes Clutter

Race T-Shirts

  1. Because I’m not currently biking or spinning,  cycling clothes went into the storage box. Out of season tank tops and light-weight skorts joined them.
  1. Rather than organize drawers by type of clothing (shirts in one bin, stuff for my bottom half – shorts, tights, skorts – in another), I grouped by activity. I designated the smaller bin for yoga and gym clothes, the bigger for running wear.
  1. Into the smaller drawer went sleeveless tanks, Capri pants, and longer shorts that stay put when I’m in downward dog. I added in shorts and tees I like to wear to the gym.
  1. I placed running clothes in the bigger bin: my favorite Nike shorts, seamless running tights, warm-up pants, and long-sleeved shirts  worn religiously when cold.

Uh-oh; I was in trouble; the running drawer was already quite full, and yet a mountainous pile of shirts remained. Some serious weeding lay ahead.

I looked at the remaining long-sleeved shirts. There was the Rocky Raccoon 50 Miler race tee (oh, that was a significant come-back race), several Bandera shirts of varying distances, special Distance Challenge Motorola Marathon fleece zip-up, and my commemorative Pikes Peak Marathon jacket that attracts and holds pet hair with a vengeance. (Our dog Boo has been dead for about five years now, and his doggie dander still decorates the sleeves. And it’s been washed.)

While these possessed certain sentimental value, none had actually seen daylight in years. I thanked each piece of clothing for its service before yanking the emotional Band-Aid off in one quick motion. With the exception of the Pikes Peak jacket (now an emergency jacket in my car), all went into the “get rid of” bag.

A huge mound of short-sleeved running shirts still awaited sorting. Sigh.

  1. All current training group and coaching gig shirts were keepers, as they’re essentially uniforms and work clothes.
  1. I determined which shirts I’d worn in the fall. While I hadn’t put them on recently, that was due to weather and not desire.
  1. What remained were a jillion race shirts and volunteer tees that hadn’t been worn in a year or more. I looked at those full bins and realized there was no need to analyze or debate. These just needed to go.

With that, all exercise clothing had been appropriately placed. My drawers were neatly organized, workout wear was easily accessible, and I had full bags of items that needed a new athlete.

Preserving That Special Race Shirt Memory

Race T-Shirts

Sometimes, it’s not a shirt you want to keep but the event’s memory.

You can lose the clothes but hang onto the sentiments through photos of those special race tees. Create a virtual album on Facebook, complete with comments; post pics on Instagram; create an actual scrapbook. Then, pass on all that nice unused and unwanted workout apparel to someone who will enjoy it. And relish your increased drawer space.

About Shirts from Races You Didn’t Do…

Some folks have a real hang-up about people wearing shirts from events they didn’t participate in or even finish. (I remember a particularly venomous thread on a now-defunct runners’ forum about this very topic.) My thoughts? I roll my eyes and mutter “first world problems.”

If your moral compass prohibits wearing a shirt from an event you didn’t do, don’t. But pass on judging others. Technical fabric apparel is expensive and many are on tight budgets. Better for shirts to be worn than trashed, and I’m sure race directors appreciate the exposure.

One of my favorite shirts right now is from a trail race I didn’t run. The race directors, who are friends, cleared out extra inventory and I snagged a piece of inexpensive quality apparel I love — win/win!

(Visited 84 times, 1 visits today)

Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

4 thoughts on “Decluttering Dilemma: What to Do with Those Darn Race Shirts

  1. Right on!

    I\’ve tried to grow increasingly less sentimental about \”stuff\” over the years (though truth be told, race shirts and medals I have absolutely no sentimentality about) – this was made easier when our apartment was broken into a few years ago and all my jewelry (including my wedding bands which I didn\’t wear that day) were taken – heirloom jewelry, all my real jewelry, the necklace I had made with all my children\’s names and birthdates on it. I had to tell myself, \”It\’s just stuff and it\’s replaceable.\” The memories are not and those can never be taken from me.

    As for everything else, I am a big believer in no-hoarding, de-cluttering, minimal acquisition. Begin a Virgo plus moving to Europe helped with that.

  2. Leah, you could always make a tshirt quilt/blanket with the sentimental shirts.

    I do agree it feels good to clean out and organize. It\’s funny how attached we get to our \”stuff\”. I\’m trying to keep just the really good stuff that I actually use and let the rest go. In fact, Jill helped me organize my closet last weekend!

    Great blog as always. See you soon!

    1. True, a quilt is always an option. In fact, I had saved many of my tees for years, thinking that (one day) I\’d make a quilt/have a quilt made. Once we downsized, there just wasn\’t the luxury of storing all those shirts in the event that someday, I\’d make a quilt or pay $$ to have one sewn.

      But I realize that lots of people might like that option. Just wasn\’t worth it to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.