Saturday, August 13, 2011

5 YEARS OF RUNNING: Part 1 - Gear Care

Leading up to Dec. 1 and my 5-year anniversary of trading Kools for Asics and becoming a runner, I am posting entries about things I have learned as a marathoner. I hope it might be helpful to others getting into running. Here is Part 1.

On Dec. 1, 2006, I moved into a new home on New York City's Upper West Side and broke a box of KOOLs in half and bought a box of ASICS instead. I remember going on a shopping spree that same day at Paragon Sports in Manhattan, buying lots of running gear, including cold-weather attire. Five years later, I still have everything and it is in good condition.

I have to thank my Big Cats running team friend George, who gave me this advice via myspace in those first days: "You're supposed to wash your gear after you run in it." Yes, even my wife is dumbfounded that I was not aware of this fact. I figured that wicking material meant, cool, I don't have to wash it much. Dummy! So I learned early on to take care of my gear.

Pictured here you can see what is hanging in my basement right now. I have done this regularly for five years. The process has changed a little bit over that time.

In the beginning, I hand-washed ALL my gear. That lasted a couple of years. I think it mainly changed when we bought our house and you have your own washer and are comfortable that no strange machine is going to ruin your stuff. I wash on the delicate cycle with cold water. I also stopped using the "sport wash" detergent after the first couple of years. That is because the stuff STINKS forever and the more people I asked, the more people told me that it makes little difference, and that using regular detergent is good for your gear, as they are tested by the manufacturers to make sure they stand up to everyday detergent.

Do NOT use fabric softener. Running gear does not like that stuff.

I never use a dryer for my gear. As you can see from the picture here, I hang my items up on hangers to dry. That day or the next day I grab it all and put it into my drawers. It dries fast.

I try to never let my socks get into our regular house wash. It doesn't take much to ruin a good pair of Lin socks when they make it into a color cycle with warm water and get into the dryer. I learned this the hard way, too. I had a brand-new pair of expensive technical socks, and I used them for the Miami Marathon last year. They had been washed a time or two in the regular laundry. There was a small seam going across the underside of the toes, unbeknownst to me, and the washing roughed the seam. By Mile 12, the now-raised seam was rubbing the ball of my right foot, rubbing and rubbing, and I finished the last 14 miles with a massive blister on that spot and adding about 45 minutes to my finish time. I lay all my wet socks out just like shirts & shorts.

All my shoes are in my closet. They are pampered. They are babied. They are for the most part out of the reach of our English Bulldog, King Bingley, who did manage to bite a hunk out of the back of my best Sauconys. That was a blip. They are the most important things I have as a runner. They have the capability to injure me or make me fly. When I retire them, I stuff them into drawers in the basement. Once in a while I take them out for a spin, but 300-400 miles and they're in the Newman Running Hall of Fame.

I look forward to hearing how you care for your running gear!

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