Running Barefoot, Dehydrated, and Naked. Or Not.

I run with my iPhone. In an armband. With earphones. In Djibouti this makes me feel excessively wealthy.

running naked, barefoot, dehydrated

The armband Velcro melted off months ago so I twist it all around itself to keep it on. The earphones are missing the cushiony part on one side and only one earplug actually works. In Minnesota this might be thought of as suffering and when my ears start to burn and tingle and I can’t hear both sides of the music and the armband flaps off during intervals, I would lean toward agreeing. Or, if not suffering, at least it’s a frustration. Though, apparently, the two are less and less distinguishable among the middle class, the privileged poor.

I wear a Hydration Belt packed full with four bottles of water I freeze overnight and GU (vanilla flavored is the mildest, most palatable) and Chapstick and enough change for a taxi or a phone call or another bottle of water. In Djibouti this means I drink more water while running than some people drink in a day. I have more money in my running belt than some earn in a day.

The zippers rusted out on the pack so none of the pockets close. The Velcro salted over (thank you sweaty runs) and I have to continually retighten it to keep from losing the belt. I have to carry ice blocks because of the heat. In Minnesota this would be considered unreasonable. And I totally agree. Blocks of ice, flying sweat beads, rusty zippers. Argh.

I alternate between Asicsand Saucony shoes. I wear running pants and shirts and sports bras and socks that, even though I bought them on clearance and keep them until they literally fall apart, mean I spend more on my running clothes than most of the people I run by in the early mornings will spend on clothing for the year.

I struggle with this. Here I come, burning calories because I have more than enough to eat. Here I come, with the leisure time to spend running. Here I come, wearing my rich clothes. Here I come, with my fancy gadgets.

Am I not supopsed to run until everyone, everywhere, has the time, money, and energy to run? I don’t think that’s the right way to go. But still, running is an example of my privilege and wealth and sometimes I feel like I’m rubbing it in while I’m melting down on the streets.

What should I do? I can try to make wise choices about my clothes and shoes and gadgets. I can make them last as long as possible and can not be pressured to buy the latest model or fashion when there is nothing (drastically) wrong with the one I have. I can give my water bottle, still half-full, to the boy begging, when I realize I won’t need it all today.

I don’t plan on quitting running. I don’t plan on running barefoot (tried) or without water (tried) or naked (never tried). But I do think about the people I run by and pray for them. I smile at the kids and slap their hands, high-five style. I greet the older women, macooyo, grandmother. I cheer on the few other runners. I helped start the first ever girls running club in Djibouti. These things seem so trivial, so insignificant.

I recognize the privilege it is to be able to run.

Is that enough? Are those the right things? Do you run in a developing country? How do you respond to these issues?