Tell Me Tuesday: Organizing Your Workout Drawer

Before: what my drawer o' spandex usually looks like.

 I do not pretend to be a neat person, at least when it comes to my clothing. Keeping my drawers neat is about 287th on my to-do list, which means it never gets done. Except maybe twice a year, usually when everything else feels out-of-control, and I crave some semblance of order. Then I'll  fold.

Because I fold so infrequently, I try to edit my clothes as I go along. I rarely heed the if-you-haven't-worn-it-in-a-year-toss-it rule with my "regular" clothes (read: tees and jeans). Fortunately, I don't have to apply that rule to my workout garb since I do wear it all at least once a year. But that doesn't mean some of it shouldn't go.

So I dumped out the drawer on my bed and started folding. A few fave things definitely couldn't go.

I got this at the 2007 Nike Women's Marathon. Despite red being my least favorite color, I {{will always heart}} this shirt. I wear it to the gym on days I need to convince myself I am badass.
Two prereqs for tanks for me: must be long enough to cover my belly and must have a pocket in the back. This does both--and has been with me for four years.
And these shorts are also my besties. Bought these when I committed to 2007 marathon. (Note red trim: maybe I do subconsciously like red more than I pretend to.) And I love that these have a back pocket and are ultra lightweight.

But a few things could bite the dust.

This bra actually did well in Runner's World testing last year--it's great for people with larger or smaller than normal rib cages--but mine is a fairly standard size. So putting this on isn't worth the sweat it takes.
These too-small socks have been flipping my toe the bird for 3 years. I kid you not.

I also tossed one pair of capris and one skirt; let's just say the linings had seen much, much better days and leave it at that. No visual necessary.

So how did I organize? I won't go all Real Simple on you, but I did do a few things:
1. I put tops that I only wear to yoga or Pilates with the pants I wear only to those things. They're now in my closet. (Nutty, right?)
2. I took a cue from my very neat husband, and rolled all my bike shorts and capris like this:

Capris and bike shorts, all (relatively) compact. Don't look too close, or you'll spot dog hairs.

3. I decided that I couldn't have all my bottoms in one drawer, even though I like everything in one drawer so when I go to lay out my clothes the night before a workout, my effort is minimal. So I put my bike shorts in their own drawer, a very stubborn one that requires both a delicate touch and patience to open. We'll see how long that lasts.
4. The only true wild card? This lovely constellation of bra pads. I saved them, but they're stacked up in my undies drawer right now. I'm still on the fence if they're worth the effort.

I love that these pads hide the headlights, but I hate how they fall out in the wash. And how they require time and--again--a delicate touch to replace.

So the title of this post was a little misleading. I didn't really tell how what to do with your clothes; I only tossed a few holey socks, a too-much-work bra, and some bottoms that no amount of detergent could save. (I'd advise you to do the same.) But I bet you innovative mother runners have some much better advice: How do you organize your running clothes?

Because at the end of all my work, my drawer looked like this.Fine, but not super crazy neat--and it'll be a disaster again by Friday. Promise.

56 responses to “Tell Me Tuesday: Organizing Your Workout Drawer

  1. I love your honesty! I just had a hormone-fueled breakdown over my workout dresser drawer, which looks like your before picture except it was so jumbled from me searching for things, that I couldn’t shut it without refolding everything, and so it’s just been sitting open for…weeks now? Anyway, I was just glad to see I’m not the only person struggling with this problem!

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  3. I keep all of my workout gear in a drawer as well! It does become such a mess. I even keep my socks, handkerchiefs, and sports bras in the same drawer and my shirts and shorts – right now. BUT I would love to someday be more organized and have everything separated! Who knows when that will happen – probably when my now 2.5 yr old graduates from college I’ll have the time to really get that all sorted out! ;o)

  4. So many great comments! I love reading these!
    I usually wash my running clothes once a week-and then I fold them and put tops, bottoms, and bras in a plastic storage tub that slides under our bed. Seasonal items stay on top since they get taken out and put back in.
    Socks (for some reason that I am questioning now after reading this) go in my sock/underwear drawer, which is divided by two plastic containers-one for socks and one for undies. In the front hall closet I have a shallow and pretty rigid cloth bag that contains reflective gear, yaktrax, blinking light for the dog’s collar when we run at night, hats, etc.

    As far as the pads go, when they fall out it seems like I lose one, like socks. I am guessing there is a place where pads and socks go together. I hope they are all happy, because my little girls need all the enhancement they can get!

