The Illusion of Speed

I got some new shoes the other day and immediately felt faster. I wasn’t actually faster, but I felt like I was. I could think of a couple of reasons that made me feel that way.

First, I have been running in black colored shoes. I used to avoid black shoes because they had the opposite effect on me – they made me feel slow for some reason. Black just seems clunky in my head. But black goes best with my winter running gear, and I guess I just carried black shoes over into the summer. My new shoes are a light grey and when I started the run I felt like an Olympian, running with speed and grace.

The second reason is a little more obvious, they were new, felt springy, and I was bouncing along with seemingly less effort. Feeling faster from a new pair of shoes should make it easier, I suppose.

After that initial fast-feeling run, I was surprised to see that I really wasn’t any faster than most of the recent runs I had been doing.

The faster Hoka Bondi 8 on the left and my old and slow Hoka Bondi 7 on the right. Basically the same shoe.

There are other times when I felt like a piece of gear made me “feel” faster. Going from a road bike to an aero bike surely made me feel faster, and when I stay in aero I should definitely be faster. I noticed once that I was riding on the trail with my friend John, sitting upright and having a chat and traveling at the same speed, but when I went down into aero without changing my cadence, I slowly started to edge ahead.

Sticking with the bike, I added a set of FLO aero wheels to it and immediately felt fast. Aero wheels make your bike look fast standing still. They just look cool – and fast! FLO makes good wheels and the price is among the least expensive in the aero wheel market, so buying a set made me definitely feel faster and part of the cool kids club. How much faster are they? My combo set of wheels will save you maybe 6-10 minutes in an Ironman, according to the FLO wheels website. https://blog.flocycling.com/carbon-wheels/how-much-time-will-flo-wheels-save-me/ Not exactly blazing speed, but you believe it makes a difference. Still worth it, even if looking cool makes you feel faster.

I also bought an aero helmet, which I had read once that can make one faster for a lot less than a set of aero wheels. I’m wearing the dumb thing in the picture at the top of this blog. I have to admit I don’t really feel faster wearing it. I feel rather silly, actually. I will toss it on for sprints, but I’m not sure the aero advantage of it outweighs the overall protection of a regular cycling helmet in the event of a crash. My aero helmet just seems less protective. The dumb things that are on my mind while just riding and racing a bike are sometimes pretty deep.

What else can make you feel faster? A new racing kit? For sure. A new pair of socks? Yes sir. But do they actually make you faster? Well, sometimes you just got to go with what makes you feel like you are.

I’d love to hear what makes you feel faster. Add some suggestions in the comments below.

Author: Ironman Chris

Family, running, triathlon and drumming are my things.

One thought on “The Illusion of Speed”

  1. One pair of my running shoes “feels” faster than the other pair. They’re advertised as fast shoes, but it could all be psychological as I’ve been told they’re faster, so I believe it, then I run it! As for bike kit, I seem to go faster in my “aero road” helmet rather than in my full-on time trial helmet, but who knows…

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