What has happened to the simplicity of running?
When did it become so complicated to go for a run, where we have to consume (horrible?) beetroot juice at the right time before we even start running; put on technical outfit that will increase our performance and increase blood-flow; put on anti-chafing creme in strategic places; wear GPS watches that can log everything and even tell you if you still alive; consume gels and electrolytes in the right quantities to not get a runners tummy; use "walking-poles" to help climb those hills; make sure we get that perfect running-selfie to "prove" we've actually been out running; and when finished we have to consume the perfect amount of protein in the right time-slot to optimise recovery and increase muscle growth; do foam-rolling and stretching when we are sore afterwards and if that doesn't help, make an appointment to get a sports massage or at the physio, before putting on compression socks for a fast recovery; And finally, posting our achievements + selfies online for the world to see...
Before I go on, I should probably say that I'm not judging anybody or trying to determine what is the right or wrong way to run, but merely trying to take a step back and reflect while observing myself...
Has it become overly complicated to go running...?
In the past 6-8 months I've come across many runners online and made many new friends. Some are beginners to running while others do multi-day ultras. It's great to connect and share the daily runs, tips for racing, info on shoes, discuss models of GPS watches, be inspired for our next races, etc. Helping out where possible and share knowledge if needed... I love it and thanks for letting me be a part of it :-)
You also get to see glimpse of peoples routines and habits when running or racing, and it's probably inevitable that these habits, good or bad, spread to other runners when sharing our experiences.
I'm no exception! I too get inspired by others. I don't do all of the above-mentioned "rituals", but I have some. I try to stay hydrated before a run and not drink too much coffee. I either run on an empty stomach (early mornings) or approx. two hours after eating to let the food settle. I bring electrolytes on long runs or if it's hot as I sweat a lot and electrolytes are needed along side with water. I have recently started using gels in races as I find them very convenient, tough expensive. I wear compression calf-sleeves even though I'm unsure of the effect - I guess I simply like the feeling of them ;-) I wear a GPS watch with a heart-rate monitor so I know I'm alive. I most often bring my camera to take that perfect selfie to "prove" I've been out there conquering those miles. I stretch immediately after my run but no foam-rolling. I usually have a glass of milk to re-hydrate before hitting the showers but no added protein :-) And yes - I do post selfies and my results online!! ;-)
Now, taking that step back while observing myself; have I made it more complicated than necessary to go running? Is it worth the extra effort? And do we actually gain any performance from it?
The answer is probably Yes and No! I could run without a camera, GPS watch, HR monitor, calf-sleeves, etc. But will I loose these things to make it less complicated to run? Not likely! I might loose the calf-sleeves at some point to get a more even tan on my legs ;-) and I may leave the camera at home once in a while. However, I like to share my runs, and the beautiful sunrises in those cold winter mornings, the clear blue skies along the river on a perfect summer day :-) So I'll continue to carry my camera around on my slow/longer runs :-) And do the things I like about running - regardless of what other people may think :-)
See you out there... happy running!! :-)