THE MINIMALIST MOVEMENT IN RUNNING APPARENTLY IS SPREADING BEYOND athletic shoe design and is borrowing from the de-cluttering trend.
In the world of lifestyle organization, Japanese organizing consultant, author, and star of the Netflix show Marie Kondo has inspired many across the globe to “Tidy up” their lives. Not having read her book or viewed the program, I cannot knowledgeably comment on what Kondo preaches. However, much of my cleaning work at home the past few years seems to involve freeing up spaces for purposes that do not include storage of stuff that’s rarely used. I definitely ‘get‘ the movement, but have yet to operationalize it to include athletic gear.
The article “8 Lessons Our Editor Learned from the Decluttering Bible” in a onekingslane.com blog offers another perspective on the popular trend. The “lessons” included Kondo-inspired admonitions (“tackle categories rather than rooms”; “respect your belongings”, “fold don’t hang”), a warning (“nostalgia isn’t your friend”), encouragement (purging will “feel so good”; you will “rediscover your style”), and instruction (how to accomplish “the fold”).
This short take on a bigger topic was a fast read. Surely it would have been better to go to the original source, but the ‘hack’ version was a way to ease into the movement.
Because each of the eight lessons is fully described in the article, the advice was practical as well as inspiring. Yet it did not motivate me to “tackle” anything. Even with the best intentions, I knew, a project could backfire. When time ran out at the end of a weekend blitz my home could be left a big mess rather than a serene de-cluttered oasis.
Then I discovered the manageable category I wanted to tackle in an article by Tom Vanderbilt “Why You Should Get Rid of Most of Your Gear” published on outsideonline.com. It re-energized my desire to participate in the tidy-up movement.
The author’s message that fitness work could be achieved with less gear was one I wanted to believe. That the scale of a de-cluttering task might be confined only to sport and exercise wear seemed ideal. Possibly, I mused, it was a Kondo-style project that could be finished in just one day rather than a weekend, and not destined to be abandoned mid-process on Monday morning.
Buying less, storing less, and maintaining fewer pieces of new and improved exercise clothing was appealing.
Vanderbilt’s view on the minimalism trend is that newer Merino wool fabric is enabling recreational athletes to get more out of fewer pieces of sport apparel, allowing us to buy, store, and maintain less. Merino wool manufacturers have generated a more comfortable, durable, and sport- and eco-friendly material that allows repeated wear without intervening laundering related to its moisture-managing, breathable, bacteria-resisting, and odor-fighting qualities. Yet this wool can withstand the rigors of multiple washes, the author explains.
Vanderbilt begins his article by telling the story of Mac Bishop, the 29-year old entrepreneur and minimalist muse who agreed to supervise a reduction in the older man’s gear-closet. Bishop’s family background (they’ve owned Pendleton Wool Mills since 1863) seems to have significantly influenced his attitude toward clothes, particularly wool clothes.
When Bishop, a newly minted business school graduate, encountered workday wardrobe frustrations he challenged himself to wear one Pendleton wool shirt for 100 days without washing or ironing it. Then he sought on the street feedback about the practice with the idea of starting a company. The answers guided Bishop’s next steps to establish a start-up business, Wool and Prince, and sell long-wearing wool garments.
Vanderbilt’s telling of Bishop’s story is entertaining and informative, and potentially motivating to other readers like me, looking to pare down in a fashionable, updated, and environmentally friendly manner. Vanderbilt goes on to describe the path he personally followed to achieve wardrobe simplicity and sparseness, making a good case for doing this with both sports-gear and everyday-apparel. His article did not discuss clothes organization, however.
The thought occurred to me to combine the ideology of sports-gear minimalism with the practicality of the tidy-up movement. To, create a mash-up of the outsideonline.com and onekingslane.com information to achieve wardrobe reduction + closet organization that would last longer than a few weeks.
I had made numerous previous attempts at similar tasks before the term “minimalism” was in common usage, and before Kondo became a guru, but the moment of neatness at each project’s completion didn’t ‘take’. Eventually chaos returned. Like with following fad diets that were too restrictive and led to yo-yo weight loss/gain, I have not been able to maintain high-energy organizational practices and have never experienced a sustained spiritual state of closet order.
After tossing about half of the old gear I had held onto for years (reduction phase), I gave the Kondo-style FOLD process a try on the remaining apparel pieces (organizational phase).
To make a long story short, it worked!!! The folding method made specific tee-tops and bottoms readily searchable in the drawer, because they are folded with the identifying markings facing up and showing. Individual items are easy to remove for wear and to return after being worn or freshly laundered, without disturbing the rest of the drawer. Out of season apparel can be moved to the back of the drawer as the weather changes.
I have started storing clothing I have worn at least once, but which needn’t yet be laundered per Mac Bishop’s message and example, on the right side of the drawer. I’m considering using a piece of cardboard to separate ‘clean ‘from ‘not-clean’ clothes but haven’t tried it yet. The number of items is small enough, after the minimalism-driven clean-out phase, that this detail is easy to remember.
Now I am ready to shop for a few pieces of summer-weight wool athletic apparel!
Consider checking out these two articles or others that address the movements in greater depth to find personal athletic gear-closet joy and freedom.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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