by Matt Gray
For family and friends who know me well, they're well aware that I've never been one to overly indulge in material possessions. Particularly when it comes to clothes and shoes, I live by the motto on a ratty old Patagonia T-shirt that I've worn more than enough times, "Live Simply." I made one pair of Clarks' semi-dress shoes last nearly five years, wearing them throughout Italy, across Europe and into Southern Mexico. Even a crack running across the entire sole on the mid-foot couldn't keep me from still going out for a city wander in those great kicks. My Clarks were magical. One day they disappeared; I suppose someone was tired of looking at them.
As can be seen in the picture above, all this changed when I started running. In between those long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts, fleece pants, fleece tops, rain jackets, windbreakers, and rain pants, (all for running in different weather conditions), are seven pairs of running shoes that I've acquired in just over a year, (and two more pairs don't even fit into the organizer). Each pair is for a particular surface or terrain I might be running. And most strange for me, I happen to also adjust my clothes to match my shoes. The last part is hyperbole; most moments I look at my gear stash and think, "this has gotten out of control."
Unfortunately, it doesn't stop with the shoes and clothes. To run comfortably, there are all sorts of packs, bottles and accessories I've acquired. Each serves its purpose for a different length run or for a mood I might be in on a particular day. Some items serve more basic needs: band-aids, anti-chafe cream, and shoo gu to fix that broken part on my Clarks ... when I find them again.
Why is this stuff important? It's not really, but it serves as another running metaphor ... we have a habit of surrounding ourselves with material goods to be comfortable and to seek happiness when all we need is a beat-up old pair of sneakers, some shorts, a cotton undershirt, and the wide open road disappearing beneath our feet.