Monday, November 14, 2011

Trail Running and the Maximalist Ethic

            There is a certain vein of piety to the minimalist movement.  The logic goes something like this: If I eschew the comforts of modern society (flat screen TVs, fossil fuel burning cars, McDonalds monopoly, etc…) then I will achieve a higher level of goodliness than lesser, materialistic Americans.

                              There may be some truth to this, but I disagree even if it is true:
             I love my HDTV; I love watching football on Saturdays and Sundays, and now Thursdays too!    My car – it is great for driving around town.  But what if I’m headed somewhere that has managed to outsmart global warming and still has snowfall?  You better believe I’m taking my brother’s gas-guzzlin’ SUV.  And McDonalds is awesome, so what if their chicken nuggets aren't certified free-range and organic.  I love their french fries too, and one day I’ll get that stupid Boardwalk monopoly piece.
            The great part about America is that we can all live together, minimalists and maximalists.  Unfortunately, I’m beginning to notice a disturbing trend in ultrarunning.  The phenomenon of the minimalist mystique.  Find any gathering of trail runners nowadays, and your likely to hear the following conversations:  What’s the heel to toe drop on your shoes?  Do you carry a pack? Handhelds? Water? Gels?  Do you use a Garmin? Timex? Sundial?  I made it 6 hours on 2 Gu's and handful of many calories did you need? 

 Personally, I have a pretty strict policy on the gear I use.  If it’s on sale and it’ll help, count me in! 


Without dissecting my entire running outfit (blog rules - no sponsors, no free advertising), here is a rundown of the most important items – my color coded coat system.

Orange coat – warm shell
Green Coat - windbreaker
Red Coat – Bombproof rain jacket

When in doubt, I bring all three with me (and those who know me, know that I am full of self-doubt).  You never know when a bluebird day is going to turn into the 2011 edition of Run Rabbit Run!  Besides, I’m banking on my 10% odds of getting into Western States, why should I dismiss 10% chances of rain?

You say: “All of this gear weighs me down and distracts from the true experience of trail running.” 
I say: “If a two pound pack weighs you down, get a little stronger (or use hiking poles).”

All of these things make my life easier!  Why drink from a stream when I can bring water with me?  Why nibble on roots and berries when Hammer and CLIF put so much effort into these gel packs?  If I am ever that desperate to cut a few ounces off of the weight I carry, I’ll drink a few less beers the month before a race and limit (not eliminate!) deep-fried food.  To this day, noone can explain to me why they are so upset to summit Pikes Peak and see all of that wholesome awesomeness.  Embrace the doughnuts and soda fountains, use the bathroom!  We can’t build mountains, so why not add amenities the ones we already have?! 

One more thing – Hoka wearers, buy some real shoes.  You are taking this too far.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm trying not to actually quote your blog in the comments section on your blog. But it might be the only way to explain to my sig other why I'm laughing.