We started running, in part, because we were poor. Running is kind to poor people. You don’t really need any special gear, and the older and rattier your workout clothes are, the better. Sure, a pair of running shoes will cost you nearly $100, but when you are just getting started, you’re more than happy to settle for the $30 knock-off brand. Because at it’s most basic, pure level, running is about you and your path. You breathe the air, you enjoy the scenery, you feel your body in a way that you don’t normally do, and you think clean, pure, strengthening thoughts (when you aren’t silently cursing stray dogs or pebbles in your shoe or people meandering into your way). Just you and the road, plain and simple.
Or maybe it’s not that simple. Because you get bored. You want to go faster. You develop aches and pains. You wonder what it would be like to try a different shoe, and then you realize that what your socks are made out of can make a huge difference, and you think maybe you’d be a better runner if you swallowed some gel every now and then. And gradually running becomes a complex balance of simplicity and comfort, of primal need and technological excess, of basic health and overexertion.
Over the past year or so, Micah and I have been exploring that spectrum. We’ve gone from, “all we need are shoes, shirts, and shorts” runners, to Garmin-wearing, minimalist-shod, splits-obsessed runners. The latest addition to our little nest of gear is a foam roller. I had hardly heard of this a year ago, but after a week of using it, I’m pretty much converted and would love to evangelize anyone to the benefits of rolling out your legs after a hard run. Remember that “injury” I was worried about? I’d been ice massaging it and rolling it with my (stainless steel) water bottle, and it wasn’t getting any worse . . . but it wasn’t much better either. And then I rolled it out a couple of times with the foam roller and I can hardly feel it any more. And remember my long run on Saturday, and how I hardly felt sore the next day? I credit that, partially, to the roller.
Every day I get a “Kick in the Butt” from Runner’s World, delivered straight to my electronic mailbox. And the other day when I got this one, courtesy of John Bingham (aka The Penguin), I had to laugh. “Of course, I know all the gear in the world won’t make me a better runner. Only time and effort do that. But all the gadgets over the years have sure made my training a lot more interesting — and fun.”
Yes indeed. And while running may not be exactly be our “poor man’s sport” any more, maybe we can comfort ourselves by rolling out our muscles with our “poor man’s masseur” (after all, it only cost $20).
(Squish wore that helmet all afternoon. Just because he wanted to.)