All you NEED is a pair of shoes.

Runners often talk about loving the simplicity of the sport.  Maybe we’re uncoordinated and appreciate that we don’t have to catch/throw/juke/swing while “playing” because those words translate into dodge/drop/fall/miss…

Maybe we love the peace and quiet found through the meditative motion.  The thudding of our feet on the pavement as our thoughts wander elsewhere.  True simplicity.

Maybe it is the only activity we can fit into our hectic lives because you can do it anywhere.  You can leave from work on your lunch break, wake up at the crack of dawn or lace up your shoes late after your kids have gone to sleep. Alone or with friends.  With a stroller or in a running group.  Competitive or personal. 

Whatever it is for you… running is accommodating.  You can make it yours.

THAT is what runners say. 

But it was, if not surprising, definitely thought provoking when I read the state of the sport report issued by Running USA for 2011. 

Here are the things that really caught my attention:  please see the entire report, so that the things I found interesting don’t mislead you…

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That is a seriously rich white average runner.  All you need is a pair of shoes… my butt!  Now, keep in mind that the survey was given to “core” runners who (pay to) participate in races or subscribe to running magazines.  This may not be the real runner population because there are a lot of real runners (lol) who run for themselves or run privately because they aren’t into all the craziness that comes with running.  Maybe there are a bunch of less affluent minorities running in the streets, but not joining in on race day because it’s too expensive.  I’m not sure.  You’ll have to convince me, though, that running is really a sport that we ALL can play. 

Has culture and the recent running craze turned running into an elite activity, or are the roads and tracks still open to everyone?  Do you get the stink eye if you show up in a cotton t-shirt, some old gym shorts and some borrowed sneakers?  I’m really not sure.  What do we want it to be?  Who de we, as runners, want to be?  I have a new found respect for programs like girls on the run and races like the Helvetia Half Marathon, which donates over 100 race entries to a local high school running program every year.       

All you NEED is a pair of shoes.  Fine.  But how much do those shoes have to cost, and what SHOULD you be wearing in order for the running community to welcome you in?

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2 Comments on “All you NEED is a pair of shoes.”

  1. Alex says:

    You really don’t even need the shoes… Remember when you were a kid and you ran everywhere? Mostly without shoes even! I dig the simplicity and privacy of a good run — out in the elements, with the dog showing you how to keep it going, and with my head patiently sorting out all the things on my mind. Coming back home after brings a big Aaaaahhhhh for all that and a nice endorphin buzz and esteem building gratitude as well. Nice to read your words, sista! keep blogging!

    • Hey! Thanks for reading… and commenting! Sometimes when I’m having a tough run, when every single step just feels like a struggle, I try to remember the freedom and joy that I loved when I ran through the sprinklers for hours as a kid. Hmmm… maybe I would still feel that way running barefoot on a grassy field with sprinklers! Doesn’t sound so bad.


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