23
Jan 04

JogBlog 2: Kit.

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JogBlog 2: Kit.
I hate the word ‘kit’. But it’s not the association with school PE kit, with scabby knees and wet shorts, cold fields and being completely unable to kick a ball in a straight line, that puts me off. Oh no. It’s the way the word is used by the hardware junkies who populate science and especially the military, for whom ‘a piece of kit’ could refer to a billion dollar remote-control space exploration vehicle, some harmless new spectrometer or the latest hi-tech murder machine. In that context it always seems a pathetic lads-mag way of trivialising slaughter: Colonel Cock-farmer and his jolly boys salivating over their new rifle sights the tax-payer has sprung for. In comparison the idea of PE kit seems innocent, even naive.

But running these days necessarily means kit, and lots of it. Upgrading my running shoes last year I asked what the big difference the extra twenty pounds I was prepared to pay this time around would mean. The shop assistant didn’t answer, but picked up my old trainers and, grasping them at either end, twisted her hands in opposite directions — like wringing out a cloth. The shoes crumpled, buckled and twisted under her grip, before springing back when released. Same procedure with my prospective new shoes: they hardly moved at all. If you imagine the pressure the foot faces as it comes down on uneven surfaces, at all angles, and particularly if — like me — your feet have a tendency to roll in of their own accord as your foot strikes the ground, you should be able to see the advantage of having a little more support! I was sold, and didn’t blink as we finally found something to fit my feet — too wide in the wrong places — a few quid over my original limit.

Kit at the moment means being able to run in temperatures close to zero. I’m not up for running in the rain, but given I live in Edinburgh not Glasgow, it’s cold that’s the real bugger… Or at least it was until I could step out of the flat in skintight thermal leggings and a heavy duty long-sleeve T-shirt. NB we picked the leggings which didn’t make me look too much, in CB’s somewhat-alarmed phrase, like ‘a ballet dancer’ below the waist. NB also, I am using the euphemism ‘leggings’ for what should I think, properly be called ‘tights’. Other essential for early mornings = workies’ flourescent tabard, scrounged off a mate in civil engineering, which though about eight sizes too big is at least visible to even the most hungover road-hog of a commuter driver.

I’m never quite sure what to make of the hard-cases you see out and about in all weathers in shorts and a T-shirt: or apparent novices running in layers of sweatshirts and jackets made from decidedly un-breathable materials with none of the special gimmicks and thingummies which the kit manufacturers claim will help you ‘perform’. (And don’t all those promises of enhanced performance sound like something the spam merchants have been offering me in my inbox all year?) I’d like to be able to run by smugly in my warm cocoon of hi-tech fabrics: but I can’t help suspecting that telling youself you need the proper gear before you go out might actually be just another way of putting off the inevitable confrontation with your own unfitness. Of course such doubts will only last until the point where I turn a corner into the kind of wind they use to test the aerodynamics of grand prix cars, but blowing directly from Scandinavia.

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