Jason Robillard from Barefoot Running University recently created a blog post titled: Running: The Gear You Carry Predicts Your Experience.
In it, Jason suggests the existence of a relationship between a runner's level of experience and the amount of gear they run with on race day.
"Watch any race of any distance and you’ll notice a trend. The people at the front of the pack carry virtually no gear. The middle of the pack runners are loaded down with gear. The people at the back of the pack have about as much gear as the front-runners."
When I watch a race I am interested to observe the variations in running form, footwear and facial expressions. Similar to Jason, I also keep an eye on how much gear/'stuff' people have with them.
I'm amazed at what some people are loaded up with to help get them around, including races as short as a 10K. I think Jason's gear:experience bell curve is probably not too far off in a many cases.
If anything it may be closer to a linear relationship - as levels of inexperience go up, so does the amount of gear. As I see a lot of first timers, weighed down with their wares as well as the mid-packers.
At the Gold Coast Half Marathon in July this year, I watched as runners came in to finish from around the 1hr45 mark to 2hrs15. Even across this time, changes in form, footwear and especially gear were clearly evident.
In particular, the amount of runners wearing headphones seemed to rise significantly from the 2 hour finishers on. To me this habit is both puzzling and disappointing.
Part of the buzz of race day is the hype and excitement coming from the crowd and other runners as they cheer and support. It seems unfortunate to exclude yourself from that.
Check out my interview with Professor Dan Lieberman to hear his opinion on running with i-Pods.
"The gear promises to make them better."
I would love to conduct a study to determine the relationship between gear and performance. The Naked Runners hypothesis is that running with less gear, (aka running naked) equals not only improved performance, but vastly improved levels of enjoyment as well.
Try it out on your next run or race. Ditch the distractions and leave all the 'stuff' at home. Including (as Jason lists):
"GPS watches, compression sleeves, hydration packs, heart rate monitors, energy gels, fancy springy shoes, reflective diapers, ipods and accessories, various kinds of tape, braces, and straps to keep body parts in place..."
Over time, you will come to rely less and less on all the gadgets which will save you a few dollars and we think will allow you to experience the joy of running as you've never done before!
When was the last time you ran naked? We'd love to hear about it.