“Whoa, look at that guy, he must be fast.”
I’ve heard that exact comment more times than I can count at the start of races. And often it’s not due to the runner’s physique but due to their attire. Certain running clothes seem to have a ‘speed limit’ on them; a minimum limit, that is. Those skin tight Under Armor shirts, brightly colored racing flats, and super short shorts seem to be reserved for the faster runners among us.
And sometimes, despite all the sweat-wicking and temperature-maintaining technology behind these clothes, the runner wearing them often plods along with the pack or even far behind.
I’ve made the comment myself; “That guy shouldn’t be wearing those clothes unless he’s running sub-6 minute miles.” But, of course, I don’t mean it seriously. Runners at any level should wear whatever they feel best in, be it skin tight Under Armor or a cotton T-shirt and basketball shorts.
And though there may be little physical help for a 10-minute miler to wear racing flats, there may be a different benefit to it: Feeling fast. Which should never be underrated.
Some days I just wake up, and there’s nothing I can do to make myself run faster, because I’m just not feeling it. I may have trained for months for a race, but if the morning of the race I feel sluggish, there’s little doubt that the race will not be my best. So if wearing ‘fast clothes’ helps you feel fast, go right ahead; maybe it will make you run faster too.
As an aside, have you ever noticed that racing flats are always in very bright, neon colors? I’m sure there’s some reasonable explanation for it, but I’ll give my own instead: even the elite need to feel fast.
It’s a psychological game even professionals play. “Look how bright his shoes are, I have no chance against him,” the wearers of these shoes want their opponents to think. I bet the best runners’ shoes are glow-in-the-dark.
But feeling fast is not reserved for the elite. Faster runners may make snide comments to each other if you slog past the finish line last in your fast-looking clothes, but that’s their problem, not yours. They’re probably just jealous you can afford them.