UP YOUR SOCK GAME!
WHY THE MATERIAL MATTERS
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.