I don’t need to go into the hype-or-not-you-decide of barefoot running. There’s already too much out there. For a lot of under-the-radar runners though, barefoot or minimal or natural running was a way of life long before it became a product you could sell. For me, it was largely due to injury and the choices in lifestyle sports which made me run 99% of the time without shoes way back when. And then when the product came around, I was ready to cross-over my running into other domains more easily. And that’s when I was confronted by a whole different take on what “minimal” means…
Now before I launch into my observation of the curious, I am keenly aware that “each to her/his own” and that everyone is at a different stage of running and the enjoyment of their sport. Respect is key. R-e-s-p-e-c-t…
Disclaimer aside, I am noticing a lot of runners embracing the barefoot or minimal training ethos by the number of products they’re wearing. And that’s when it struck me: since when did barefoot running on a “minimal” shoe become about the products? You see, for me, “minimal” doesn’t just mean the shoe. It means the clothes and gadgets too. It incorporates the lifestyle and your approach to everything inside and outside of running. It’s a no fuss, no-nonsense approach; simplified. The bare essentials. Simple yet no simpler.
It doesn’t mean putting on a pair of VFF, an iPod, a CamelBak, stashing an array of gels, a multi-purpose survivor headband, a GPS device, a poly-carbonate whatsathingy, tinted glass titanium-framed sunglasses, an HD helmet cam, a HRM along with multiple layers of high-tech clothing after you’ve donned nipple protectors and specialised chaffe cream 20 minutes before consuming precisely 250ml of pre-race nutrition…. Minimal? You may as well run with Hummers on your feet.
Yes, some races require a CamelBak. A GPS device is nice. It’s cool and really useful- something that may also save your life too, depending on the race/conditions. So is a HRM and all the other gadgets and gismos I’ve listed above; very useful. The iPod on a trail run still eludes me though. Seriously. I don’t get it, but if it rocks your world.. so be it.
Point is, there’s nothing simpler than just pitching up to a race (or a training session) in a pair of “tekkies”, a shirt and a running pant; and then just doing it. Our gadget obsession pervades our lifestyle and complicates our lives so much so that I am beginning to hear too often the excuse:
“But I don’t have a pair of trail running shoes”
“But I don’t have a HRM”
“But I need to get a GPS device first”
Indeed, prudent and careful use of any of the above will definitely add to your racing and training. But it’s never an excuse why you didn’t do something. “Just do it” some brand/company once said. So why not?
And don’t get me wrong. As much as most folk, I love gadgets. I have a lot of them and use all of them. But there are times when I ditch all the fancy gear and just go. It is possible to run without knowing your heart rate or current average speed :p
Free yourself every now and then of the trappings and just go out there and have some fun.