Gear guide #1

Running is a minimalist sport, or at least that’s what I thought when I first started running. You see, I came from the world of bicycling – an exhaustive universe populated by parts and tools and little strips of neon to tether pants.

In comparison, running was so low-tech it almost seemed primal. All you needed was a burst of energy, a pair of shoes and something approximating bipedalism. Ancient civilizations did not bicycle; ancient civilizations RAN. (Although possibly only from/into battle with dinosaurs, if the convincing dioramas at the Creationist Museum are to be believed.) It’s almost as if we were put here for a higher calling, and that calling is to run from stuff.

Early man takes to running.

But those simpler times are long gone, and I’ll be the first to admit my own part. Where I once loped amiably through town in a simple tweed vest and lace-up boots, now I’ve steadily built up a formidable collection of performance garb. In the olde days, mid-run fuel meant replacing the pie cooling on my neighbor’s windowsill with a crisp dollar bill. Today I have a special shorts pocket just for energy gels.

And then there are the iPod armbands, water-bottle coozies, inhalers, wicking garments, knee sleeves, training journals and Runner’s World subscriptions. I’m not proud. But nor can I go back to those dark days before the dawn of autohydration jackets.

So if, like me, you’d like to look less like Pheidippides and more like your body is the getaway vehicle in a Lady Foot Locker heist, allow me to recommend some of my all-time favorite gear. (You’ll have to hunt these items down in real life to secure the prices I’ve listed.)

Shoes: Asics GT-2150, $80

2009 RW Editor's Choice

I’m not gonna lie—I initially chose these shoes because they’re black. When I first started running, the repressed high-school nerd in me needed to assure the world that though I might’ve temporarily stepped out of the comic-book store for some physical fitness, I was certainly no white-shoed JOCK. Initially, these were the only black running shoes on the market, and they complemented my Night of the Living Dead T-shirts perfectly.

But as it turns out, they’re also very highly rated by the esteemed Runner’s World. And myself. (But Runner’s World probably has more journalistic credibility because they actually tried out other kinds of shoes.) In conclusion, these are the greatest shoes ever, particularly if you have skyscraper arches like me. Sure, your feet might be steadily giving up on life—plummeting you ever closer to the Earth’s core with each passing year—but at least they look like a pair of cozy badasses while you’re running.

Shorts: Adidas Response 4 Baggy Shorts, $2

TWO DOLLARS!

My personal fashion sense can best be described as remedial. In fact, the day 13-year-old boys stop monopolizing the wear of  T-shirts featuring wisecracking animals riding skateboards will be the day I stop being mistaken for a 13-year-old boy. But when it comes to running, I’ve been looking pretty sharp lately. Here’s my secret: THE ADIDAS OUTLET. Seriously. I found this pair of shorts for TWO DOLLARS.

I’ve tried quite a few short-pants designed for running, and these are the most comfortable and flattering. They’re not too short, they have a zipper pocket in the back for your delicious Gu, and they have that meshy underwear sewn inside that should be a feature in all clothes. In fact, maybe I should just start buying meshier underwear. I love it so much. For the price of a Ghostbusters DVD or your morning Four Loko, you could be partying in these shorts!

Handheld bottle carrier: Nathan Quickdraw Plus, $12

Aids hydration, hampers high-fiving

This is my favorite running gizmo that I own—simply a water bottle in a pocketed coozie that fits comfortably over your hand. It’s perfect for long runs and people who fumble the paper cups of Powerade down their shirts during races. I’m sure you’re wondering, “But is the pocket big enough to tote my T-mobile Sidekick?” Sadly, the answer is “no.” But it might be big enough to fit a sensible, grown-up phone, while featuring a handy key clip and enough steerage space for badassthmatics to stow an Albuterol inhaler. (Advair users will have to resort to alternate measures, like pulling an oxygen tank alongside on wheels.) The best part about running with the Nathan Quickdraw Plus? Your lifeless arms are released from T-Rex stasis and finally given a job. And a paycheck—just wait ‘til you see the sweet guns to be built with the Quickdraw!

As next month is my birthday, I hope to be reviewing new accoutrements shortly. And if any of my readers at Timex would like to hook me up with an Ironman Triathlon Global GPS watch, I’d be happy to devote the next five blog entries to reviewing and geocaching with it.