I confess to taking no real pride in my appearance when heading out for a run. To be clear, it’s not like I’m soiled, semi-naked and sporting an unkempt beard spotted with 3-day-old Rice Krispies or anything. Well, just that once. What I mean is that I give little or no thought to co-ordinating my running kit, not aided by the fact that I’m colour blind. I can see colour – I don’t view the world in monochrome like a dog or, erm, a Terminator. Although that would be pretty sweet…TARGET ACQUIRED! ALTERNATE POWER! HUMAN CASUALTIES 0.0!
Anyway, purely by chance last week I went out for a 4-mile dash dressed entirely in blue. Like a Smurf. Or one of Blue Man Group. Who are in fact, as Homer Simpson would say, ‘a total rip-off of The Smurfs’. Actually, now I look at them, I wasn’t at all like one of Blue Man Group, as their heads and hands are blue, but there clothing is black. My hands and face weren’t blue, I as I wasn’t being asphyxiated or suffering from hypothermia. In fact, I was more like one of Pink Man Group. Which sounds like it could be some sort of sunburn recovery programme. Or Sweaty Man Group – but I’m not sure I really want to know what goes on at one of their meetings…
As fate would have it, I ended up in coordinating kit once more this past weekend, dressed entirely in black. Like a referee. Or a malicious entity. Or the Milk Tray man! Those were more innocent times, weren’t they? When a slender chap could shimmy down the side of a ladies apartment complex (not a euphemism) and slip through an open window to leave a box of chocolatey delights on her bedside table, setting her heart aflutter. As oppose to having her feeling violated and reaching for the chemical mace – or indeed the medieval flanged mace if our man really had picked the wrong apartment. But, there I was, headed out for a casual 10k dressed like a shadow. And this got me thinking: does colour matter?
I understand that lots of people – some would call them ‘normal people’ – do take pride in their appearance be they on a night out, at work, out running or simply off to spend the evening stood in a bus shelter outside of a takeaway. They coordinate their brands. They match their colours. They don’t try and get ‘at least two runs out of every long-sleeved top’ despite the second run being undertaken whilst sporting an odour that could bring down light aircraft. But putting these trivialities to one side, I am interested in why people opt for certain colours when out running. Is it practical or is it style, or perhaps (most likely) a combination of both? Well, here’s what I reckon are the meanings behind each colour:
YELLOW – ‘Please don’t run me over with your tractor or similar’ would be the most obvious statement a runner appears to be making when adorning themselves in yellow. Nice and bright, there’s no missing this runner. If the yellow runner is indeed struck be a vehicular chassis, it’s likely through malice or utter misfortune I’d say. Plus, yellow ‘speeds metabolism’ according to the Internet. And it’s rarely wrong. So those looking to lose weight can simply eat their running kit when the miles are in the bag.
ORANGE – For those who can’t quite bring themselves to don the yellow for fear of faintly resembling Big Bird from Sesame Street, there’s orange. It’s ‘the colour of adventure’. Given that most lifejackets are orange, I’d argue it’s perhaps ‘the colour of misadventure’. But still, you’ll be seen. By that air-sea rescue helicopter following a nautical disaster, and by passers-by when out for a trot. Orange can also give you an appetite, apparently. I think whoever wrote that might mean ‘an orange’ as oppose to ‘orange’. I could be wrong though. And if I am, there’s likely to be a Greggs doing a roaring trade near the end of every Orange Order marching route…
BLUE – Coldness, loyalty, and tranquillity – it’s a rich tapestry of meanings that probably don’t actually mean anything. Plus then there’s the sky. That’s blue. Occasionally *shakes fist at sky* And the ocean. In fact, what better way to subtly show your appreciation for the works of Billy Ocean than snapping on an-all blue kit and heading out for a few miles with ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’ pumping through the earbuds? What’s this – ‘Studies have shown that weightlifters can lift greater amounts in blue gyms’. Blue gyms: not to be confused with Blue Jim, the turquoise-skinned freak-show act known also as The Cobalt Kid.
RED – Danger, danger! High Voltage! It’s an emotionally-intense colour which will surely make you run faster. Or angrier. But then it does attract attention, and no one wants passers-by pausing to gawp and blocking your route. It’s also the colour of love, and there’s no time for any of that nonsense when you’ve got a furious 5k to thrash out. ‘Red can make the wearer look heavier’ – pfft, not after I’ve eaten all my yellow running tops it won’t.
WHITE – Innocence and sterility, so my ‘research’ says. I would add, that there’s an inherent danger to a white running top when you’re as sweaty a runner as I am. At a certain ‘saturation point’ the shirt begins to become somewhat transparent and nipples become visible. No one wants that. Or indeed, wants to see that: nipples revealed in the right (well, wrong) conditions like a hidden clue in a Scooby Doo mystery or a particularly underwhelming magic eye puzzle.
PURPLE – Royalty, luxury, sophistication. Donning the purple running kit is like saying ‘I’m better than aaaaaaaall you people’. Like driving a hybrid or doing your regular grocery shopping in Marks and Spencer. NOT JUST THE LUXERY WEEKEND AND ADD ON BITS. ALL OF IT.
GREEN – My favourite colour. I’m at one with nature. Calm, refreshed, easy on the eye and fertile. That’s what I’m all about whilst running. Well, I would be. If I had a green running kit.
BROWN – Runner’s ruin, the tempter of fate – the colour to avoid. Anyone who has been running for a fair while must surely have experience of the odd ‘rumbling from below’, like a volcano venting gas before the inevitable eruption. The key is to be in the safe zone before the magma becomes lava. The brown kit can displease the Gods, interpreted as a sign of defiance. It’s like wearing white to a funeral. Or a bullseye to the shooting range.
BLACK – The colour of submission. And evil. And authority . Like a demon-priest. ‘Run like a demon priest’ as the saying goes. Black is synonymous with style, too. ‘Run like a dapper demon-priest’. Plus, isn’t black meant to look thinning? ‘Run like a slender, dapper demon-priest?’ Now it just sounds stupid…
Well there you are. A world of hidden meanings. And here’s me just climbing into the mismatched shorts and top all this time, not stopping to think as to whether I’m generating a conflicting aura of submissive fury. I think I might have overthought this, you know…