Do you run naked?
There is a growing school of thought that, like so many aspects of modern life, we are over-complicating running.
You’re wearing $200 shoes, a heart-rate monitor and a GPS watch. Your iPod is strapped to your arm and your earbuds in place ... you’re good to go.
But hang on, isn’t one of the great attractions of running supposed to be its simplicity? That low-tech, go anywhere, anytime ethos that, unlike, say, cycling or kayaking, needs next-to-no equipment and next-to-no fuss.
There is a growing school of thought that, like so many aspects of modern life, we are over-complicating running. Whatever happened to the simple joy of running just like you did when you were a kid?
One of the most vocal advocates of this “back-to-basics” approach is Silas Moss, a Newcastle-based exercise scientist. Together with his mate, Dave Robertson, they call themselves “The Naked Runners” and preach with infectious zeal the gospel of keeping it simple.
Moss reckons you should start out standing naked in front of the mirror (a confronting enough thing in itself for many of us), then put on just enough layers until you are comfortable to run.
“Some people may choose to put on shoes, and underpants are always a good thing plus a supportive bra for the girls and shorts and a t-shirt,” he says. “That’s about as far as you need to go.”
No heart-rate monitor, no GPS and - definitely - no iPod.
“No one needs to run with an iPod,” says Moss. “You look at anyone wearing an iPod and they look like they are having no fun at all. Everyone else who is not a runner sees them and says, ‘That’s exactly why I don’t run’.”
Try the “naked” approach, says Moss, and you’ll see your running in a whole new light.
“It gives you the opportunity to connect with yourself and hear your feet and know whether you are starting to pound the pavement or not,” he says. “You’ll also start to reconnect with the people around you and you might even notice something new like a beautiful tree or an animal or a great sunrise.”
I have to confess here that whatever the opposite of the naked runner is, it is probably me.
Here’s the stuff that typically accompanies me on a middling distance run:
Now admittedly I do a lot of trail running where a survival blanket and a trowel can be potentially very handy things to have along.
But all this stuff generally stays in my bum bag even when I’m just taking off round the city for 45 minutes.
I’m also a serial iPod offender, so recently I took Moss’s advice and set off for a 90 minutes on the trails in our local national park with just the bare essentials - and certainly no iPod or GPS.
I came back with a much clearer memory of where I’d been and what I’d seen, heard and even smelled on the trail.
It was a different experience from pounding along to Van Halen or Whitesnake (yes, really) and constantly checking on my pace.
There’s definitely something in what the Naked Runners preach. As in most things, simple is probably better in running.
Is it worth unplugging occasionally and getting back to basics - or would you no more head out without your iPod and heart-rate monitor that you would without your shorts?