What to Wear to Run Fast

This is my all-time favorite piece of running clothing. (The Gap Fit tank tops come in a close second.)

Super awesome Brooks running jacket.
Super awesome Brooks running jacket.

I don’t know much about materials and wicking and all that. I just bought this jacket as my pre-race purchase for Chicago — my good luck buy. And, while it’s pretty warm and good for light rain, really I like it because I’m convinced it makes me look fast. And skinny. But mostly fast.

See, though this is sort of a bad picture, don’t I still look super fast and cool:

Me, taking a really bad picture in my room.
Me, taking a really bad picture in my room.

Most of my life I ran in soccer shorts and t-shirts, because that’s what you played soccer in and I didn’t want to look like some jackass runner in fancy tights prancing around thinking I was hot shit. Until three or four years ago, I’d actually spent more of my life playing soccer than ‘being a runner.’ It was also about three or four years ago that I finally started wearing running clothes to run in. Coincidence? Probably not.

What I discovered was: if you wear fancy clothes like some jackass fast runner, then you’re going to feel like a fancy fast runner. And, then, you run fast.

Winning this trail race in Pinecrest. And, no, I'm not pregnant in this picture. I just am running weird or something.
Winning this trail race in Pinecrest. And, no, I’m not pregnant in this picture. I just am running weird or something.

Basically, I started doing a couple races in a sports bra and my Oregon running shorts — which always prompt people to ask if I ran for Oregon; um, do you know who runs for Oregon?? hint: it’s not me — and that outfit made me feel like people were judging me and had certain expectations. So, I figured if I didn’t run fast I’d just look stupid. And, we all know my biggest fear is looking stupid. Since I was dressed like a fast runner, I better fucking be a fast runner.

There’s some clothes you just can’t pull off at certain speeds. That, however, works both ways.

Last year, I was catching the bus over to the start of the Across the Bay 12K and talking to this girl I knew who was getting ready for The Trials (Olympic that is). She was wearing a hella snazzy black and pink and tight and fast-looking outfit, complete with a nice little Nike running backpack to carry the racing flats that coordinated with the rest of her clothes. And, then, of course, she raced in the sports bra + tiny spandex shorts that seems to be a uniform you can’t really pull off with any body fat at all.

I, though, was worried about having to check clothes at the start and wore old, baggy tights (baggy tights!) and a zip-up sweatshirt that work had given me for free. I did not look fast. I did not feel fast. I did not run particularly fast that day.

But, at the same time, I would not have been able to pull off the cool-looking tights with the little zipper at the bottom that all the fast girls wear. I would have become too obsessed over exactly how much they should be unzipped to look just right. And, she would never have shown up in baggy tights. (Really, no one should.)

So, either I need to just wear the fast-looking tights, thus forcing me to fulfill the need to run fast to deserve them. Or, when I am fast enough, I will simply know exactly how much they need to be unzipped and it will not be a worry. When I am fast enough, I will know what to wear.

But, I don’t think that’s how that works.

Dress for the race you want?

6 thoughts on “What to Wear to Run Fast

  1. You may not think guys obsess about such things, but when I was racing a lot what I wore was crucial to feeling, and therefore running, fast. My favorite all-time outfit was a New Balance set of white shorts and white top with red and blue panels. Went quite well with my Nike Air Edge with opposing blue and red swooshes. 31:10 baby. Fast as I ever got. And looking snazzy.

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