Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One Reason I "Ultra" Run: Fashion

Tonight, I got a run in. 3 miles. That's the longest run I've run in about a month.
It was a glorious run at the end of an incredible day.

But do you want to know what I really liked about tonight's run; and so many of my runs?
I did not have to "dress up" for it. I attribute this to the "ultra mindset."

Well, certainly, because it was dark out, there was no need to look runnery (or runnerish?). Spell check is going crazy on both of those words! Running in the dark is sort of due to ultra running.

But I would have worn a ragged t-shirt, non-matching shoes and socks, and ratty shorts even if it were light out. In fact, I would have intentionally worn grey, wool sock (or black ones) if it were light out.

Running long distances has changed the way I think about what I wear. Instead of, "Does this make me look more muscular, more thin, more tan, more fast, more runnery?" my questions are more like, "Does this smell REALLY bad after 5 hours or just sort of bad?" (or using MST3K dialect, "Does this smell bad bad or just bad?"); "How easy is it to get these short off when nature calls?" "What rubs best against my skin for hours on end?" or "Would this shirt make a predatory animal in the night think I look more like dinner or more like the alpha male?"

If this makes no sense, and you want to see a good contrast between the running attire of an ultra runner and that of, say, a more typical runner, let me suggest this exercise:
buy a Runner's World magazine and an Ultrarunning magazine.

Start by comparing the brightly color-coordinated, airbrushed, photoshopped-into-some-resort-styled-background-running scene, floating-off-the-ground, sparkling model on the cover of Runner's World with the sweaty, dirty, earth-toned clad, laden-with-at-least-a-water-bottle-but-most-likely-a-pack, feet on the ground runner on the cover of Ultrarunning. Then start turning the pages and hang on!!

Do you want to know what my favorite piece of running clothes for this winter is? You'll never see it in Runner's World. A pair of dark wool dress pants that I bought from Goodwill for $3. They look like something straight out of a Dicken's novel. The wool is the tightest and thickest wool I've ever seen. I'll get them hemmed for around $30. If I were to buy wool running pants from Smartwool or Ibex, they would not be as thick and they would cost me over $100. It will need to be at least -20 for me to wear these wool pants cause they'll be so warm.

So, with no shame, because of ultra running, I may not ever appear on the cover of Runner's World. However, you'll recognize me out on the frozen St. Croix River as the sharply dressed English chap.


Unknown said...

Too true.
I don't know if I run ultras as an excuse not to shave more than once a week or if I got into ultras because I had to find something to fill the time I would have otherwise spent shaving.

That said I still have a lifelong ambition to make the cover of Runner's World !


Scott said...

I love that idea - I'm going to hit some of those stores. I think its always great to question the expensive gear. Sure I'm cheap, but its also about a mindset. Very cool!