  5. I hang up my shirts – but the rest are in drawers like you.
    With the older shirts — I save them and make a quilt out of them! So far we have a whole quilt dedicated to bike rides we have done. We are still saving shirts to make a quilt from our running events.

  6. I have two plastic bins (not drawers but bins) on two shelves next to my bed. I can reach them from the bed actually. Strategic placement for cold mornings. I have socks and sports bras in the top one and everything else in the bottom in one big pile. If what I want isn’t there it is in the wash.

  7. I’ve orgazined my running things in my drawer a few times. But where is my gear most of the time? Hanging from shower rods, door knobs, shelves, etc drying from the wash. And then it doesn’t get put away. I just wear it again, wash it again, and the cycle repeats. When I was off running for a few weeks I actually put everything away where it goes. It made me so sad to not see everything hanging.

  8. I don’t. I usually fish them out of the dryer, (or if I’m lucky, the laundry room counter), right before my run.

  9. I am with @Lenora – I’ll come over and organize! I have three drawers: one for socks, bras, extra hats and gloves; one for shirts organized by long sleeve, short sleeve and short sleeve with words on it; one for bottoms organized by length. Skirts, shorts and tanks are currently in my “summer clothes” bin. Jackets, hoodies, currently worn hats, headhones, headbands, etc., are on those reusable hooks on the wall in closet. Other gear such as glide, headlamps, flashlights, road id, phubby, etc are in a recently purchased plastic bin with dividers (I heart the Container Store) on top of the dresser. Husband has special plastic drawers/bins also organized by shorts, pants, hats/gloves/socks, swimming, biking, etc. So now even my son has to have his sports stuff done that way – football in one drawer, baseball in one, running in another. Happy spring cleaning!

  10. My method to having a neat running drawer is to not keep ANY of my running stuff in a drawer! I have a clothes rack in the garage for my running clothes. (Because my closet in my room is too full of regular clothes.) I’m about to do some spring cleaning b/c it’s all getting to be too much and think I may start getting rid of my race shirts. I’ve been saving them all (almost 2 years of racing) in case I ever wanted one of those quilts made with ’em, but now i’m starting to think it’s time to let go…

  11. OCD/ADD/ETC (everything else) leaves me wanting to come to most of your homes and organize for fun, but instead I’ll go for a run asap 😉 HA!

  12. I have all of my tanks and shirts hanging up, arranged by color, and sleeve length. Not kidding. Well, as long as I’ve stayed on top of moving them from the ‘waiting to be hung’ pile that ‘sometimes’ accumulates on the shelf in my closet. Then, the bottoms get folded in half and then rolled so that the waistband is on the outside so I can tell which they are, and all of them are in a large-ish basket on a shelf in my closet. Some of them (the ones I never wear) are still rolled neatly like that. The top of the basket looks like a small lycra bomb exploded because I. can’t. find. that. one. pair…at 5am when I’m trying to get out the door. Socks, bras and dri-fit undies (for days I don’t go commando) are in my normal underwear drawer. I wish it looked as pretty every day as it does the day I first do it!

    And, I’d totally chuck those bra pads!

  13. I finally surrendered and bought an Ikea dresser for my workout stuff…organized by season. Short-sleeved stuff and shorts/skirts in one drawer, long pants in another, and winter/longsleeved/jackets in another. I did 14 races last season so the gear that came with races is starting to get out of control, and I also have some “fat clothes” i.e. running pants that don’t stay up any more, and those need to get tossed/donated. My favorite bra (Lululemon ta-ta-tamer) has those pads and they drive me crazy.

  14. With regard to the bra pads, I have some fairly big girls (D-cup) so I use them in my regular bras also to hide the high-beams.

  15. My collection outgrew the drawer too– funny how a new tee or pants can bring back your mojo– apparently I have needed that help a little too often. I have stacks on shelves in my closet-top shelf has running bras and socks in a basket, tanks in a shallow basket, short sleeve tops(shallow basket) and then long sleeve tops (shallow basket). Bottom shelf has bike shorts, capris, long pants and then running tights in stacks. I hang my running jackets, half zips and windbreakers. I also have a bankers box of gear for running outside below 25 degrees, high in the closet but since Ted (my treadmill) entered my life, if it’s that cold, I go visit Ted in the basement (which is freakishly HOT.)

  16. OOooOOOOoh, I only have two pairs of running shorts and a handful of shirts. I’ve purposely kept a minimalist approach b/c I’ve only been running for almost a year and I guess I didn’t want to jinx it. Weird, but true. But now that I’ve kind of proven something to myself, I think it’s time to invest in some new duds. I think, however, that I’ll probably just ball them all up and throw them in a drawer, haha!

