One of the things I love about running is the simplicity and the general lack of gear that it takes to have fun. Shoes, shirt and shorts and you are out the door. Like many a gear head I’m prone to overdo it, especially on longish runs and begin to look like Star Wars Character with my running pack, holstered bottles and electronic gadgetry attached to my limbs. Here are a few tips to do more with less:
1. Stash items in your compression socks instead of bringing a pack
This sounds funny but it works super well. If I’m headed out on run that requires taking some of my favorite energy chews, I’ll put one or two packages in my pockets and one in each compression sock in the upper, outside portion of my calf. If you are wearing shorts without much pocket space this is also a great place to stash a credit card or ID. I frequently travel for business and on runs I’ve even carried rental car keys (why do they put every known key on the same key ring?) and my iPhone firmly in my compression socks.
2. Leave the music at home
If you are in the habit of listening to music on a long run, try leaving “Danger Zone” By Kenny Loggins or Queen’s “We Are the Champions” at home in the drawer to serenade themselves. You’ll both be lonely for a few minutes but you’ll both get over it. Not only will you be carrying one less thing – actually two if you include the headphones so you’ll be slightly lighter but your run will be totally different. You will hear things you didn’t hear before (like your own breath), you will see more (maybe more stars if you are doing intervals) and you will think different thoughts.
3. Leave the watch/heart rate monitor at home
“No way! I have to make the most of my workout and let my friends check out my PR on Strava.” Right. Not all of us fall into this camp but I often do and it’s great to take a break. Leave the smelly, constrictive heart rate strap in the closet along with the beeping, blinking watch and pace yourself with your foot speed and breathing – your brain is a pretty good computer. Not glancing at my watch every few seconds has allowed me to focus on my stride, my form and just the simple pleasure and pain of the run that we all enjoy.
4. Bring a credit card instead of food
This can be a ton of fun and you’ll be carrying less. Bring some snacks in your pockets (or socks!) and a bottle to carry and chart a run with a convenience store at the mid-way point. When you get there, take a short break, walk through the doors breathing normally and trying not to look like you just ran from the next town over and purchase a well earned bag of chips, banana or sandwich. It will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Then run home.
I’ve been know to go on a long run with nothing and just find drinking fountains along the way and beg food from passersby (actually it was people camping that were making a delicious breakfast on one occasion) but these 4 ideas are a slightly less radical approach; they will lighten your load, allow you to focus, and if not make you faster at least help you to enjoy the moment.
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