I read article after article telling me how free running is. All you need is a pair of trainers, a sports bra, something resembling a tracksuit and you are good to go. I used to be one of those people who believed that. In fact the first time I went running I had the all the requisite gear and off I went. I remember coming back, looking at my feet and wondering why they were covered in blisters. I did a little research and saw that it was probably my socks. Socks? I hadn’t even thought of socks.
I was supposed to get new socks? It turns out that I was (preferably blister ‘prevention’) and that was possibly the very moment when running stopped being free for me. Did you know blister prevention socks are over a tenner each? Per pair? They were followed by new trainers. And then it quickly became obvious that running in actual tracksuit bottoms – all that really, really heavy fabric – wasn’t going to help me at all. In fact I may have tripped on that very fabric as I was running. So then came my first pair of lycra leggings. Best to buy some running tops too right? So I did.
By now my trainers were giving me blisters again and more socks were bought and I hoped they would help my feet transition into the new trainers. I woke up one day and realised that my running tops were ugly and grey. They had to go. My leggings were too boring. I need colour in my life.
And on and on it went. In fact almost all of my running wardrobe is now different to the one I started with. The only thing which hasn’t changed is the running bra I use – it’s so old that Shock Absorber have now stopped making it. Yet it works (thank you Shock Absorber). I have leggings which cost a lot of money, leggings which cost very little, sports tops which promise no chafing, no irritation, no seams, no nothing. My trainers are new and very, very pink (so much so that the most muscular man I have ever seen cat called them when I was running outside one lunchtime) and more pairs of running socks then I ever thought possible.
Running isn’t free. If you don’t want your feet to hurt and feel uncomfortable then there is some money which needs to be spent. If you’re a woman and don’t want your breasts to be damaged then more money needs to be spent. If you love sports luxe then you say goodbye to a little more (OK a lot more) money. The ‘free’ element is that it doesn’t have to happen inside a gym. Running is expensive and depending on how much you want to spend, can cost as much as most other equipment based sports.
But this doesn’t mean it can’t be affordable. Once you have the basics – trainers, and sports bra – the rest is available at all price points. And more running leggings are made to last. Nothing I have ever bought, and I have bought things from Primark’s sports range to adidas’ designer collaborations, has ever worn away, thinned in awkward places, or lost its opaqueness. But the wants list – the newest, shiniest pieces of clothing – is never ending. And that’s when it has to be about what you need rather than what want.