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May 26, 2010 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Is it a good idea to run a race in a zentai suit?

Previously on the blue part.

In a couple of weeks I'm running the Caveman Crawl here in Texas. It's a 5k obstacle course. It'll be in the morning but it'll still likely be hot, muggy, and will definitely be muddy. I want to run it in a full zentai suit.

Here are my concerns:
It will be too hot. Lycra is supposed to "increase breathability," but I'm dubious.
It will become see-through as I sweat. Maybe depending on color?
The fabric will be too fragile, though I guess things like compression shorts are very durable. Wikipedia says those are usually made of spandex.
If I get mud on the face of a full-faced one I'll be blind. This is the least of my worries as I'm pretty sure it's true, and I could just take the hood off or get one with eye holes which kinda look cooler anyway.

All of the ones I've seen are spandex, lycra, or spandex/lycra (aren't they the same thing?) and occasionally "PU coated Lycra." I assume PU is polyurethane?

Bonus: might a reflective metallic suit decrease my heat absorption from the sun significantly?
posted by cmoj to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know a whole lot about zentai in action, having only seen images of it, but I'd assume that overheating is a bit of a problem. You're probably best off getting one without a hood so you're still reasonably capable of breathing and cooling. However, if you're intent on doing it with a hood, you should definitely do practice runs beforehand.
posted by LSK at 11:01 AM on May 26, 2010

INAD but I am a pretty avid runner. You will very likely overheat, which in a worst case scenario could cause heat stroke (unlikely)

The more likely outcome is that you will rapidly exhaust yourself and possibly pass out and or vomit.

5k isn't very far but looking around Google the obstacles look pretty strenuous, which will add a lot of time you'll be in a high aerobic state. You'll need to sweat and have that sweat evaporate off your skin to cool you down. Being covered head to toe will prevent that.
posted by French Fry at 11:03 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

A local race had a man running in an Zentai suit. He interviewed with the local paper and commented on how it worked out.
posted by wg at 11:08 AM on May 26, 2010

For question 1: The extra heat retention is unlikely to be dangerous for just a 5k run. People run in sauna suits all the time to try and sweat out a bit extra (caveat: occasionally people like Martin Lawrence fuck themselves up doing that, but it takes more than 2.5 miles and a thin layer of Lycra.)

However, it's going to suck. Probably monumentally. Only you know if 20 minutes of misery will be worth it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:08 AM on May 26, 2010

I saw a bunch of people do it for the Seattle St Patty's Day Run. As far as I observed (at the 25% mark and again at the finish line), they were having no issues.
posted by nomisxid at 11:10 AM on May 26, 2010

Um, heat and humidity wise, Seattle WA in March is probably very different from Austin TX in June.
posted by I am the Walrus at 11:15 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, Bridgeport, TX... North of Fort Worth. Same sentiment, though.
posted by cmoj at 11:19 AM on May 26, 2010

I would not want to vomit in a full body suit that covered my mouth.

Looking at pictures on the RootSuit website, it doesn't look at skin tight as I thought. You may be okay in it. More so if you don't wear the hood. But definitely practice in it first. Even just for a normal, non-obstacle run.
posted by bDiddy at 11:27 AM on May 26, 2010

I have seen people run in green/blue suits but like all the examples above these were cold weather occasions, when staying warm rather than cool was an important consideration.
posted by French Fry at 11:33 AM on May 26, 2010

Would you be willing to cut holes in the suit? I'm thinking it would help to cut holes around the armpits, at the very least..and maybe the crooks of the elbows and knees. You could paint your skin to patch up the holes, or maybe replace those spots with a moisture wicking fabric. I think it would help a lot if you could cut a hole out for your face or take the entire head cover off, but that would probably ruin the point of the suit.
posted by millions of peaches at 11:35 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Will you need to drink water?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:46 AM on May 26, 2010

I don't think it'd be a good idea to self-tailor these things. It seems like cutting a hole in it might destroy it like a run in a stocking. I'm sure someone else knows better, though.

Yeah, I'll be drinking water, but the hood comes off anyway.
posted by cmoj at 11:57 AM on May 26, 2010

Seconding the idea of cutting holes- giving yourself some gill-like cuts in the suit along the back and front will help you breath.
posted by yeloson at 12:02 PM on May 26, 2010

Gills sound better to me than holes as it's a lot easier to finish in a straight line than in a circle. Plus they wouldn't look as silly as the holes I suggested :)

I think you should be able to finish the edge of the holes with a sewing machine to keep them from running. Nailpolish or glue from a hot glue gun might work to close the edges too. I googled around for "patching lycra shorts" and found a lot of people in bike forums who managed to patch holes in their shorts and continue riding in them, so the fabric is probably more durable than you think. As long as the holes aren't in places that are likely to catch on obstacles, you shouldn't have to worry about the suit tearing.

