Twitter is not the only medium for trending. There are trends in clothing (remember parachute pants?), cars (everyone wanted an SUV), jewelry (friendship bracelets), music (where did R&B go?), hairstyles (mullets, perms), TV shows (reality TV won’t go away), phones (rotary vs. push button), cell phones (they were big, then tiny, now big again), and I’m sure books (I can’t give an example).

There are also trends in sports. Trends in offense, defense, philosophy, recruiting, gear, uniforms, training, warming up, cooling down – the only constant is change. When I was in junior high I had a mullet with sweet feathers, wore as many plastic bracelets as I could on one arm (Madonna did it, I could too), and my uniform shorts were as short as you could possibly imagine. Just those three things required significant pregame procedures: ample amounts of hairspray, proper time management for bracelet removal, and a lot of shaving. Move to high school and my hair was long and curly, requiring a pony tail holder (and hairspray). My mother traveled to far away cities to find the adidas hi-tops I had to have and after games I went to Dairy Queen for a frozen treat. By college I had a pregame ritual of getting my hair braided, I picked out the biggest shorts I could find so they would hang low and not be “short-shorts” and I drank Kaopectate before games to calm my nerves.

I don’t play sports now, but I do run. And running is one of the sports that is supposed to be cheap and easy – if you have shoes and desire, you can play the sport. Running is the only sport I have played that hearing “congratulations, you finished” is as much of a compliment as “congratulations, you won.” There are philosophies (run-walk vs. run), training programs, pre- and post-race rituals (porta-potties and beer). In my experience, the cheap and easy theory is just a theory. Run in a cotton t-shirt with others around and you will hear someone say “cotton is rotten.” Buy new socks before a race and someone will inform you of the idiocy of changing your training routine. Run with music and you will surely be criticized for not being able to run natural or for not having the best earphones. Everyone needs a heart rate monitor; should have a RoadID and all real runners use a GPS enabled watch. Finding an expert on the topics of chub-rub, shot blocks, nipple guards, IT bands, sport bras, and shoe types is as easy as tripping over a crack in the sidewalk.

I’d like to say I’m not obsessed with the trends and that I just go out and run. But I don’t. I want to find what looks good, is somewhat in style, and exactly works for me. I’ve worn the same style of running socks for nine years. I like spandex better than shorts with panties. I almost always wear a hat and I am baffled by the ridiculous sizes of women’s clothing (not everyone is 5-4 and 98 pounds).

I’m at an age where I don’t want people to see above my knees. Finding shorts that aren’t made for men that go to my knees is impossible. I know that cotton t-shirts are heavy, but even an XL women’s technical t-shirt barely comes to my waist. And what defines a technical t-shirt? Is it: A) moisture wicking (extra stinky), B) soft, comfortable and performance enhanced with UV Protection, or C) not cotton?

The same company put on two races I recently did and here was the selling point for each race, based on t-shirts:

  • Technical Gender Specific Event Shirt
  • Technical race shirt

The first race gave me a polyester, no-name brand shirt. It isn’t technical, it is polyester. It’s smooth and shiny (and extremely cheap). The second race gave me a New Balance, v-neck 100% polyester t-shirt. It is women’s so it doesn’t fit, but I suppose the mesh at least means it is technically technical.

All of this is to say that the trend of giving away technical t-shirts, even if they aren’t really technical, is a bad trend. Give me a cotton t-shirt with a race logo design on it. Odds are it will fit and I definitely won’t spend time trying to find a family member that wants a polyester shirt. And if you are reading this and thinking she’s complaining about free stuff, rest assured I pay for the price of a “technical” shirt – whether I truly get one or not – with the price of the race.

I participated in a race recently and there was a price for the race without a shirt and with a shirt. The shirt cost a grand total of $5. I bought six because I liked the logo on them. They fit, they are comfortable and I’ve worn them more than I ever will wear the two race shirts above. Hopefully race directors will soon bring back the cotton t-shirt trend instead of making us pay for cheap, unwearable, undesirable technical t-shirts.