  17. I used to have a drawer for my running gear, but my collection quickly outgrew that space (now it contains all the good-condition-but-need-to-donate-and-haven’t-done-it-yet clothes). Now all my gear is on a shelf in our closet. Tights, capris, shorts and skirts in one stack, with tanks, tees and long sleeves in another. All my accoutrements are stashed behind those piles. Running socks are on the verge of taking over my regular sock drawer, so perhaps they’ll get moved to a drawer of their own.

  18. I really don’t organize my drawer. The one thing I do however is I rotate my running gear by season. So right now there aren’t any shorts or tanks in my drawer, but plenty of long-sleeved shirts for layering.

  19. I use a hanging sweater basket/thing too. it’s great. Tops in the first cubby. Shorts in the second. Bras in the third. Bike wear in the fourth. And cold weather gear in the fifth. No need to fold anything, and very easy to get to – even in the dark!

  20. Mine looks the same as the “before” picture as well. I too save all the random bra cups for just in case who knows when I might need them. I just always make sure I lay my clothes out the night before or who knows what sport gear combo I’d end up wearing in the morning!

  21. My drawer looks like the first picture… Summer and winter running gear intermixed with pajamas. It worked okay when I started running a year ago… But likely $700ish dollars in clothing running gear later it is pretty much chaos!

  22. this post made me LOL for real!!! I keep my running gear & jazzercise gear that I’m wearing at the moment in the closet.. I just take them from the bathroom after they finish air drying and add to the closet. I have a a few totes full of things that I will probably never ever wear again for many reasons but I can’t seem to part with them.. undies, socks & bras I part with very easily.. i like the roll up the tight & shorts thing but what if you don’t want to wear shorts and want a capri or long tight? I would never roll them back up LOL

  23. This is so funny because my drawers are super neat: all the clothes are always folded, separated by color, facing the same way, etc…

    …all my drawers except that dang running clothes drawer! And I really don’t own that many running clothes at all. So I gave up on it, meaning I decided not to keep my clothes in a drawer. I put a big Rubbermaid tote with “out of season” clothes on the floor of my closet and I stack my shorts, capris and pants on it. I don’t have too many of those, probably 6 total, so my bras and socks get put in a small basket next to those. Yeah, don’t have many of those, either! The shirts I hang up…easier to pick the one I want that way. A drawer just didn’t cut it for me…I couldn’t see the sides of the stacks of clothes so I’d end up rummaging for the item I wanted that day. I like stacks that I can see. Works for me, but I think if I end up with more running clothes, I’ll have to reevaluate my stack system 🙂

  24. Last summer I took all of my favoritework out shirts that I can’t/ don’t wear any more and made them into a picinic blanket! Great way to keep my shirts without them taking up all my space in my drawer.

  25. That last comment made me sound like a neat freak. I promise I AM NOT! My husband can attest to that! You should see my desk. Ugh. It could use some serious help. 😉 I try to be organized, but it is not my strong suit.

  26. My tops are all hanging on wire hangers in the closet. My bottoms are folded and stacked on an open shelf in my closet. My bras (I only have a few) are folded and in the bra drawer. My socks are folded with the tops folded down over to make a little bundle in the sock drawer. It is only a bit of a pain to go to so many different spots to get everything, but if I organized everything by sport or activity or type of outfit, I’d have just as many piles. The way I’ve got it works for me. Good luck!

  27. I caved & bought another small dresser – one drawer for socks, one drawer for running pants/shorts/capris, one drawer for sports bras, one drawer for running tees. It’s sad that i need an entire dresser, but things are super organized! I can always find exactly what I need. 😉

  28. I have baskets in my dresser drawers that work as dividers.

    Drawer 1 is all tops – bras in one basket, regular tanks and tees in the second and tanks with built in bras in the third. My long sleeved running shirts and jackets hang in the closet, along with a few short sleeved favorites.

    Drawer 2 is bottoms – one basket for shorts (overflowing), one for bike shorts and the third for tights.

    As far as run shirts – except for a very few favorites that are hanging, the rest are in a neat pile to be turned into a quilt *someday*. Yeah, that pile has been following me around for about 15 yrs and some parts of it are even bagged and stored. Ugh. I never wear regular tees, especially men’s cut tees. Fortunately, many of the local runs are now providing tech tees, often in womans cut, so those actually get used and worn (unless they are ugly).

