Saturday, September 10, 2011

All You Need Are Shoes...Baloney!!

"If you don't think too good, don't think too much" - Ted Williams, baseball great

Not long ago, as I was about to go for my run, I turned on my watch to sync with the 9 satellites it could find, I set my mp3 player to the podcast I wanted to listen to, I filled the bottles on my fuel belt, tied the laces on my very technical shoes and put on my moisture-wicking shirt, shorts, and, yes, hat.

As I began my run, I thought about a line I recently read in one of the many running periodicals I subscribe to..."the only thing you need to start running is a pair of shoes". Yes sirree, all you need is the open road or trail and a pair of shoes. So, before I let my mind wander all over the place during my jaunt, I began to foolishly tally up what I put out of my wallet and into my running. As usual, I probably forgot half of what I thought about on the run, but here goes. First of all, you can't run naked. Or, at least you shouldn't...well, at least I shouldn't... so let's look at the basics.

SHOES: Most of us use them unless you are a barefoot runner in which case you will probably pay more for your shoes that are made to look and feel like you are still in your bare feet. How’s that for great marketing? You can go to a place like WalMart and for 40 bucks, you can get a pair of running shoes off the rack that are Nikes...oh wait, the swoosh is upside down! Look out hips, knees, and feet - there's a pounding-a-comin'. OK, don't do WalMart. You really owe it to your body to hit up a specialty running store, like Trak Shak here in Birmingham, and get your feet and gait examined by folks who know what they're doing. They'll run you usually $90-120, but that's all there is between you and the cold, hard, glass and gravel-filled pavement (yes, the hyperbole is for my barefoot friends). And, I’ve read that you should have 2 pairs of shoes, because, like human beings they require recovery time. Seriously? They are a piece of clothing people, not a pet. I just designate my recently retired shoes to 2nd tier - to use when my #1 shoes are not my #1 choice.

APPAREL: Like cheap shoes, you can buy cheap clothes to run in, but nothing is worse than soaking a cotton shirt with sweat and having it get all clingy and heavy on your body (cotton can absorb 17X it's weight in sweat, or just plain water, if it's raining). And, believe me, you don't want shorts that rub and chafe between your legs. That will really make a shower feel like the flaming pit of hell!! So, you better get yourself a moisture-wicking type shirt to run in. There are plenty of big brand names out there that will cost you close to $50. You can get some pretty good cheaper shirts and shorts at Walmart or Target, but just don't expect them to last as long. In the winter, if you're a cold-weather weenie like me, layering is the key. You require a base layer, an insulating layer and an outer layer on the top half, each about $50 a pop. Then, tights will run you from $30 (for fancy long-johns) to 80 bucks for "real" running tights. Moving on to socks, I'm really not too picky, except on the trail. You do much better, again, with a moisture-wicking variety. After that, additional padding, blister free and other specialties are up to you. You don't need to spend $20 on a pair of "Smart Wool" (as opposed to what? Dumb Wool?), but a good pair will set you back $8-10. Lets add another $75 for a Rain Jacket, hat, gloves, etc.

ELECTRONICS: Whoa! Here we go. This is where the cash register really goes cha-ching! You've got to have a GPS watch. How will you know EXACTLY how doggone slow you are running? Or how will you know if the course you run every day is the EXACT same distance everyday? $150 or more. If you want to listen to something other than your own breathing when you run there's the iPod/mp3 player, and what it costs to put music/podcasts on them. Let's say another $50-150. Want to do some high-tech training? Better get a Heart Rate Monitor. Add another $100 to that GPS watch.

EXTRAS: If you run at night you should wear an outer layer with reflective materials and lights. That way, when old folks see your reflectiveness at night, they will gravitate towards the light wondering "What the hell is that?". $20.
Let's not forget the fuel belts you'll have to buy to hold all the supplements and liquids you'll need while out on your longer runs. $15
If you want to find like-minded people to hang around and train with you can join a running club, and they're not free (although probably worth the cost). $30
Finally, during the spring and fall you can run a race pretty much every weekend if you want. But most 5K races alone will cost $20-30 each. True, you normally get a t-shirt and post-race refreshments, and a good portion of your race fee usually goes to some worthy cause, but if you wish to run races regularly, you're going to be out hundreds of dollars a year. And the further the distance, the higher the cost. To make matters worse, the closer you get to race day the higher the entrance fee is. I'm not sure what the point of that is. Let's say a nice round $300/yr and I won't throw in the travel expense.

So, there you are. The "all you need are shoes" tally is over $1100, and that's probably a little on the conservative side. I didn't count gels, drinks, bars, travel, sunglasses, subscriptions to running magazines (that got this whole blogpost started), a bike/gym membership to use when you get injured, or the ever-so-personal jogbra or windbriefs.

Now, with this barefoot thing, I guess the next Runners World article will be "Running is so cheap, you don't even need shoes!". I'll take the shoes, thanks. I'll see you on the roads, and I'll have all the hoopla that goes along with it - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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