I have never been very concerned about how I look or what I wear when I run.

In fact, when my sister came to Utah to run my first marathon with me three years ago, she was horrified to find out that I had no "real" running gear.

That's because — those of you who've made the transition from couch potato to weekend warrior know — it's hard to commit to being an athlete. I still play softball and indoor soccer in my tennis shoes because I don't feel I'm good enough — or committed enough — to spend the money on cleats.

So it was with running.

Maybe that's because once I make the financial investment to buy workout clothes — and with the price of materials like Under Armour and Dry Fit, that's significant money — I feel an added pang of guilt when I rationalize my way out of exercise.

And even after buying "real" running clothes, I didn't worry about matching or whether or not I looked good in my new duds. In fact, most of the time, I try to wear the same gear for a couple days in a row. It not only reduces the amount of laundry required, it cuts down on the number of "investments" I must purchase to cover six days of running each week.

And, just as in my everyday wardrobe, comfort rules my every decision. Aesthetically pleasing outfits are optional and often accidental.

So when my younger, much more fashion-savvy sister asked me to try on running skirts a few weeks ago, I was reluctant. I don't wear skirts — unless required by the event — so why would I want to RUN in a skirt.

Sister pressure, however, can be relentless, and I caved.

The first skirt I tried on looked awful. It was too short and too ruffled; obviously, it was made for a much younger, more bouncy woman.

I told her I'd try on one more — a black skort made by Adidas out of Climacool material. It was on sale, and black, my mother tells me, is slimming.

It was slightly longer than most of my running shorts and the mesh shorts under the skirt were extremely comfortable. But how would they wear on a run?

I put them on and went for an 8-mile run.

The review? Awesome. I would never have guessed.

Interestingly, this month's Runner's World features a story called "The Rise of Skirt Culture." The author always loved skirts, so she is obviously intrigued by the femininity of running skirts. I have always hated skirts, although I must admit skorts are slightly more palatable. And those who run in spandex, well, I've never understood spandex. Still don't.

But let me say that running skirts, at least the one I settled on, is nothing like what I expected. It's more comfortable than most of my shorts. And if it's more flattering, well, that's just one of those unintended fringe benefits.

Many women say they love running skirts because they feel more feminine, even when competing. For me, it's all about comfort. Mine was so comfortable I ended up wearing it all day.

I guess the best aspect of the proliferation of skirts, and there are many incarnations of this idea on the market, is that it gives us would-be athletes even more options. And more options mean fewer excuses for putting off that trip to the gym.

E-mail: [email protected]