Eventually, running talk turns to gear. What shoes do you wear? Don’t run in cotton. Try merino wool. Our local running store is nothing but gear (most of it aimed at women) and it’s all expensive. The American way to run requires money. There are sunglasses, snacks, and underwear made for runners. I’m not immune to this, but more and more I’m less and less impressed by gear.
A decade ago, I ran 5k with two friends. He was a lifelong fast and effortless runner. She was in perfect shape save for a tweaked knee. He ran in cargo shorts, cotton shirt, and Tevas. She was in brand name running shorts, sexy running top, dri-weave hat, racing socks, and new running shoes. I was between them sartorially and behind them on the run. So it goes.
This morning I went out in lined running shorts and cotton long-sleeve shirt wearing a GPS/heart-rate watch and RoadID bracelet. I left my Luna Sandals home and went barefoot. Halfway into the run, I regretted and removed the shirt. The RoadID makes everyone feel better (myself included) and the GPS/heart-rate watch is for fun. I could do without all but the shorts though there are those who prefer I drop fifteen pounds before losing the shirt. Oh well.
My thinking on gear has moved from “I need everything” toward “I want next to nothing.” I’m uninterested in funding the local running store or the corporations when I’d rather save for a Tesla. The last gear I bought was two pairs of lined shorts from Old Navy. They were on clearance. That was two years ago. I bought my sandals three years ago. They’ll probably last another three years especially since half my runs are done barefoot. My watch was expensive, but it’s fun and ought to last years. That’s about all I need.
You don’t need fancy running shorts or dri-weave or a smart-watch that shows texts from your phone. You don’t need special socks and you sure as hell don’t need new running shoes every few hundred miles.
You need whatever pair of shorts you already have, maybe a shirt, and something on your feet. (I don’t recommend barefoot running to anyone but myself.) You’ll feel the urge to buy stuff and people will push you to spend, but that stuff is beside the point. It’s inessential.
Here’s what’s essential: get off the couch, go out the door, put one foot in front of the other repeatedly at a pace where you can still hold a conversation. That and to have fun. That’s really all you ever need.