Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Crap Runners Don't Need

One of my favorite things about running is its simplicity. I love that I can throw on a pair of sneakers head out my door and be running down a solitary country road or wooded trail in just a few minutes. So you can imagine my apprehension when I scrolled through Fox sports yesterday and saw this:

This is cryotherapy, a new trend that is beginning to replace ice baths in upper level athletic facilities. For a "cool" $190,000 (pun intended) you can purchase one of these tubs and have your aching muscles soothed by jets of liquid nitrogen. The catch? There's no real scientific proof that the therapy actually speeds recovery. In addition, the treatment can actually be dangerous. Sprinter Justin Gatlin found this out the hard way when he got frost-bite following cryotherapy and was forced to sit out the 100m finals at the World Championships.

All this new technology marketed to athletes got me thinking: for such a simple sport there sure seems to be a lot of stuff you "need" to be a runner these days. In such confusing times I've decided to wade through the BS and simplify things for all you sub-15 readers out there. Here's my list of CRAP RUNNERS DON'T NEED:

#1. Vibrams: anything worth doing is worth doing right. Ergot, if you are going to run barefoot, run barefoot. You don't need a $90 shoe to do it. Your metatarsals will thank me later.

#2. Orthotics: remember when these were trendy? I'm pretty sure most people have stopped wearing them or at least stopped announcing it (to avoid being bludgeoned to death by a group of vibram wearing hippies). But, if you've still got a pair throw them out. There's some data to suggest they may actually lead to injury.

#3. Hydration belts: nothing looks goofier then a guy wearing a hydration belt in a 5k race. If you sweat that much in 3 miles you don't need a camelback, you need to see a doctor. Perhaps the only time this accessory is necessary is during a 20+ mile long run. Even then, it makes more sense to me to run a 10 mile loop twice and leave the water bottle at home.

#4. GPS watches: What do you get when you divide the amount of time you spent running by the mile pace you just ran? You get $200 in your pocket by not buying a useless GPS watch. If you really want to know if your run was 9.98miles instead of 10.02 then try mapmyrun.com - its probably just as accurate as a GPS.

#5. Head lamps: my wife bought one of these in December. Big mistake. They go through batteries faster then a 1997 disc-man. Even if the batteries are working the light bounces around enough to cause epilepsy. I've decided that night runs are for treadmills and roads with streetlights.

I'm sure there's much more CRAP RUNNER'S DON'T NEED, but who has the time to list all of it? I recommend this rule of thumb: if your number of running accessories exceeds your 5k PR (in minutes), its time to scale back. And now I'm off to stretch my arch with my Pro-tech foam roller....I just thought of another one.


  1. Is that Screech in the ice bath tub?

  2. Agreed.. well more so at the top of the list and less as you continue.

    1) for the most part your right

    2) Again generally right, sometimes needed but then wean yourself off them as you can.

    3) Ah the fuel belt, I can’t pick which joke to make about the fuel belt.

    4) The GPS is cool. It just is. It has its place; I see how it is very useful on some runs but for the most part is not needed. I have held off buying one and about once or twice a week I wish I had one on. But then again I wish I had an extra $200 more often than that….

    5)I assume you wear reflective gear if you don’t wear the headlamp? As I get older it seems I “forget” to wear my reflective gear less and less. We have both covered enough miles to have close calls be a darn near regular occurrence. I don’t wear my headlamp all the time but it is good for those runs in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep so you just add in a 10 or 20 miler out on some back roads…. What, that’s normal… right?

    Foam Roller? What? I bet that is a type-o. My Trigger Point roller and lacrosse ball are part of the “secret” that keeps me going. Maybe being married means you have a massage partner? Maybe you shouldn’t answer that so I can hold on to that hope.

    Keep up the work, I enjoy following along. I figured it’s about time I chime in, I’ll have to think up of a workout.


  3. You guys are both right. 1) That is Kevin Love. 2) This list of crap runners don't need gets weaker towards the bottom. I do wear reflective gear in place of a head lamp, but even this (I must admit) is a relatively recent acquisition for me. I just realized in the last couple years that I am going to eventually die and I'd rather not have it happen while running. I love innovative substitutes for over-priced running accessories, so I think the lacrosse ball is a great idea. And yeah Fox, its time you give us a workout. Thanks for reading!