Socks and jellybeans. My two favorite things. If my feet are wrapped in the pelts of Muppets and my belly is full of sour simple sugars then I am a happy girl. Unsurprisingly I have a wide assortment of both but today I’m just going to talk about the socks. I have furry socks, loud socks, knee-highs, thigh-highs (with little bows!), invisible socks, patterned socks, holey socks and lacy ankle socks. But do you know what I do not have? Real athletic socks. I know. The tragedy is unspeakable. Despite owning – I kid you not – 30+ workout tank tops, for some reason I never buy athletic socks. Probably because I can’t get them second hand like I do everything else.
At first I was dubious that “real” athletic socks were anything more than a marketing ploy. After all, feet just sweat whether they are clad in my $10/6 pack of Target cotton ankle socks or in these $50/pair Goretex babies, right? But then the Gym Buddies schooled me good – they got me real Nike athletic socks (with an “L” and an “R” to help me tell my feet apart, even!) for my birthday. Apparently there is an advantage to be had from actual athletic socks made with things like antibacterial silver and wicking fibers and support arches. These new fangled socks come with everything but a SETI program to multitask during your rests.
Runner’s World agrees with the Gym Buddies. According to them, the right socks can prevent blisters, help with plantar fascitis and even help you run faster. But Brian Sell sums it up nicely with his advice: Wear socks. They even offer a “sock guide” with an in-depth analysis of the top 10 best sports socks to help you find the style just right for you. I even got to try out a pair of fancy-schmany Karen Neuberger running socks. These were a nice compromise as they were super comfy, wicking and they only cost $5! They held up much better than my Target whatevers.
At an average $10-$16 a pair for most athletic socks though, I’m still going to take a lot of convincing. I – knock on wood – never get blisters. I don’t have arch or heel pain. And sweaty feet don’t bother me much. Now I don’t want you to think my feet aren’t important to me. I shell out a lot of money for decent athletic shoes. (Confession: I actually own three pairs at any given time – one for running, one for cross training and one for dance.) I’m very brand loyal and I’m easily sucked in with new marketing ploys like “gel support soles” and “shock balance” and “three different flavors swirled in one pint of ice cream.” (Yes I’m talking to you Ben & Jerry’s, you Dairy Siren.) Also, and I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’m a sucker for colors and crazy patterns. My running shoes right now are bright pink with both polka dots and paisley on them (I love you Aasics!) Although I do draw the line at buying two separate pairs of shoes to fit my differently sized feet, curse them.
All of the cash I drop on shoes is kind of ironic considering how little I spend on the rest of my workout apparel. My favorite source of clothing is the thrift store. I’m such a Sweaty Betty that this way I can pit out my tanks and then throw them away after a few months without feeling guilty since they only cost me a buck. Although considering how many I own, I probably ought to be weeding them out more often. (Note to Gym Buddies: please tell me when I stink!) Second to thrift stores, my next best source of clothing are hand-me-downs, mostly because my friends all have much better style than I do. My current favorite pants are a cute lil’ Nike pair with ribbons and ruching at the knees gifted to me by Turbo Jennie. Which, incidentally, you know it says a lot about a friendship when you can share clothing obviously not meant to be worn with underwear.
So I’m cheap on clothes, spendy on shoes and just confused about socks. Help me sort out my priorities! (Any cracks involving the words “Dr. Phil” and/or “intervention” will be ignored.) Is the price tag for expensive gym socks worth it? What kind do you use? What fitness essentials are you willing to spend on and which do you scrimp? Anyone else own way too many tank tops for their own good??