By Cindy Lapeña
I’m not a runner. Never did run, except as a kid playing tag or some other pointless running or chasing game, which didn’t really seem pointless back then. I figured early on that I’d never be fast nor would I ever last. Besides, there’s not a whole lot of reading you can do while running. It doesn’t help that your book keeps on bouncing up and down and you can’t focus on any single line, let alone a word. Not to mention you’d end up running into all sorts of things—and people, so reading and running don’t go together.
Are you thinking about running? You have to gear up first, right? They say all you need is a pair of shoes. There are dozens of choices out there. So I read all about them, go to all the shoe stores, even check out specialized athletic shoe stores with those running experts. Step on the funny machine that looks like a weighing scale but actually sizes up your feet. It should tell me all about my feet so I can find the exact running shoe that will be best for me. Done. Got my shoes. Made sure they had all those neon bands on them. Reflectorized means you’re visible, even at night. Night? Who runs at night? Maybe I should also get them with lights. Why don’t they have shoes that light up for grownups?
You can’t wear shoes without socks. That’s so not kosher. Not to mention, callouses guaranteed. You need socks and they have to be just the right thickness. Can’t be those new polyester socks that are all shiny and smooth because your feet will slip and slide in your shoes. Socks have to be cotton. Have to be thick. Now my shoes are too tight. Fine a thinner pair, then. Should the socks be ankle high? Nobody wears the knee-high socks anymore. Unless you’re in NBA. Or NFL. Or one of those other sports. I already have those low pairs that show off your ankles but they're no good, really. Why would anyone want socks that disappear into your shoes? Do the manufacturers ever try them on? Once they slip down into your shoe, you’re walking around with a lump under your heel, then it moves down to the arch and just stays there, like a pebble in your shoe. You have to get those ankle-high ones that hug the ankle so they don’t get eaten up by your shoes. They also recommend a trail shield gaiter. Something to protect your ankles from bouncing pebbles, I think. So, you should get ankle-exposing socks then get gaiters to cover your ankles. I think you should go for the knee-high socks.
Whoever said all you need to run is a good pair of shoes was lying. You can’t go running around in old shorts and a holey tee. There'll be tons of people watching, and what if someone takes a picture of me? Now I have to find the proper outfit. Too loose and it flaps in the wind. Probably causes a lot of drag too. It’s bad enough if you’re slow, wind drag will make you slower. It’ll always be like running against the wind. You don’t want to look like a sailboat, so you should try those new form-fitting spandex outfits. Should you go for shorts? They might be too revealing and if your legs aren’t great, you might want to be less distracting. Plus, if you have to sit down somewhere or trip, you don’t want dirt or grit creeping into the crotch. They’ve got those above-the-knee shorts. Knobby knees? Okay, they’ve got those calf-length ones. They look a little more decent. Seen some light colored ones on a team of male bikers once. Never wear light-colored spandex shorts or leggings. Always go for black. No shadows, no bulges. That’s the only way to go. The only people who can wear those fitting colored spandex shorts are those with completely flat bodies. Even that doesn’t look good when the bones stick out. I stand corrected. They have to have perfectly shaped, perfectly padded bodies with no extra bulges anywhere. So much for spandex. Maybe lycra is better?
Now for the shirt. You can make like you’re really hip and wear one of those sporty comfort bras, if you’re a woman. Then you won’t need a shirt. But it’s October in PEI. And it rained and snowed last year. And there might be a breeze. Or a wind. Do you know the wind chill factor can get really nasty? Okay. You might as well go for those halter-typed running shirts. I guess you’ll still have to get a bra under it, though, so go ahead and get a sports bra anyway. You know what it’s like running without a bra. Unless you’re a guy. Then you think you know, but you really don’t. Stop picturing it, you. Now you need a jacket. Lots of runners seem to wear jackets. I don’t really see why, because you get all sweaty anyway. Why would they want a jacket? Extra safety? Heat retention? Okay. Get a hybrid jacket. Since when did they cross-pollinate jackets? Can’t be a heavy jacket, I guess. Windbreaker? That would create drag, wouldn’t it? It would have to be form-fitting, more or less. I guess less. Pick the neon colored one. Doubles as a reflector. Good for night running. Who runs at night?
You need a pair of pants to put on after the run to keep legs warm. Okay. What kind? Sweatpants should do. Cotton? Doesn’t keep the heat in. Okay, polyester. When did they start calling nylon polyester? Maybe because nylons also meant stockings. But who buys nylons, still? Okay, off topic. Get a hat. Can’t run around in broad daylight and PEI sunshine without a hat. Gotta watch out for those sunrays. Visor? It’ll give you a shade, but the top of your head is exposed. Okay, visored cap. Headband? Handy for keeping the sweat out of your eyes. I know that can be really annoying so I guess that’s a yes. What? Only available in solid colors? Red, blue, white, black? But none of those matches my shoes! What the heck. Nothing matches my shoes, anyway. Oh well. Red, then. Don’t forget the hairclip. You’ll need to consider getting shorter hair. Hair clipped up won’t fit in the cap. Clip it low, then. Ponytail through the hole in the back of the cap. Guess that’s what the hole was made for!
All set. Oh, in case of emergencies? Right. Salt sticks. Check. Energy bar. Check. Electrolyte tablets. Check. Recovery drink. Check. Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate, of course! Now I need a bottle for that. Body bottle? Travel bottle? Whatever. As long as it’s light. Check. Where to put all that? The little stuff goes in a belt pack. Perfect. And the other stuff? Oh, a daypack. Okay. It still has room? Might as well throw in that portable ice massager and that super-lightweight cooling towel. And a cooling recovery wrap. Extra shirt. Flashlight. Anti-friction cream. Oh, there’s a sleeve pack too. Good for tech. Some of it, at least. Okay. Put your mp3 player in a sleeve pack, that way, you can run with your earphones without too much cord hanging loose. Since you’ve got a player, you might as well get a datalink. Whatever for? So people can track you in case you get lost. Of course you don’t want to get lost. Can’t forget that training watch. There’s also a pedometer to count your steps and distance. The training watch does that? Good. It doesn’t tell time, does it? Otherwise, you’ll need those silicone watch bands for your wristwatch. You most certainly do if you’ve never gone anywhere without your watch! Oh yes, don’t forget the heart rate sensor. Check. Are you crossing some trails? Get a bug shirt and bug spray for that. Will you need bear spray? Nope. No bears on PEI. Ahh. That’s good. Moose? None at all. They haven’t figured out how to cross the bridge yet. Maybe you should get a headlamp in case it gets really dark. That way, you can find your way easily. No? But the trails aren’t lit, are they? No trail running in the marathon. No night running either. Unless you want to run the Appalachian Trail, too. But that’s not part of the marathon.
So, we’re all set for the marathon in reflectorized shoes, pants, shirt, and jacket, with a belt pack that now weighs an extra five pounds and a daypack that weighs about 15. Twenty pounds isn’t heavy, is it? Try saying that after running twenty miles with it—and wait until you’re at forty miles! Thank goodness the run is only 42.7 miles. What? I don't really need all that stuff? Drat. I knew I shouldn't have listened to those sales clerks. For a sport that doesn't require a whole lot, there sure is a lot of hip merchandise out there. Since I'm out several hundred bucks anyway, I might as well pay for someone else to bring all that stuff along the route as running support so it doesn't all go to waste.