In 1972 when I ran one lonely mile in the dark most every morning, it didn’t really matter how I looked. As a matter of fact, 42 years later, in 2014, it still doesn’t matter much to me. But the way most runners look when they run has changed a whole lot over time.
I ran my first race in tennis shoes and my first marathon in a pair of tight-fitting polyester shorts that zipped up the front and had a big pocket. No doubt my feet were better off when I bought a pair of ‘’real’’ running shoes, but the bottom half of me did just as well in a pair of ordinary shorts as it does today in high tech capri tights.
The more the years accumulate, the less I seem to care about how I look when I run. In fact, I find it fun to look a little goofy. I recently ended up with a pair of big, round, very red sunglasses. I love them because they fit well. I have a very small head and most sunglasses end up sliding down my nose.
I’ve been told that these red sunglasses are bad news. My daughter says they don’t match anything I wear and she insists that they make me look silly. I’ve decided to take advantage of this assessment and wear them every time I run. I also make a concerted effort to speak to every runner I pass, wishing them good morning, or whatever is appropriate, and watching to see if they reply, and if they smile.
One of my best running buddies (She shall remain unnamed.) likes to match, right down to her socks. I make a conscious effort not to match. I don’t have to think much about what I put on, and she gets to, well, look all matched up.
One of the things I like about running is that, when you get right down to it, all you really need is a good pair of shoes. However, these days it is possible to arrive at the start of a race decked out in your pink compression leg sleeves, Nike Pro combat compression tights, plus, if you are a woman, in a skinny little black running dress. Beneath it all you could be wearing under armour panties and a shock absorber bra. If you have to ask what this kind getup will cost you, then you don’t really need any of it.
Comfort counts most. Make sure your shoes fit well and the laces stay tied, even if you have to tie double knots. Replace your shoes when they break down to avoid injury. Wear socks that are thick enough to provide some padding. Make sure shorts or tights don’t rub in the wrong places, and layer shirts to be prepared for changing weather. A hat or visor makes sense for protection from high-altitude sunshine. Wimps like me usually start out with gloves in cool weather, and shed them after a mile or so. At the very least they come in handy for wiping a drippy nose.
And don’t forget to wear your goofy glasses.