Monday, August 15, 2011

The Simple Life

Running appeals to me on a number of levels.  It can be solitary or communal, depending on my mood or available running partners.  Although it is somewhat weather dependent you can run in pretty much any conditions provided you are willing to suffer a bit, and after all what is exercise but organized suffering? You can run anywhere from city streets to mountain trails to a hotel treadmill on a business trip.  It requires nothing but a pair of running shoes and some comfortable clothing; you don't have to put the bike in the car, or drive to the mountains, or find a place to store your rowing shell.

When I started running I had a pair of shoes, some shorts and cotton t-shirts, and my one piece of specialty gear - a pair of white cotton gloves for cold weather.  Packing my bag to run at lunchtime was simple and quick. I was living Thoreau's maxim - "Simplify, simplify."  I decided to get a new pair of running shoes and got fitted properly and had my gait analyzed but that just meant a new pair of shoes to replace the old ones.  The next big purchase was my Garmin GPS watch (with heart monitor) that tracks my every move and presents me with reams of information for study and analysis.  A small MP3 player was needed for the long training runs. Then I got some gels to eat while running; not really gear but something else keep track of and pack.  My exercise shorts really weren't the best for running so I got new ones, plus some running tights for the cold weather.  Since I was at the New Balance factory store I picked up a new top and a running jacket for rain and bad weather.  At this point I was often running after dark so I found a reflective vest with a matching blinking light for visibility.  My dark running jacket wasn't enough so I found a bright orange one with reflective patches.

Then I suffered my first real injury, a bout of ITB tendinitis that left me unable to run for a few weeks.  That lead to getting The Stick and a foam roller for stretching and massaging my sore and stiff muscles and tendons.  Somewhere in here I got a belt for long runs so I could carry water, some food, and my cell phone.  My collection of shirts grew until I had a weight for each possible temperature range, plus several from my races.  During my training for Boston I added monthly professional massages to work out the kinks and help stave off injury. Special trail shoes for trail running, plus a pair of Dirty Girl gaiters for the proper look.  Recently I've had a problem with my calf so I bought a special calf stretching aid that gets used several times a day.  Last weekend I bought an IKEA cabinet to store all of this gear in my guest room, although to be fair it also holds hiking, biking, and skiing clothing as well.

Two nights ago after my long run I finished stretching and was headed over to the kitchen when I stubbed my toe on the calf stretching device.  I wonder if there are protective toe socks that would have saved me from this?  My once simple activity now has lots of gear and packing and choices.  I do love the gear (I'm a gear hound, I admit it) but I sometimes want to head out wearing any old pair of shoes and a cotton t-shirt with nothing but the sun to keep track of the time.

But I'm scheduling a massage session for next week and I need to pick up a new pair of shoes.  I wonder what color the t-shirt is for the Bay State?

UPDATE - 8/22/2011
How could I forget my compression socks?!  They have been on my legs for pretty much every run in the past 3 months and I'm not sure how much they help prevent injury and recovery but they look wicked cool. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

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