I started running consistently over 20 years ago. I had a 3 mile route that was a simple out-and-back. There was a paved trail across the street from my house, and I could get to the Officer’s Club in a mile and a half, turn around, run back, and be home within 30 minutes. Over time I got faster and could run it in less than 24 minutes. I can’t tell you how fast I actually ran it because I didn’t own a sports watch. I would glance at the time on the microwave before I left and as soon as I got back.
Honestly, when I started running, I didn’t own much run gear at all. I had a pair of “running” shoes, which I have no idea if they were actually running shoes. I owned some 100% cotton t-shirts (I would cut the sleeves off for the hot summer months.) I owned shorts, socks, and cheap sports bras. I am a curvy girl so I would have to wear 2 bras at the same time to hold the girls in place. Everything was cheap, and nothing ever got replaced. It was the simplest sport. Just put one foot in front of the other.
As I prepare for this weekend’s adventure, I began pulling out my clothes and shoes for the trek (which is what I call it), or the traverse (which is what my running buddy calls it). I pulled out 4 pair of running shoes. I now only run in the Nike Pegasus. Unlike the newbie runner that I was in 1999, I have since learned that I am a “neutral runner,” and the Pegasus is a “neutral” shoe; Nike has produced it since 1983. It is one shoe that they have up-graded, but never replaced. This becomes a big deal when you see shoes and trends come and go. It has always been important to me to find a shoe that would not be trendy, and therefore removed from the market a few years down the line. As I pulled the shoes out, I said to myself, “who actually owns this many pair of the same running shoe?” Feeling a little wasteful (because no one actually NEEDS 4 pair of good shoes), I continued to prep for the upcoming event – and the blog at the same time.
I also pulled out tanks, capris, socks, and sports bras. I began to realize that my bras are no longer the cheap ones. I have invested in ones that don’t force me to double up. I have very expensive socks. I started accumulating them as I was running marathons. I would buy a pair at marathon expos as a souvenir and reward for getting to the marathon. I would only wear them on long runs, and I would save these precious socks so that they would last as long as possible. Over time, my family figured out how much I valued them, and I would start to get them for Christmas. I got rid of all the cheap socks and began taking care of my feet for every run. I looked at the capris. Some are older, a little pricey, and still working, so they still get used. Some are new and inexpensive, but because they are still so new, they have good compression, so they make the cut. Compression wasn’t anything I cared about for years, but as I have aged, I find it to be very important. I even have special long-run tanks. I no longer wear 100% thick, cotton t-shirts. I want and need light weight, and I need a fabric that will help with the moisture. I also can’t have a tank with a thick seam because my underarms like to chafe too.
As I pulled out each garment, I realized that I had complicated things because running became more complicated. Seldom does one chafe on a 3 mile out-and-back. Seldom do you lose a toenail or even get a blister on a 3 mile run. If your bra isn’t doing it’s job, you are home within 30 minutes. However, when you plan to be on the road for 2 hours or 20 hours, all of a sudden, a chafe CAN become a big problem. You can’t worry that your girls are bouncing around; they have to be held in place. Changing out your shoes, especially if it rains, could save your feet. As I consider the trek or traverse, I can look at all the gear more as essential and not as over-the-top, because as a runner 20 years ago, I would have thought that 4 pair of running shoes was over the top, and I would have definitely thought that running/walking 80 miles over the course of a day was over the top.
I guess the gear got complicated when the goals got bigger. I guess that I somehow turned my super simple sport into something complicated, and I accept that because it has changed my life. Sometimes we make things complicated when we know the accomplishment will be worth it.
ANNNDDDD….The accomplishment will be worth it.
I would be remiss if I didn’t add that I am one of the most blessed human beings on the face of the earth. I am blessed with resources to be able to buy 4 pair of perfectly good running shoes. I am blessed that I have the time to train for things like an 80 mile trek/traverse, and I am blessed that I have my health and strong legs that enable me to do a sport that I love. I count my blessings every day.