In his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, the Japanese author Haruki Murakami says: “Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life…” It’s hard to disagree with Mr. Murakami. Running bestows upon us a great deal of physical and mental benefits. And fit, as we’re told, is the new rich. Another reason is that the kit available today has become undeniably sexy, technologically alluring and fashionably relevant. Take exhibit A: Swiss brand On Running’s seductively named Cloudflash sneakers, the soles of which are literally spring-loaded with a “speedboard”, which affords “unparalleled energy transition and fatigue resistance”, thereby dramatically reducing the risk of injury through repeated impact with the ground. The downside is that excuses for how far you can go are becoming increasingly thin on the ground.
With the wholesale adoption of athleisure by the world’s luxury brands, gym wear has entered a whole new level of style with new independent labels creating high-performance apparel designed to turn heads. Nike and adidas might dominate the sportswear market but brands such as Lucas Hugh, P.E Nation and NO KA´OI are producing stunning womenswear that performs as well as it looks. For men, Under Armour is hard to be beat on value and innovation, but brands such as 2XU—which specializes in compression tights—and Castore put performance apparel at the top of their priorities.
High-performing apparel from Castore
Take the Conrad Pezula in Knysna, South Africa, for example, where you can pit your legs against the Woodcutters trail, a stunning mountain path snaking through the 600-year-old Outeniqua Yellowwood trees of the Knysna Indigenous Forest. Or Conrad Centennial Singapore, where you can escape the buzz of Asia’s most innovative city and be bounding through the rainforest of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in no time. The one caveat of trail running is that the uneven ground calls for specialist footwear. Arguably one of the best shoes on the market right now is Salomon’s Speedcross 4, for both men and women, thanks to its lightweight but deceptively strong structure and excellent grip on loose technical trails.
If this all seems too much like hard work, then there is plenty of scope to at least look like you mean athletic business, even if you are just tiptoeing through the Conrad Macao on your way to the Bodhi Spa. Cult running brand Satisfy and French label Ron Dorff both do really sophisticated hoodies, sweats and T-shirts, while designers Philip Plein and Neil Barrett have excellent spin-off sportswear lines (PLEIN SPORT and Blackbarrett respectively). Not forgetting some fantastic sports-luxe collaborations, most notably Stella McCartney and Alexander Wang for Adidas. To give the last word to Murakami: “On the highway of life you can’t always be in the fast lane.” No you can’t. But you can look damn good on the journey.