They say women don’t run as fast as men because of our bodies. More likely, it’s because of our hair.
Don’t take this personally, guys, but most of you don’t have a lot to work with above the forehead. Even those of you with enviably full heads of hair – think beautiful Dean Karnazes, ultra-marathon man – don’t sport hair that can slow you down. Many women, on the other hand, are both burdened and blessed with hair and hair products that cut deeply into our times.
The presence of hair spray alone, I’m convinced, can take a minute off our best miles. They don’t call it Aqua Net for nothing.
Shoe manufacturers spend a lot of time and money trying to design trainers that are an ounce lighter than their competitors’. So why aren’t women runners cutting off their hair en masse, trying for the same effect? Why doesn’t the current popularity of minimalist running translate to minimal hair?
Because we know the story of Samson and Delilah, that’s why. Hair equals power, yes? Even when it’s weighing us down.
To compensate, women who want to run faster must find ways to control our hair, lest our hair control our runs. I’d love to run with my hair flying behind me, but I’d have to call in the National Guard to untangle the knots afterwards. Long or medium-length hair must be restrained somehow, which leaves the choice of braids or pony tails, both of which conjure up unwelcome memories of first grade.
When I first braided my hair for a run 10 years ago, my then-husband took to calling me Heidi, and he didn’t mean the supermodel, which might explain why he’s now a then-husband. (Or “wusband,” as Kristin Armstrong says of Lance.) But to hell with the mockery, I like braids, even though some people say no one over the age of 13 should wear them. Braids make me feel a bit rebellious and unconventional, who-cares-what-the-devil-may-think. Sort of like the act of running itself. And race-day hair can be just plain fun, as Pepper reminded us earlier this year.
Can a hairstyle make us faster, more aerodynamic, like a streamlined sports car? It’s unlikely, unless we’re willing to go for a buzz cut.
Our choice of hairstyle, however, can help us get out the door, and sometimes getting out the door is half the battle. For me, the act of braiding my hair has become like the sound of a can opener for a cat: a sign that something good’s about to happen. Heidi or not, here I come, and I don’t care at all if anyone is laughing.
Salties: Would you cut your hair short to get faster? What running hair style is most comfortable for you?