  29. I just recently went through and organized my workout clothes. First I went through and tossed any clothes that I didn’t love or didn’t fit me well. Especially any ugly race t-shirts. I roll my clothes because I know that if I folded it would be a huge mess. I have 3 rows of clothes. Rolled workout pants are on the left with shorts toward the back of that row. The middle row has tanks and short sleeve workout shirts at the front, t-shirts next, then long sleeve shirts. The third row has my sports bras in the front, then more additional t-shirts.

  30. I’m kind of an organizing nerd, but the best thing I got was a hanging sweater holder. I have all my bras, tanks on top, running shirts in the second and third shelf, capris second to the bottom and pants at the bottom. My rule is if it doesn’t fit, I don’t need it. Then I keep all the opposite season stuff in a drawer I usually don’t use. That way once every six months I switch it all out and if anything looks bad, it’s gone. I know, sorry, but it’s an obsession.

  31. Organize?? What a great idea! I laughed when I saw the title of this post as my workout gear used to be organized. Then, I started running. Then, came running tights and skirts, sports bras and race tees, arm sleeves, calf sleeves and compression socks. The amount of favorites grew and my drawers shrank. Currently, my clothes get in where they fit in. And that sports bra that is too much work for you is one of my fave’s!! However, due to my lack of organization, I cannot find it anywhere and it is greatly missed! Perhaps, I need to go organize 🙂

  32. I stack my tops on end similar to the way the Beverly Hills Organizer book describes. It makes it easy to find what top I want and no mess. Before I started using the steps and ideas in that book, my drawer looked very similar to yours.

  33. Bras and socks are on one end of the drawer. Dresses and skirts at the other. Next drawer has all my shirts, sleeveless at one end and short sleeve at the other. Then bike stuff is in the drawer with my denim everyday capris. The warm time frame here is so long that the winter stuff is in one pile on a shelf in the closet. OH, my drawers are only wide enough for 2 stacks of clothes. Things start out folded, but by the time I look in there once for a specific anything, it’s a waste of time.

  34. I’m organized. When we bought our house it had an awesome bedroom closet with Closet Maid shelving. I have 4 pull out drawers in my closet and use 3 for running stuff – the bottom is winter gear (hats, balaclava, gloves, etc), next drawer up is cold gear tights in the back, capris and skirts in the front, then the top drawer holds my bras, UA under, socks (I even organize by wool in one pile, balegas in another) and shin compression sleeves. Then I hang up my shirts. Then I have a bin in my downstairs closet that holds my fuel belt, Stabilicers, and accessories I want handy. My clothes have always been organized even if nothing else in my life is. 🙂

  35. I have three bins in a closet area and a drawer of running accessories – they are all bulging and I should really go though and toss – or at least commit to having to toss one thing for every new thing that comes in.

  36. My “organizational” technique is similar to many of the previous posts but one thing I use is a clear hanging shoe bag for running beanies, gloves, sunglasses etc…

  37. I have a tops drawer and a bottoms drawer. Usually I only have the off season gear in the drawers. Everything currently in use is stuffed in a homemade end table/smelly gear pit “box” in the living room. That way I can turn the light on and see what I’m wearing before I’m out the door.

    If the top stays shut, no one can see the disarray nor smell the sweaty stench…as I don’t soak my stuff, so I wear the tops a couple of times before washing. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a new sort of creature growing in the bottom of that box!

  38. My drawer looks like your first picture! When I only had one of everything I threw it in with my bed clothes but after I added a few, I made a separate drawer. I probably should organize it but it is pretty l

  39. It’s all hanging. Bottoms-right to left- shorts to tights. Tops-left to right-bras to jackets. Now! Until this last weekend my running paraphenalia was a chaotic mess in a shoebox so I went and bought a couple little bins. Now we’ve got Fuel- Gu’s, chews, water belts, Winter Wear- arm sleeves, beenies, gloves, headbands, and Misc- pace cards, ibuprofen, chapstick. Organized!!!

    1. I never thought to hang all my running gear because my closet is already packed, but that’s a great idea for all those slippery odd shaped clothes!

  40. My stuff is on shelves and because my closet is a total disaster right now (4 different sizes of clothes — many saved because I hope that someday I’ll make it to alterations — plus umpteen million shoes, bags and who knows what else), it makes my workout gear seem sort of organized. Running socks and bras are in a basket. I have a pile of pants, a pile of long sleeved shirts, a pile of tanks, a pile of short sleeved shirts, a pile of shorts and skirts, and a pile of jackets. I guess I am just trying to make everyone feel better that “organized” – it is not. Oh, and honestly, most of my workout gear is in a continuous state of dirty laundry basket-washer-hanging to dry. It leaves the laundry room to run.

