Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Running: A Lesson in Simplicity or Consumerism?

When I started running, it seemed so basic. Sneakers, shorts, shirt and go.  Pretty cheap, its just you, no membership cost. This worked for me as I was a fair weather jogger for a couple years.

When I started to get serious about running and addicted, I went down the rabbit hole.  Buy a pair of sneakers from ADIDAS just cause they looked cool and were light weight.  Googled cheap running gear, since at this point I felt I didn't warrant the fancy stuff. Old Navy came out with some okay exercise gear ( I still use their compression socks and winter compression long sleeve shirts and hoodie).  Got shin splints, but the clothing worked.

I then ventured onto and was hooked. Everything about running under the Sun was here. I increased my knowledge on form, gear, nutrition, and so forth.  My brain was ready, but I let my body take its time.

Feeling that I stepped into at least a padawan runner role, I now craved more gear.  I spent hours looking online for new running gear, and would venture to Sports Authority randomly on lunch to browse sales. I never bought the running candy though. I asked myself, is this going to make me run any better or just give me some consumer satisfaction that someone else will see me in it?

I did end up buying some basic gear to get me through the winter (tights, beanie, gloves).  But the best purchase for the winter? Vasoline for your face.

My brain craved more running related information. I talk about it too much, need more outlets.. spend spend... no no.

So I created my own little running community and a Google Community page to accompany it. This is still fun and helps satisfy the craving.

But the gear! Oh the gear! Its all so flashy, high tech, new styles every few months, and all over the lakefront path in Chicago.  Gu, sports beans, 100 sports drinks, running belts, oh I feel like a kid in a candy store. I see the new shoes, sporty tech shirts, and all and I get jealous.



Have I been making progress? Am I healthy? Am I still enjoying running? Yes.

Basics- good sneakers, no cotton shirts, posture, and patience. Every day I remind myself this.
Would I love tons of gear? Of course! Will it change anything? No. Keep it simple.

The less I depend on to run, the less I need to run.

Inform yourself. When do we actually need Gatorade? When are gu packets and all that jazz actually needed? Are you impeding your body's adaptation to the new exercise? Inform yourself on training and health, just as much as you do as shopping for the coolest trends, watches, and sleeves.

So my question to you, do you think the giant market for runners is helping attract people to run or just have another venue to look like you graduated from swag school?
Are people just starting out going to feel like they have to drop mad cash to run properly or to fit in? Will they freak out if they read a gu packet label and don't "refuel" every 30-45 minutes?

I try to tell them to take a yoga approach to it, focus form, patience, and  breathing. You will get the rush from running, not looking like a neon marker.

And support your local running store to get your first running shoes!

Please leave your feelings on this! I know as bloggers, advertisement is a big deal and looking good is great, but do we neglect the basics of the run? If someone new to running ran into your blog, are they taking away the best message about running?

My response is -  establish the running thesis, and make sure it doesn't get lost in the consumerism or glamorization of running. I feel I could ramble more than I already did and may have lost myself typing this, but I would appreciate any response, agreeing or disagreeing with anything I said!

Thank you!


  1. I've got a great pair of Merrell waterproof sneakers and that's the absolute end of my running gear collection. Tshirts, shorts or pants. Done.

  2. I've done other sports/weekend pursuits in the past like mountain biking and hiking. Those are overloaded with gear, gadgets, and gimmicks. I think running is very simplified and you'll find more people telling you "No, you don't need a water bottle belt for a 5K". I think it comes naturally because of the sport of running itself. Just you and your feet.

    Shoes may be the only thing beginners could spend too much on.. it's important to stress that you need to figure out your arch and your step and pick the shoe that's made for it. (ie, goto a local running store and ask advice)

    However, where I do think there is info overload is running and diet plans. "Stretch before every run!" Okay so you stretch for six months. Then, you find a new link that says not to stretch.. or you read the seventh iteration of an interval training plan and well you heard really good things about that one plan that's totally different in week three.. it can be overwhelming at first. For blogs, having a simple, easy to find intro plan for beginner runners is ideal. (If that's your intended market)

  3. Also, my favorite tip, by one short sleeve athletic shirt at Target. You'll get the rest of your wardrobe from the 5Ks you sign up for.

  4. I think many of the products available do provide benefits to users. Are they all needs? Probably not. If you're happy with what you've got - great. If you are finishing your long runs and then suffering nausea and dizziness - try fuelling during your run with one of the products out there (I could be speaking from experience). Every person is different.

  5. After getting the goodie tooshoes out in me, I must add, I agree that if people want to spend their money, awesome, stimulate the economy. Their is obviously a big demand for flashy gear that will inspire people to keep working out. That said, we all know that doesn't happen. Just from the standpoint of how to become a better runner, I think a lot of people get caught up in the expansion packs rather than the main game.

    As for the nausea and dizziness, that's never a fun feeling. Are you breathing okay? Posture? Too fast? Once it gets above 65, I need water after around 10 miles. When I used to do Bikram yoga, and I got dizzy and nausea, it was explained as improper breathing, but we panic thinking our body wanted water.

    Thank you for the feedback!!