I am racing on Sunday and, as I always do, started mentally ‘preparing’ my kit on about Monday. In doing so, my mind counjoured up an image of my almost brand new JL All-In-One (AIO) which I bought in the spring when we changed our club strip. I won’t lie, I was rather excited at the prospect of wearing it again. I worry at this point that I may have said too much and you may already be judging me, but I shall blog-on regardless.
Now, one of the reasons that I really like my JL AIO is because it is really comfortable for racing and also has extra length in the legs. I only wear this AIO for racing, hence the strange excitement. But it got me thinking about AIOs in general and I have to admit to myself, they really are my preferred training attire. At the club, I tend to wear them less, but at home or for any erg test I will wear an old AIO because they are quite honestly the most comfortable training kit. You don’t find your back getting cold half way through an erg for starters! But, practicalities aside, I actually enjoy the opportunity to wear one and I think many other people do too!
After much thought, I think I finally hit upon the reason why I like wearing an AIO – it makes me feel like an athlete. Now, I know that sounds rather strange that a bit of clothing makes me feel athletic when my training diary already shows that to be true. But, we all know the feeling of confidence you get when you turn up at the start of the race in matching crew kit. I remember the first time I got an AIO, that public ‘groan’ and embarrassment of it, but secretly inside there was a little smile that you had an excuse to wear something which all of the top squads got to wear (however ludicrous and, to be honest, unflattering!). Kit matters and for a rower, an AIO is an integral part to that. By wearing an old AIO when I train, it reminds me that I am not just someone ‘keeping fit’, I am a competitor. The range of old AIOs a rower owns also reminds you of your history with the sport. Even today, my most frequently worn AIO is my Godfrey Collingwood College strip.
You would never see me prancing around the street wearing leggings under a dress or skirt (sorry for any readers that do, but leggings are for in the boat). You would never see me wearing any form of skin-tight outfit at all in fact. But, when it comes to rowing, I will openly say I like, almost love, my AIO and would not be without it. So this Sunday, my AIO will be worn with pride, finished off with my Crew Room visor (navy with white) and sunnies, just to make myself look more intimidating than I actually am!