  41. Might be because I’m prior military, but I’m kinda anal about how my clothes are organized. I have a drawer for tops and one for bottoms. I roll mine, too, since they take up less space (a trick I saw in a youtube video from a flight attendant re: packing efficiently!).
    Pants / capris on one side, skirts on the other, and bike shorts in the middle. Pants are actually organized heaviest and long in the back, moving towards capris in the front!
    Shirts are pretty much the same, I have a row of long-sleeved, a row of short, and a row of sleeveless / tanks. My socks get a special little spot in some spare space in the long-sleeved row!
    The drawers are right next to each other, so I can open them at the same time and grab something that actually matches, then head out the door!

  42. I am a brand new runner and I hope I have this problem someday soon!! I have one teeny tiny drawer with only one of everything — pants, capris, tights, long sleeve shirt, tank top .. oh, and two sports bras — that I am constantly washing and shoving back in the drawer. My goal is to have piles and piles of unorganized gear to choose from!! Now that’s a goal right there! (P.S. … you ALL inspire me!!!)

  43. My socks and bras go in my undies drawer, shorts and pants in another drawer and shirts and tanks in another. That’s the extent of my “organizing” lol

  44. My issue with organizing (as I am sure is the issue for many) is that there is a very fine line between what constitutes clothes for “just running/working out” and clothes for getting through my day. As a SAHM with two little ones and a husband in the Navy (no predictable schedule…at all) I generally get dressed in some workout gear intending to grab a run then next thing you know, it is 7pm and I have been rocking my capris and industrial grade sports bra all day. My answer: non-workout clothes go in the closet, all the workout stuff goes in the dresser: one drawer for tops, one for bottoms. I generally have to dig, but at least I know where to start 🙂

  45. I have four baskets on a shelf in my bathroom. One basket holds bottoms (shorts, running skirts and capris). One basket holds tops (short sleeves and tanks). One baskets holds socks and Buffs and hats. The final basket holds sports bras and underwear.

    I also have a drawer in my closet that holds all my running “gear.” Running belt, headphones, sunglasses, NUUN water tablets, etc. I got so tired of NEVER finding what I needed when I wanted to go for a run. Now I come home from a run, throw my stuff in there and it’s ready for the next time.

    I cannot keep anything folded but at least I can keep them separated. I also change out my clothes for the season. Since I’ve lived in FL these past two years, I haven’t had to change out my clothes seasonally! smile

  46. I’ve been thinking I need a better system. I have tops and bottoms jumbled in one drawer. Bras with my other bras in a second dresser. Running socks with my other socks in a huge basket in the closet. Hats and headphones etc in a basket downstairs in the kitchen. Shoes on the porch. It’s a miracle I manage to find everything to make it out the door.

  47. No visual WAS needed for the skirt & capris you tossed, as I’m sure I have a few just like them!
    I recently organized my workout wear only because I’m not working. Tanks are (mostly) in the chest at the foot of my bed. I drawer for bottoms, one for shirts & bras. I only got rid of a few things, too. My hard-to-close drawer is still that way, and I bought more. Oh well, I tried?

  48. Neatness doesn’t count in my dressers, either. Warm-weather workout clothes go in one drawer; cold-weather duds go in another. They’re mostly “folded” in half (tucking in slippery tech fabric sleeves is too frustrating) and mostly bottoms on the left, tops on the right, sportsbras stuffed in the corner. [Well, when they make it out of the clean laundry basket.]

    Hats, visors, gloves, and extra gels go in a race duffel next to the dresser.

  49. I have all running things on one long shelf. Tanks in one pile, tights in another and so on. It all goes to hell once I look for one thing. Tech fabric is slippery…enough said.

  50. The first picture is exactly how my drawer looks. I organize it into piles every so often and it quickly gets messed up again. I do hang the majority of my tops in the closet and will use pants hangers for the skirts and bottoms.

  51. 2 bins in my closet … I attempt to separate them by tops and bottoms but that all goes to hell in a hand basket when I start digging through it all looking for the right bra, pants/skirt, and shirt for the mood that day!

  52. Oh I think tossing old running shirts and such are harder than breaking up with your first boyfriend! My husbands suggests…rather begs me to do it periodically but it is impossible!! I have a rolly two drawer cart for my long and short sleeve shirts. My tanks are in my dresser. Neither option is very well organized but at least they are falling out of my closet which was their prior state. If I can keep the shirts out of my hubby’s sight then the less I have to toss!

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