I can’t believe I’m legitimately writing about clothes

I feel like I give too much attention to what I wear when I’m running. It’s mostly because I hate running (seriously, you didn’t think I was going to stop saying that, did you?), and I latch onto any discomfort and make a mountain out of a molehill.

Basically, ignore the fact that I’m at a relatively healthy weight. If you pretend I’m really overweight, you’ll have a better understanding of how I feel when I’m running. The weight of impact affects my back and knees, so I never run consecutive days. I wheeze and chafe. So much fun.

Because of this, I’ve gotten picky about my running gear. I’ve talked about the shoes before (and the Adidas are working out great). But I want to shift gears and focus on the items that keep me from breaking any indecent exposure laws.

Once I figured out the magic that is a workout shirt that isn’t made of cotton, I felt like Alice traveling down the rabbit hole. There’s the brand new world I never knew existed. I thought runners wore the gear they did just to be weird. I mean, they were running for no apparent reason, so it didn’t seem like such a stretch.

I’m sure these are perfectly nice people, but let’s face it. Running gear is weird.

But now I’m moving closer to the weirdos. It all started with that first shirt. I realized that a shirt could be light and breath without being worn down by 10 years of use.

But it wasn’t a good fit, so I found one that fit closer to my actual shape. And it was like magic. It didn’t get in the way. It breathed. And it was of a color that would catch a driver’s attention, without saying, “Oi! You there! Yeah, you! I’m running. Can’t you see that?!”

This is from my 1st 5K, along with some friends who ran. I have no clue who took the picture. I also have no idea who's camera this is from. Does it count as theft if I just can't remember?
Me, dead center. This is from my 1st 5K, along with some friends who ran. We’re exhausted, and the dog is trying to figure out when we’re going to get started. I have no clue who took the picture. I also have no idea who’s camera this is from. Does it count as theft if I just can’t remember?

I still have that shirt, and it’s still awesome. When it gets a bit warmer, I’ll get to switch back to my preferred running gear.

Unfortunately, living in Florida for 5 years left me ill-equipped to deal with running in the cold, much less in freezing weather.

This was the wind chill for today's run. Not ok. Not at all ok.
This was the wind chill for today’s run. Not ok. Not at all ok.

And so I started acquiring more cold-weather gear. I had some things that would keep me warm but that weren’t really meant for running. They work in a pinch, but I needed gear I could take to the 5Ks and be comfortable. So I paid entirely too much for some Nike cold weather gear.

When I get started for the cold weather runs, it’s an exercise in willpower. I’m not overly fond of running, much less when it means I won’t feel my toes for a good chunk of the run. And somehow I get myself out the door.

And the gear works. I go with a jacket and pants. The jacket sleeves are long enough that I can use those little thumbhole things to sub the jacket for gloves. I also wear two cold weather shirts underneath. It’s so worth it. My lungs do a lot better when I can keep my torso warm. Now oddly enough, I’ve never run in any type of hat or beanie. My face is the only thing bothered by the cold, and hat won’t help that (except a ski mask, which seems like overkill).

And it’s good that I’m at least getting used to it. For the next 5K, forecasts have been oscillating between possibilities of snow and rain, and always cold. It’s the Super Awesome Year of the 5K, not the Super Awesome Year of the 5K If It’s Convenient, so I know as long as the race is held, my butt will be out there putting feet to pavement, so I’m glad I’m finally figuring out how to at least survive the cold.

hot chocolate 5K
That’s my friend Emily. She’s smiling because she just got a PR and she enjoys running. I’m smiling because I got hot chocolate and I’m thinking about the Sonic binge I’m going to enjoy after the race. A complete stranger took the picture, and then I stole the picture from Emily.

I can’t wait ‘til it warms up. I know how to handle exercise in the heat. That’s been my M.O. Texas and Florida have left me very well prepared for dealing with heat of all varieties. (check back in the summer to see if I’m still saying that)

And of course, there are the themed shirts. It started with the Blerch shirt.

This is from The Oatmeal’s comic on running. Great article. Articulated my views on running better than I ever could have.

I liked the idea of the shirt, so I bought it. I even wore it to my second 5K.

This is my friend Deidra beating me at the very end of the race. Had she wanted to, I’m pretty sure she could have beaten me by about 3 or 4 minutes, easily. This was my second 5K, the NERD 5K at UF. The picture belongs to those folks.

And then we got to the Super Awesome Year of the 5K. We had a theme for the year. It was to run a new 5K each month. Simple enough. Between the running gear and the entry fees, it’s a big enough splurge all on its own.

But no. I had to add one more cost because I like jokes that nobody but me really appreciates. I decide that as I’m going to wheeze through these 5Ks, I’m going to wear superhero shirts (the alternative was to wear the previous 5K shirt to the next race, but a friend nixed that by reminding me that most are cotton).

The shy introvert is going to willingly call attention to himself at something he’s not good at. Great idea.

But not only do I want to wear a superhero shirt to each 5K, I want to wear a DIFFERENT shirt for each race. 12 different shirts. I had two because I’m weird like that: Batman and Captain America. I picked up Superman, Spiderman, the Punisher, and the Flash in January. And my latest arrival is the Green Lantern for my St. Patty’s-themed race (side note, I’ve picked my March race) so I could stay on theme. So that’s 7 shirts. And because I’m stubborn, I’ll be pretty forceful about finding 5 more, even if I end up having to wear cotton shirts.

Fun fact: I’ve never actually run with any of them as a bottom layer. I’ve only ever run in the Punisher shirt, and there were two more underneath. I have absolutely no idea how they’re going to fare in a 5K (This is a cardinal sin of racing, and it’s topic I’m going to come back to another time). Pretty sure I’m going to regret my life choices the first time one of those causes me issues. I’m not worried about the shirts. It’s the graphics (which are the reason I’m wearing them). Between affecting the amount the shirt breathes and the possibility of those graphics rubbing against me, I’m concerned.

And what is the product we have when we put all this gear together? A newbie runner. My running gear is mostly unused. I don’t run so often that I need more than 2 or 3 shirts, and I have 13 (3 long sleeve, 10 short sleeve). And my shoes stay sparkly clean because I stay on pavement mostly. It was actually pretty funny because my Brooks are electric blue and one of my shirts is electric blue. It was an unfortunate pairing when I accidentally did that. They were a spot-on match. I wanted to punch myself for that.

I had become one of those weird runners wearing weird gear while running for no apparent reason. Dammit.




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