Rick's Space

Running In Place

Getting into gear for a morning jog takes work

I knew it was a mistake when I agreed to take up running a few weeks back.

Yes, back in school I was a runner, and a fast one. In those days you wore the same sneakers no matter what sport you were playing.

Nowadays, the choices are endless.

Nike offered basketball “shoes” — they are sneakers, I kept telling the sales kid — as well as tennis, baseball, running, and so on. All the big companies like New Balance, Reebok, Adidas, et al, offer sneakers for cross training, though, I explained, I was a heterosexual.

There were colors combos for every taste and style. They had Metcons, Pegasus, Air Force 1, VaporMax, Free, Cortez, Air Max, Huarache, and Janoski, which was the name of my grade school janitor. Nike had the new Kaepernick, for kneeling. “That’ll come in handy in church,” I pointed out.

When I say the color combos were ugly, I mean ugly, like lime green and day-glo orange. All the “shoes” were at least $90 and some of them were upwards of $200.

I informed the salesman I was interested in returning to my first love. “A blow-up doll?” he asked. “No. Running.” Once I’d clarified that point, the young salesman was very helpful.

He suggested I buy the Nike Epic React Flyknit Men’s Running Shoe, which provides crazy comfort. “Nike React’s foam cushioning is responsive yet lightweight, durable yet soft.” This attraction of opposites “creates a sensation that not only enhances the feeling of moving forward, but makes running feel fun, too.”

Of course, I was more concerned about minor little things like my pounding lungs, my aching back, and my aging heart. “Well, these are for cross country,” he said. “If you want to go shorter distances there are other models.” What if I want to run over to the basketball courts? Will I need three pair of sneakers?

I agreed to buy them but I was by no means finished. It turns out I needed the outfit. There’s the Men’s Dry Element Half-Zip Running Top (preferred color Sequoia, I kid you not); Under Armour undershirts. There are tops, T-shirts, hoodies, pullovers, vests, pants, and shorts.

All of these items are “sweat-wicking,” which I found comforting to know.

Then there are the half-socks, as I call them, which come up to the ankle and abruptly stop. Most guys are used to the white socks that come halfway up our lower legs and have a colored double stripe up near the top. They were three for $14.95. The ankle sock, which uses a lot less cotton, is more expensive. It didn’t seem logical, and when I tried a pair on, I felt like I was walking around with something missing, like wearing no underwear under my jeans. Maybe it was just me, because sometimes as I get older I actually forget to . . . Well, that’s a subject for another column.

I got out the door for under $500, which, all things considered, was a reasonable amount considering the gear would provide me incentive to pursue by new healthy lifestyle.

Did I mention the ventilated running arm band? That’s where you stash your cellphone with the ultra-light mobile phone case, and of course, your Marlboros and a lighter. Now I would have thought you put that stuff in the fanny pack, but apparently that’s just for show. One other thing: men sweat, so I loaded up on wrist bands, arm bands, head bands, etc. “Do you have big toe bands?” I asked. “Mine really sweat.” He assured me the “wicking process” would keep them nice and cool tucked in there under the half socks.

The first morning I got up and put my gear on. Then I realized I had spent so much time getting ready that I didn’t leave any time for running. I had to go to work.

About a week later I started feeling a twinge in my lower back that got progressively worse, as if all the nerves in my spine were stinging my lower back discs, sending excruciating pain into my central nervous system that was redistributed all over my body, right down to my big toe, which started sweating profusely.

I went to the doctor and asked what was wrong. He said, “Technically speaking, all the nerves in your spine are stinging your lower back discs, sending excruciating pain into your central nervous system. Are you doing anything new in your life that may be triggering this irritation?”

“I run in the morning,” I said.

“Don’t,” he advised.

Epilogue: Last night, at the All You Can Eat Italian Meat night at the Holiday Inn, I had on my velour yellow and pink running suit, my Flyknits, my Janoskis, and numerous sweat bands, including under my nose. There were several tomato sauce stains on the pants. “Thank God I have underwear on,” I told myself. I thought I did, anyway.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com