UP YOUR SOCK GAME!

WHY THE MA­TE­RIAL MAT­TERS

Runner's World South Africa - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW DAW­SON

ONE OF MY SOCKS is in­side out. No, this is not a mis­take.

I al­ways slip my socks on last when I dress in the morn­ing. And not be­cause they’re the least im­por­tant part of my en­sem­ble; it’s ac­tu­ally quite the op­po­site. I grab a fresh pair, pull the first one on in­side out, then put the other sock on right-side out. It’s a quirk I picked up as a kid while play­ing soc­cer. Just be­fore a match, I no­ticed one of my socks was on in­side out, but it was too late to fix it. So I hit the pitch any­way, and sure enough, I scored, and we won the game.

I’m not a very su­per­sti­tious per­son, but in the back of my mind, that in­side-out sock was the key to good for­tune for my youth­ful as­pi­ra­tions of fu­ture soc­cer glory. That never panned out; but as I got older, life got harder, and it seemed I needed more luck to get by. Thus, my habit of wear­ing an in­side-out sock was born. For school, work, ath­let­ics, and for­mal oc­ca­sions, I slip into a flipped sock and let lady luck lead the way.

Re­ac­tions to my lit­tle quirk are mixed. Some pun­dits may say that it’s not luck if I al­ways wear my socks this way, and they may be right. But most peo­ple just ask why I do it, then fol­low with a look of con­fu­sion,

some laugh­ter, and some­times ridicule.

I get that peo­ple don’t un­der­stand it. Hell, I don’t re­ally un­der­stand it. I wouldn’t die if I didn’t do it. It doesn’t pro­tect me from my fears of a zombie apocalypse or roller coast­ers. It just makes sense to me. My flipped socks are like a se­cret weapon for sur­viv­ing life’s tribu­la­tions. From my first kiss to that time I vom­ited seven times dur­ing a marathon and still fin­ished, I get a con­fi­dence boost from know­ing I have my socks on just the way I like them. Out­side of sport, it gives me that feel­ing of readi­ness to take on the day. It’s as if this small act of re­bel­lion gives me a lit­tle bit of con­trol, when there’s so lit­tle in life we ac­tu­ally have the power to con­trol.

Thanks to years of learn­ing how to mas­ter my own sock game, I’ve learned a lot about the ac­ces­sory that many run­ners write off as a mere af­ter­thought. Of course, the shoe reigns supreme, but that layer be­tween the shoe and your foot is an im­por­tant part of ev­ery good run. Here’s how to keep your feet happy and turn your own sock game in­side out.

The Ma­te­rial Mat­ters

We know you have a ratty old pair of white cot­ton socks at home. This clas­sic is a cheap sta­ple in most sock draw­ers, but it can­not – I re­peat, can­not – go with you on your run.

Cot­ton, though comfy for ev­ery­day ca­sual wear, is not built for per­for­mance. The ma­te­rial doesn’t wick away mois­ture, ef­fec­tively leav­ing your feet in a pud­dle of sweat, which can cause blis­ters, cal­luses, chaf­ing, and hot spots.

That’s why the best run­ning socks do not con­tain the word ‘cot­ton’. Look for syn­thet­ics: ny­lon, polyester, Ly­cra, span­dex, com­pres­sion, and other non-cot­ton words. These ma­te­ri­als keep your feet drier be­cause they’re hy­dropho­bic. No, this doesn’t mean your socks are afraid of wa­ter; it’s just a fancy way of say­ing that they pull mois­ture away from the skin.

Syn­thet­ics aren’t the only words to look for. You’ll also see wool, co­conut, bam­boo, and other nat­u­ral, still-not­cot­ton terms listed on la­bels. These or­ganic ma­te­ri­als also of­fer var­i­ous ben­e­fits. Bam­boo, for in­stance, is breath­able and feels like silk or cash­mere. It also boasts an­timi­cro­bial prop­er­ties, mean­ing you’ll no longer be plagued by foul-smelling feet.

The bot­tom line here is that your feet de­serve bet­ter than a stan­dard cot­ton sock. You al­ready in­vest in qual­ity run­ning shoes; it’s time to in­vest in qual­ity socks, too.

You Do You

Be­cause socks are an easy and in­ex­pen­sive way to show off your unique run­ning per­son­al­ity, they’ve ex­ploded in pop­u­lar­ity over the past few years. Now, you can choose from a wide va­ri­ety of colours, heights, ma­te­ri­als, and styles. Do you want nat­u­ral fi­bres? Com­pres­sion? Light weight? No-show? Maybe some­thing thicker for ex­tra cush­ion­ing? Do you like those freaky-look­ing ones with the in­di­vid­ual toes? That’s en­tirely up to you. Per­son­ally, I don’t like to shell out a ton for socks. An af­ford­able six-pack can with­stand many kilo­me­tres be­fore my sig­nif­i­cant other throws them away.

Maybe you want a flash of colour so your socks get dou­ble takes at races. I’m the same way. With so many fea­tures to choose from, you’d think it’d be hard to find the best socks for you, but that’s the past. More op­tions mean the greater like­li­hood of find­ing the pair for you. You want bam­boo ma­te­rial with pan­das on it? There’s a sock like that.

The key here is com­fort. And com­fort varies for each run­ner. I can’t tell you ex­actly what will feel best for you, but I can tell you I like a polyester blend be­cause it’s smooth and hugs my foot just right. The good news is socks aren’t that ex­pen­sive, so you won’t break the bank try­ing out a few pairs. See what works for your run­ning, but for good­ness sake, don’t you dare run in cot­ton socks. Not even in­side out.

...I’VE LEARNED A LOT ABOUT THE AC­CES­SORY THAT MANY RUN­NERS WRITE OFF AS A MERE AF­TER­THOUGHT.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.