Style: Brighter = Faster

I raced out of the subway station and dashed across four lanes of traffic on 14th street, desperate to make it to JackRabbit before they closed. We wrapped early–8:00–on a Thursday and I had called at lunch to make sure they had the beautiful Brooks Racer STs I’ve wanted for months (but hadn’t had the money to buy). I knew they were discontinuing the color and were sold out online, but I’d made sure to have them hold a pair for me.

I bounced on tiptoes, grinning wide as the saleswoman set the box on the counter. “You sure are excited!” she remarked. I beamed back at her as I opened the lid and–

These weren’t the shoes I was looking for.

Move Along.
image via reoiv.com

They were the right brand and they were even the right model. They were the right size. The only real difference was that these shoes were white with red. The shoes I wanted were orange with blue. I patiently explained my predicament to the woman, who suggested I talk to someone in shoe sales.  The guy in the back acted like he was way too busy for a frivolity like color preference and sent me packing back to the girl at the register so she could call around to other stores.

Liz Lemon
Yes, I've worked on 30 Rock. Yes, I'm bragging about it. Screenshot via NBC

She smiled, but I was a shopgirl once, I knew what she was thinking.  I’ve had that same look on my face about a million times.  Since I’m kind of a Liz Lemon when it comes to these things I opened my big mouth about it.  “I’m sorry to make you go to all this trouble,” I said.  “I know you probably think I’m crazy to want the orange ones and refuse the white ones.”

She looked at the shoes in their box. “I kind of like these better.  The orange ones are so…”

“Loud?” I finished for her.  She laughed nervously and nodded.  “You’re right, but that’s why they’re better.”

She knitted her brows together with some confusion.  “Why is that better?”

I blinked and stared at her for a moment, totally astonished that she couldn’t  see the difference like I could.  Her blank, mystified stare and pursed lips led me to one single conclusion: this salesperson at the running store was not a runner.  Or at least not a competitive personality.  How was it not totally obvious to her when she works at the flagship location of New York City’s major local running retailer?  How could you spend day in and day out catering to athletes from all over the world and not immediately be able to see the difference between these two shoes?

 

Brooks Racer ST 5 White
Meh.
Brooks Racer ST 5 Blaze
YEAH!

DUH!  The orange ones are faster!

Okay, maybe not in actuality, but in my brain that’s how it works, and if you’ve ever run for more than ten minutes you know that the hard part of running all takes place in your brain.  So it follows, then, that if my brain thinks I’m faster in safety orange shoes I will be faster in safety orange shoes. It’s a simple, logical formula to reach an irrefutable conclusion: some colors are just faster.

Safety orange happens to be my favorite color for this very reason. Next up is lime green, followed by bright yellow, then electric turquoise.  For me, the brighter the color the faster it is.

[You may wonder why hot pink doesn’t make an appearance in my day-glo running wardrobe.  It’s a slightly controversial (and admittedly slightly trivial) position, but I hate wearing pink. While it may be an appealing color to some runners I’ve always felt confined by products offered for women only in black, pink or baby blue, when men are offered the gamut of other options.  Do sports companies think we’re all the same, or that we’ll only buy sports products that are ultra feminized?  I guess I just don’t like being told how I should be feminine, or see why there should be a color distinction at all between the men’s and women’s versions of a product.  Pink is fine, but I feel faster–and therefore prettier–in other colors.]

Kara Goucher in Yellow
Kara looks speedy in bright yellow! Zoom! img via getty/iaaf.org

Anyway, there’s a happy ending to the shoe story.  I was complaining to my sister about the time I wasted on a fruitless shopping trip when said she had the exact pair of shoes in the exact size I needed, that she had only worn them a couple times and that I could just have them.

And THAT, dear reader, is why you should share hobbies with your siblings.  And shoe sizes, if possible.

 

Do you think bright colors are faster? Do you share a shoe size with your sister? Do you think I’m crazy for hating pink?

Cinnamon made Salty Running, takes lots of pictures and drinks lots of coffee. By day she's a camera assistant for films and tv in New York, and by night she's on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is a mix of satirical humor, finding wholeness as an average runner, cheering for runners at all paces and more.

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6 comments

  1. I usually go with turquoise to stand out. Just ended up that color I guess. Not sure if it’s faster or not. Sometimes I wear fluorescent yellow. But never with the turquoise.

    Wait, I’m a guy, am I supposed to be commenting on this?

  2. I really like the idea of racing in pink, but I think it’s because it’s an in-your-face color to a certain extent and also because I see it as taking pink and making that girly color into something tough. I think it’s rad when women where pink to do bad-ass stuff like run fast. I totally get what you’re saying about this marketing need to feminize running, but I like to use pink on my own terms which is making pink stink with sweat or trail dirt. There’s a difference between a pink singlet or racing flats and a tu-tu, at least to me.

    That being said, I totally feel you about the white ST Racers! The orange ones are so much better and I am so glad to give them a good home on your feet!

  3. I tend to go toward pink things if it’s mixed with a funky design and other colors. I do like a good ol pair of white/gray tennies to match with many outfits outside of running but everything these days is so bright and colorful.

  4. I wish I shared a shoe size with my sister! Certain colors are DEFINITELY faster than others! Red and Hot pink are my faves 🙂 And I cannot run fast in blue 😉