So you just bought those new top-of-the-line racing flats. They look great, feel even greater, and they just cost you half a month’s salary. Expensive? Who cares? Because after a week of breaking them in, you feel like you could challenge Dean Karnazes to an ultra smackdown! Hey, bring it on Bikila. Usain Bolt, your days are numbered haha!
But a week later, you pass by your favorite running store. Something catches your attention. What are those things on display? What are those bright, shiny, gorgeous, kickass things? Salivate. Drool. They whisper to you: “Come to me baby… Take me home… Bring me home now and I’ll show you all the pleasures of the world…”
It takes all your moral fortitude to grit your teeth, turn away and walk away from the temptation. You seek alternative comfort in a bag of sugary donuts. Gear lust. Who has not been afflicted with it?
I wish I could honestly say: Not me. Kara actually thinks I ought to enroll in Gear Addicts Anonymous. I’m not sure if she’s wrong.
In March this year, I bought a new pair of New Balance 810 runners–even though I had yet to wear out the pair I bought last Christmas. I told myself that since I was participating in the Natgeo Earthday Run, I needed a new pair of shoes… just in case. A few weeks after completing the 21k Natgeo run, I bought a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves… because I wanted to transition into a more natural style of running.
Earlier in the year, I upgraded the bottom bracket for my bike to Shimano Deore, and the rear derailleur changed from Acera to Alivio. I also changed forks from Suntour XCT to the more advanced Epicon. After several weekends of getting my butt hammered while riding the trails of Lamesa, I also decided to switch to a wider saddle that had better cushioning. Now I find myself lusting after 29er bikes which seem to be taking over cross country mountain biking. And let’s not even talk about accessories like jerseys, gloves and shades.
But then again, I don’t think I’m the worst offender.
I’ve heard of runners who buy shoes almost on a monthly basis. How they rationalize this, I have no idea. Maybe there’s some kind of Imelda gene present in all of us, and these people just happen to prefer sneakers to stilettos.
Mountain bikers are the worst. Since bikes are made up of dozens of components, it is not uncommon for bikers to lust after one or two or three new higher-end parts, even though they just bought a new bike. New shocks? New drivetrains? New pedals? A new cycling computer with GPS and HRM functionality… and it can pick up CNN and HBO? Gotta have em. It’s a well documented disease in the biking community called upgraditis.
The only sport I’m into that doesn’t seem to infect me with upgrade addiction is climbing. Here you get one pair of good shoes and a harness, and you’re set. Most of the climbers I know don’t go lusting after new gear. It’s all about upgrading your skills, leveling up your body to overcome that nagging boulder or wall problem. No one really cares about your brand of climbing shoes, as long as you get the job done. It’s a much purer activity in that sense.
I probably should carry the climbing ethos into my running and biking. It’s not about the running shoes and the bike (to paraphrase some famous athlete who made millions riding the most high tech expensive bikes ever made).
Maybe it is really about enjoying the activity itself, and improving yourself in the process.
At least until the gear breaks down and you finally have that much needed legitimate excuse to upgrade.