Oh, and for your bonus question: I'd vote against a metallic suit because I've noticed the shininess is often made out of a less breathable paint.
posted by millions of peaches at 12:28 PM on May 26, 2010

Well, Bridgeport, TX... North of Fort Worth. Same sentiment, though.
Sorry, dude, don't know where I got Austin from.

Anyway, what type of suit are you looking at? I found stories of people running full marathons in lycra suits to dress as super heroes and whatnot. If they can do 26.2, then you can probably do 3.2 with obstacles, depending on your physical ability.

However, there are specialty suits for running, and these were used during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. These are typically called speedsuits. The common one for Americans was the Nike Swift.. Is that what you are looking for?
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:09 PM on May 26, 2010

I saw someone run three miles in the middle of summer in North Carolina in an inflated chicken suit, and he made it through okay. Bring a camelback and a set of shorts in case water makes the suit look too scandalous, but I think that you'll be fine. You could shower with the suit beforehand to see what exactly you're getting yourself into if you happen to get soaked during the race.

I've run in stuff like underarmor, which is mostly nylon with a few other materials thrown in. The moisture wicking/ air circulation of the nylon (+polyester +elastane) seemed like an improvement over cotton, and lycra is supposed to be even more breathable, so take that for what it's worth.
posted by _cave at 1:59 PM on May 26, 2010

I have some zentai style suits. The coated (usually metallic) ones are not going to be breathable. Stick to spandex (lycra is a brand name spandex). They come in various weights though you might not be able to get information on how thick they are. Pretty much everything you've assumed is correct: if it's light colored and thin, it will likely become transparent with sweat.

Unless you get one custom fitted, it won't be super tight. You'll have problems with visibility and drinking. Most suits have two back zippers that converge behind the neck so you can pull up the head zipper and pull the head covering forward for drinking and the like without removing the full suit. Getting your hair caught in the head zipper is a common problem, so be prepared for that. You can get gimp-style hoods with open eyes and mouth, or open face hoods, sometime separate from the catsuit itself.

River's Edge Dancewear has a nice selection of cheap full body catsuits available. has custom made goods, some just costumes, some full on fetish.

Cutting holes in spandex is actually A-OK. It won't run or unravel. The edges of the cut will curl on themselves though and not look very nice. If this is a one time thing just cutting will be ok.

Have fun! Glad my kink was of use to someone.
posted by chairface at 2:46 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I actually ran about a mile in a zentai suit, in the afternoon, in Florida, in the late summer one time. It was one of those days where everyone was outside enjoying the weather (which was balls-hot), and a friend of mine owns two zentai suits primarily for the purpose of fucking with people (I think). We decided to just run around his apartment complex a bunch and have fun with people ogling at the spectacle.

I would compare it to the difference between running in the middle of the day and in the early evening of the same day. It was certainly more strenuous and hotter, but not unbearable. I was doing just fine after a mile (granted, I'm in pretty decent shape).

So yeah, you'll totally survive a 5k in a full hood zentai suit. I doubt it will be very pleasant, though. Spandex does have some moisture wicking properties, but you will still be drenched in sweat. As far as breathing goes, it won't be any worse than running with a bandana over your mouth and nose. Again, not pleasant, but you'll very likely be fine if you're in good-to-very-good cardiovascular shape. Also, if you get a thinner model, you can actually just drink straight through the hood. Either way, I would say your best bet would be to get one and go for a trial run with it on full hood and everything. Try drinking water through it. You'll know your body better than a bunch of mostly-strangers on the internet. If you can run a normal 5k in it, you won't die when you add in some obstacles.

but yeah, it wont be pleasant.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 4:57 PM on May 26, 2010

Sorry, dude, don't know where I got Austin from.

I can see how Austin might be the stereotypical scene for zentai obstacle course running.

Lots of help in this thread, for the scores of future zentai race runners that will surely use it as reference, but chairface has the experience and therefore the obvious best answer. I've ordered a dark gray one (I've been interested anyway) and I'll see how it feels.
posted by cmoj at 8:35 PM on May 26, 2010

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