So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Keep It Simple - Part I

“It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.” 
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), during a lecture, Oxford, June 1933

When is the last time you walked into your local running emporium to purchase a pair of shoes?  In a perfect world, if you’re like me, the duration from arrival-to-purchase is brief; I know (down to three makers/styles) the shoe I need.  I don’t need to try them on or do a brief jog in them.  Just set the box on the counter and swipe my American Express card.  Thanks, and I’ll see you in about ten weeks.
My $500-per-year running shoe habit probably covers a little less than 1/1000th of a store proprietor’s yearly expenses.  My few gizmos, gadgets, and apparel - thank heavens - have longer life spans.  The entry-level runner is more likely to be welcomed with open arms into "SHOES 'R' US" than frugal/cheap runners like me.  "GAIT-O-RAMA" associates love to see the person who just got finished reading the “five weeks to a faster 5K” or “crush your first marathon” article in the glossy running magazine or on the interlink.  There's nothing like seeing the newbie runner drool as they finger their way through the jogger-porn and look with longing at advertisements for the newest electronic training gadget, or hydration system, or symphony-quality earbuds.  There are benefits to many of the apparel items, multifunctional watches, post-run recovery gadgets and technological “nice-to-haves,” but Murphy’s Law posits that the higher-ticket item leads to a greater and more irrational dependence.  The more dependent the runner becomes on them, the more likely they will either go missing the day before the race - requiring a very expensive replacement during the race expo - or die/malfunction on the day of said race.
(If you have considered participating in a triathlon, I advise you to NOT buy any expensive technological gadget, especially one which plays music or speaks to you on the run.  Trust me.  You’ll either thank me or the referee who does not have to assess a penalty later.  But I digress.)
I’ve killed music players, had pace/distance/heart rate/training tracking gadgets malfunction beyond all recognition (I think the technical term is “FUBAR”), and slunk away like a hound caught piddling on the living room carpet as my wife discovered a portable hydration bladder-turned-petri dish.
Einstein’s goal of achieving simplicity without loss of the necessary holds true, especially for runners.  Do you need a fancy wrench set to tighten or loosen a bolt when a pair of Vise-Grip pliers might work as well?  It all depends on how many times you plan to do the job.  If it’s a one-shot deal - or (like triathletes) we’re trying to find out what we really need early on - the odds are good we can use more-simple tools.  Once you figure out what you can live with/without, then we can gradually acquire the stuff which works best for us.
The simplest needs for every runner regardless of the distance or the coach are a training plan, a way to measure distance, a way to figure out how long they have run.  There needs to be a place to store all this information, as well as the effort expended and how soon another pair of shoes will be needed.  I’ll talk more about the simplest measures of distance, time and effort in the next installment.

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