Socks, Drugs and Rock&Roll

Lieutenant Dan had a lot of good advice for Forrest — catch shrimp after a hurricane, make your peace with God, invest in Apple — but one tip in particular stands out:

Take your socks seriously.

Or in the colorful words of Gary Sinise: “There is one item of G.I. gear that can be the difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt. Socks, cushion, sole, O.D. green. Try and keep your feet dry when we’re out humpin’. I want you boys to remember to change your socks wherever we stop.”

As a distance runner pounding away more than 1,000 miles a year, you’d think I’d give some consideration to my socks. I mean, I’ve written multiple posts dedicated to the importance of good running shoes. I buy Asics trainers in bulk when they’re about to upgrade my model. I left an old pair in Hong Kong once to make room in my suitcase and actually held a little farewell ceremony to bid them goodbye. I wish I were joking.

With shoes such a key component of my running routine, you’d think the layer that’s even closer to my feet would be even more important. Well, you’d be wrong.

I’ve never really thought much about socks at all.

My sock drawer is chock full of ankle socks in all shapes and sizes, from the worn-out Target brand 6-pack to the Under Armour “no shows” that my toes always tear through. As long as they are tall enough to cover my heels and still have their mate, I’ll keep socks in rotation forever, meaning some pairs have been on the circuit for, I don’t know, 12 years?

It never seemed like a problem to me. I mean, how can socks go bad? Then I ran the Brooklyn Half this month, and crossed the finish line with a callus so thick I had to spend the better part of the afternoon soaking my sore feet in the bathtub.

This is not as fun as it looks.

This is not as fun as it looks.

A little WebMDing, and I determined ill-fitting socks that had lost their elastic had caused friction against the ball of my foot over 13.1 speedy miles, giving me the callus. I also determined I had lupus, since that’s that kind of thing rampant WebMDing leads to.

With good socks — and my lack thereof — fresh on my mind, it was quite serendipitous to receive an e-mail last week from Stance Socks about the run they were sponsoring tonight in the East Village. Media were invited to try out (and keep post-workout, full disclosure) a pair of Stance running socks on a 2-mile jog around the East Village lead by local punk rock legend and lead singer of the Cro-Mags John Joseph. I don’t know much about the NYC punk scene, but I know I like free socks and meeting other fitness-minded people, so I signed up.

And whew, what a ride. We met at 315 Bowery, once home to famous music club CBGB, then worked our way up to St. Marks, around Tompkins Square Park and up past Webster Hall while Stance snapped photos of our socked experience and John Joseph told so many stories about being stabbed in the 70s and 80s I started to think I was watching Ghost. Wait, was he dead the whole time?

Fact: We were running into the bus lane, so we were probably dead, too.

Fact: We were running into the bus lane, so we were probably dead, too.

So how did the socks live up? To be honest, it’s too early to tell. They survived a 2-mile fun run on a steamy NYC night with no problems, but we’ll see if my new colorful performance socks withstand the pounding and rubbing that 20 weeks of marathon training will bring. They’re a great color though, so I’m optimistic.

Don't we look swell?

Don’t we look swell?

Until then, I’ll be doing my best to follow Lt. Dan’s two standing orders: “One, take good care of your feet. Two, try not to do anything stupid, like gettin’ yourself killed.”

Bubba would have wanted it that way.

How much consideration do you give socks in your daily routine?

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