Some may say that shoes are the most important thing to their racing success. You’ve seen the stories of runners who have stocked up on 10 pair of their favorite shoe so that they will always have a pair even when the line is discontinued. Others will say that their speedwork or intervals or long runs are the most important aspect to their running success. While all of these items are good, they are way off base.
The key to successful running is the fashion. When was the last time that you saw a runner wearing cut-offs and an old college t-shirt grace the cover of RW? At the last marathon as people were crossing the finish, did you ever hear the announcer say “Hey look, way to go runner in your mismatched short/shirt combination with what is shaping up to be a bad hair day! Way to take on the race!”? Didn’t think so. Instead you hear, “Look at runner 3459 in her pink shorts …way to burn up the course!”
Where do you fall in the fashion category? Are you in the mismatched short, top combination with a Hard Rock Café hat on looking like you just rolled out of bed and got caught in the tide of runners? Or are you a smartly dressed runner in bright technical top, compression shorts with the appropriate logo combination? What message are you sending out to yourself and your competitors with your fashion statement?
The smart dressed runner gives off the air of “having it all put together.” They have obviously given their race day outfit some thought and effort and money to intimidate the competition. For example, Kara Goucher would still have finished with a superior time at the Boston Marathon in a pair of sweats, but would she have looked as fast as she did in her compression top and shorts? She went one step above and beyond intimidation, though. She started her own fashion trend with the NFL style gloves she is wearing. Within six months, she’ll have her own line and I will be able to shave off a good minute off my 10K time with a pair.
The flip side of this is to scare the other runners around you. Obviously you are not out to take the top prize, but rather to get the perfect photo opp. I had a neighbor who wasn’t a runner but could fit in this category. Every year she would dress up as a homeless person, get on the school bus and proceed to bother and embarrass her children. The first year she dressed up, my father came in and told us to stay inside because there was a crazed person out front. This is precisely the desired effect that the “outrageous runner” is looking for. They achieve their running results because the competition moves out of the way. Think Cindy Lauper with a pair of Asics.
My own testament to this is that running fashion has definitely improved since that first 5K race. As a result, my times now are much faster than they were back in the mistmatched short, shirt, Hard Rock Café hat period. I noticed the other day as I set out that I was wearing my Pearl Izumi shorts with coordinating socks, Mizuno top and shoes. Let’s just say I had a fabulous run and no one moved out of my way in horror.