Well, it’s Holiday time and everyone is asking friends and family “what do you want for Christmas”? For runners there is always something new we need (or think we need). Who can’t use new shorts, new tops, new shoes, etc.?
That got me thinking about an old song by Billy Joel including the lyrics “The good old days weren’t always good…..”. In terms of running gear it certainly turns out to be true.
Back in the 70’s around the time of the beginning of the running boom we wore white, cotton knee socks! Ugh. Why knee socks? No reason other than “everybody” was wearing them. Nowadays they are making a comeback and are called “compression” socks, are made from technical fabric and come in all sorts of colors and logos. Funny thing, there is still no good reason for wearing them (no scientific reason anyway) but, if the “elite” runners wear them then they must be good for me, right?
Short shorts! Everyone wore them, even basketball players but men wore them at their peril. More than one instance occurred when a man would lose his “package” during a run. Not a pretty sight! So glad we now have long shorts, certainly a change for the better. Back in the “good old days” women didn’t have to be concerned, back then it was considered unhealthy for women to run (too physically demanding). Now, an American woman (Shalane Flanagan) is the first woman to win the New York Marathon in 40 years wearing shorts and a running bra that would have been scandalous 40 years ago!
Cotton sweat pants and sweat shirts! By the time you got done you were carrying around 2-3 extra pounds of sweat! Yeah, they kept you warm until you stopped and then the sweat turned into cold and damp underwear. Brrrr. We have lightweight, breathable technical material in all sorts of colors and styles. I think I’ll keep my sweat pants for wearing around the house when I feel lazy!
Shoes! Back then all we had were basketball shoes (sneakers) or maybe track shoes. No support, no cushioning, no treads, just plain old shoes. Nowadays there are so many variations it’s hard to decide what works for you; stability, neutral, motion control, foam, lightweight? Do you pronate, supinate, have a neutral gait? What does all that mean? My recommendation, go to a specialty running store, they have experienced runners who can help.
So if someone asks, what do you want for Christmas? Tell them “give me a gift card”! That way everyone is happy. And don’t worry. By this time next year they will have worn everything out so they’ll need replacements. I mean, really, who can’t use another pair of running socks!