Don’t Be “Shocked” By Running Gimmicks

Don’t Be “Shocked” By Running Gimmicks.


The Emperor’s New Clothes

Today’s topic – running apparel. This is something that may seem pretty uniform upon first glance when looking at a group of runners, but is actually a hodgepodge of different styles haphazardly thrown together. Today I would like to take a look at some of the “styles” runners are sporting at races. In the interest of full disclosure, I am definitely guilty of some of these, so have a sense of humor.

1. “The Abominable Snowman” – This winter you are going to see people that run in the standard light jacket and tights combination. Then there are the runners that apparently fear the cold so badly that they wear enough layers not only to shelter them from it, but also to protect them from any passing Buick that carelessly meanders off the road into their path.  Is this really running?  I thought the whole point was to warm up while you were running rather than looking like you are taking “One small step for man”.

2. “That 70’s Guy” – Occasionally you come across that runner who pulls his socks way up to his knees and thinks that his shorts must be pulled up equally.  He pulls them up so far that the waist band is nearly up to his armpits BUT STILL finds a way to tuck his shirt into the shorts.  I thought running as fast as you can was bad enough.  Never mind giving yourself an atomic wedgie right before the race.  This isn’t just a 70’s look, it’s an “I was 70 in the 70’s” look!

3.  “The Blankman” – These are the men and women that dress in racing outfits that look so much like superhero suits that they probably didn’t register for the race with their true identity.  I love racing with these people because I know that if a group of street toughs tries to mug me in the middle of mile 2, the poor man’s X Men will be there to save me.  If only these people had super speed. Much of the time these are the same people that inspired the saying used by this blog, “It’s not how fast you are, it’s how fast you look.” So, the next time you run across Spider-man’s velocity challenged little brother, fear not! He probably just looks faster than you.

4.  “The Camper”– Do you REALLY need to bring 12 Cliff Bars to run a half marathon? I see people that look more like they are taking a journey with Indiana Jones than going on a 13.1 mile run.  Their running belts are so full with water and “gear” they look like they plan on repelling through the race rather than running it.  I have seen it all.  People bringing ham, large quantities of cliff bars, excessive amounts of gels and my personal favorite, a credit card!  What? Are you planning to stop for a nice dinner around mile 8 and pick it back up in the morning?  This is a race people, not a hike in the Serengeti for Pete’s sake.

5. “The Halloweenie” – I have to say I really don’t have a problem with people who feel the need to dress up in crazy costumes and run a race.  If you want to run 26.2 miles dressed as the Eiffel Tower, you’re a better man than I.

And finally………….

6. “The Streak” – This running fashion faux pas is common with both men and women alike. You all know who I mean.  Those runners who wear just enough to NOT get arrested.  I have thought about it a long time but I still can’t figure out the reason behind this.  Is it for less restrictive movement?  It can’t make THAT much of a difference.  Is it to make me want to blind myself with Gatorade at the next aid station? Or distract me until I run into a light pole? Either way, I think we all can agree that the last thing we want to see when we are struggling to make it one more mile is someone’s half naked backside flopping around in front of us. I can only hope that someday a spectator screams from the sidelines, “The Emperor has no clothes!”

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Now that the introductions are over let’s talk about getting through the winter.  So far most of us have enjoyed unseasonably high temperatures until now.  It is time to toughen up and continue to run outside.  Even if you use a treadmill during the really cold days, try to make it a point to get outside for at least three miles, twice a week. I made the mistake of getting on a treadmill all winter in the beginning of my running life and when spring finally came I could not figure out why the street stopped moving on it’s own under my feet.  Let’s face it, the treadmill is like methadone for running addicts.  It might get us through but ultimately we want and need our running fix outside.

If you’re anything like me you tend to backslide during the holidays.  Yep, I put on 12 pounds as I do every year and now it’s time to lose it or face being the proverbial toilet paper of the racing community, “bringing up the rear”.   So far I have taken six of them off but the other six seem to have set up shop around my waist and love show themselves off when my sweat soaked shirt is clinging to my midsection. Time for me and all of you out there to get a better grip on our diet.  My best weight loss comes from eating a raw vegetable diet, plenty of fruit and cutting out as much fat and carbs as possible.  By the end of February I should be the sleek, speedy Adonis that I was in August.  This is possible for ALL of us with some discipline.  When I see sweets, I see poison for runners.  When I see breads, I picture my race times looking more like someone’s  zipcode than a finishing time.   After a while unhealthy food is something you don’t even want anymore.

Lastly I want to address one thing that bugs me all year but even more often in the winter.  When I am running on a sidewalk or on a trail I inevitably come across people who are all bundled up and out for a walk.  Sometimes with a dog and sometimes with a spouse.  Let me be clear, I am an overly friendly runner and will give the casual wave to someone I am passing.  So I ask myself how do these people seem to find a way to take up the entire trail and look at you with the blankest of stares as if they can’t figure out why someone would want to run without being chased by someone or something.  It can be the oldest, skinniest of grandmothers out there and somehow she will suddenly expand to block my path in an instant and then look at me with a hollow look the likes of which I have not seen anywhere but a zombie movie.  Really, there is something wrong with these people that don’t run.

The Beginning

Since this is my first post, let me give you a brief history about myself.  I am 43 years old and a carpenter/woodworker.  About 25 years ago I thought it would be a good idea to pick up a cigarette.  NOT a good idea! For the next 20 years I smoked nearly two packs of Camel Lights a day.  At 38 years old it was time to quit or get used to the idea of dragging an oxygen tank behind me in the future and dying a very miserable death quite prematurely.  Success!  No more smoking but unfortunately 30 pounds seemed to materialize out of nowhere.  The only way I knew to lose the weight was diet and exercise.

In high school I was on the track team, mostly just to hang out with my friends.  To say that the team did not benefit from my membership would be an understatement.  Since this is the only sport that ever led to any serious weight loss in the past, why not try it again?  After the first “run” of half a mile, I started thinking that this was going to be impossible.  It never seemed this difficult in my memories of high school track.  Walking the rest of the way back home I decided to give it another shot in a couple days.  At least this time that horrible feeling of exhaustion and loss of breath would not take me by surprise.  Week after week went by and I worked my way up to a few miles very slowly.  The weight was starting to disappear and this gave me even more incentive to run longer and faster.  One day my father approached me and said that I should enter one of those local 5k races.  This is something that never crossed my mind before and something I was completely against?  Go to a race with a bunch of runners and look like a fool?  No way!  After my dad’s incessant attempts to get me to sign up,  I finally gave in.  The first race was “The 5k Mayor’s Run Against Breast Cancer” and I was scared to death. Eventually I accepted the fact that last place isn’t so bad as long as I finished.  The gun went off and I started running.  It didn’t turn out as bad as I thought.  Finishing about mid pack of 150ish wasn’t bad with a time of around 30 minutes and 30 some seconds.  What a rush!  I was hooked.

Fast forward to 2011.  Last year I raced 53 races which included 10 half marathons, a full marathon and a 50k which netted me 35 awards.  I even came in first overall in one of the shorter races.  Now I run 5k’s in just under 21 minutes, half marathons in 1:38 and still have plenty of work to do.  I have to say that running has not only made me healthier and happier but I have found a large group of friends within the running community that are very supportive of each other.  I think that may be the greatest award I have received.


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