I have been on a gear-buying spree. This is partly because recent streamlining has left me feeling flush (at least until my health insurance company refused to pay a routine medical bill for no apparent reason and I now owe the doctor $310, which is entirely ridiculous and unfair and I am going to call them tomorrow, but it is entirely possible there is nothing I can do about it because the last time such a mistake was made by the human resources people, who get paid more than I do for the task of keeping everyone's insurance up to date and still cannot seem to do it, I ended up footing the bill because by the time the medical people sent me the bill the insurance company's statute of limitation had expired, which has likely happened here because the medical appointment in question took place in August) ... anyway, I was feeling a bit flush, and also I hadn't bought any gear in a fairly long time, and there is the half-marathon to prepare for.
The first thing I bought was clippy shoes, which I have already told you about. Then, I got new running shoes. My old shoes are starting to wear out; i can definitely feel at the end of a run that they're not really supporting me. It seems inadvisable to start a training program on bad shoes and with no backups, so I had my gentleman caller take me to Jackrabbit. This is a very fancy place where you are not allowed to shop for shoes on your own; you wait in line until a shoe-fitter is ready for you (all the shoe-fitters are about 22, very bored, and not as athletic- or wholesome-looking as you might expect running-store employees to be) and then he records your stride on a little video camera stationed behind a treadmill and shows you how fat your calves are from behind, and also how unhealthy your stride is. Then he brings you some expensive shoes and you try them on, and maybe he videos you again and tells you that the shoes have fixed your stride. But, I think it was worth it, because I did notice a difference in the before and after videos, and the problems the shoe-fitter said I might have because of my stride are problems I have actually had and now maybe I won't, and also I learned how to keep my stigmata from coming back (bigger shoes), and I have fancy, pretty blue shoe running sneakers.
Finally, I have gotten shirts to wear to the gym. This was a hard thing to actually buy, both because it has been difficult to find shirts that meet my specifications, and because I haven't been entirely convinced that I need them. After all, I have shirts that I wear to the gym. They are old and disgusting and have managed to both shrink and stretch, so that they are shapeless and unflattering and too-small in places, but they are not actually indecent. And shirts are not like shoes; getting better ones won't make me stronger or faster.
But it will make me happier. I don't work out in a vacuum, or alone in my apartment. I work out in a gym full of other people, and also flourescent lights and mirrors. Wearing clothes that are both ugly in themselves and unappealing on me does not enhance my workout. I can't think of a time I've been aware of worse performance or wimping out because of my clothes, but I'm sure the psychological effect of my yucky clothing doesn't help anything. Seeing myself in my ugly exercise clothes (my workout pants are also not the greatest things, even though they are fairly new, because it is hard enough to find pants that meet all my fit and function criteria without worrying about style, and since both my old pants managed to wear out at the same time I wasn't in a position to be choosy, but I will replace or supplement them when i find something really good, and they are black and not cropped - I do not wear cropped pants because of the aforementioned fat calves - so it isn't an emergency) on a daily basis cannot possibly be contributing to my fitness or happiness. When my new clothes come I will have more variety and can get rid of the most offending of my current exercise wardrobe, and it will be fun to have pink and green wicky shirts to wear on my long runs.
Next, if it turns out I am not owing anyone $310 and when I get around to it, I would kind of like a heart-rate monitor. The ones at the gym don't seem to work reliably; they tell me my heart rate is 70 when I'm working hard on the elliptical, and on the treadmill they don't work at all when you're at a running pace (by design). It seems like something I might use intermittently for a very long time.