I love my running toys but they have drawbacks. The chest strap for my Garmin leaves a welt across my chest if I forget to smear Vaseline across it. When I take my top off I look like the victim of an unusually precise sadist. Sexy. That’s when I can find the strap in the first place. I’ve wasted hours over the last couple of years searching for it. Then there’s all the time standing around waiting for the watch to get a signal from passing satellites. I’d be as well waiting for pigeons to evolve vocal skills and have them read a map to me.
It’s not just high-tech that causes problems. Compression gear is supposed to reduce injuries and improve recovery. You’ll find all sorts of advice about that all over the web. What nobody ever tells you is that you look like you’re dressing yourself for the very first time every time you pull it on. There are photos on the Skins and 2XU websites of toned athletes running and posing with their musculature barely contained by straining supportive and elastic technical fabrics. There are no film clips of them flailing their arms like willow branches on a windy day when they’re trying to pull on their compression tops. It takes me fully five minutes to pull on a pair of compression socks. I know I’m weak and physically unco-ordinated but that’s just silly.
Then there’s taking the bloody things off again. You’ve worked quite hard so you’re knackered. In these circumstances getting off a normal t-shirt can be a challenge. It’s stuck to your skin for a start and your arms don’t bend well enough and you’re tired and your brain doesn’t work and you’d like a drink and maybe you’ll just lie on this bench for a while and… And then you’re shaken awake by the cleaner in the gym because he wants to go home and you only have one arm out of your tee. It’s worse in compression gear because it welds itself chemically to sweaty skin and you need to be even more bendy to take it off afterwards. Ordinary socks are easy to take off as long as you can still bend over. Compression socks require special tools and the help of a blacksmith or other sturdy chap.
There’s a lot to be said for naked running. Not running around with your bits flapping in the breeze. That’s probably an arrestable offence in most places. I mean running without the distractions of GPS watches, iPods or any other bits and bobs. It means you avoid some of the issues I’ve already mentioned. See the The Naked Runners website for more information and inspiration.
You could even try barefoot running. If you’re not up to that, pull on a pair of Vibram Five Fingers to protect the soles of your feet. You should manage to get each toe into its little pocket in the shoe on the thirteenth or fourteenth try at the very outside. You might not swear violently and throw them across the room when they fail to go on easily. Even if you do hurl them away from you they should do little damage because they’re quite light.