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Vassos Alexander, sports reporter for The Guardian, explains why ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’
Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:
gear/kit: the clothes and tools you use to do a sport
tights: thin leggings
to fall for sth: to fall in love with sth
cheerfully: in a happy mood
jog: a gentle run
tracksuit: sweater and trousers for running
sweatband: elastic wristbands to absorb sweat
to creep: to move slowly without being noticed
gadgetry: technological items
lurid: too bright and colourful
Cycling, fishing, golf… certain sports come with a love of equipment as standard. But running is meant to be simpler, isn’t it? The purest form of exercise. Just lace up your trainers and get out there. When Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens, he probably wasn’t wearing compression tights.
I only started running because I was putting on weight in my mid-30s. I failed to reach the end of the street on my first-ever run – I set off too fast, paused to breathe, and ended up walking back home. But then I fell for it hard. I soon realised running was doing much more for me than just keeping the weight off. It gave me space – mental, emotional and physical. If I wanted to solve a problem, I’d go for a run. If I was feeling tired, anxious, lethargic, I’d go for a run. The benefits were making themselves felt in every part of my life. I was soon doing it every day, often twice.
Within a few years, I was cheerfully signing up for ultra- marathons and triathlons (I once attempted one of each on the same weekend). I discovered I was living in a golden age of the runner. Back in the 80s, when people went out for a jog, all you needed was a tracksuit – accessorised, perhaps, with a headband and matching sweatbands. The only piece of tech you required was a Walkman to keep you moving to the beat of “Eye of the Tiger”. But now that “jogging” had transformed into the more serious pursuit of “running”, there was endless kit to be had. The tech crept into my life in increments. It started with the search for the perfect pair of trainers. Then came the base layers – top and tights – that promised to be “injury-reducing, temperature-controlling and moisture-managing”. Next, socks. Most weeks I’d emerge from a running shop armed with another must-have accessory. My growing collection of running-related paraphernalia was fast becoming obscene.
You’d think all this gadgetry would be making my runs more enjoyable. But instead they were becoming more stressful. Dressed in my lurid gear, I’d stand in the middle of the road waiting for my watch to find a satellite signal. Even during a supposedly easy run, I’d check it every few minutes to discover how fast I was going.
Eventually, I concluded that the watch and the gear were keeping me away from the simplicity and beauty of running. They had to go. I threw them into my rucksack and took them to a local charity shop.
A sports psychologist once shared with me the wisdom of Leonardo da Vinci: “Simplicity,” he told me. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
“Let’s chat about that!”
Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂
Give reasons for your answers.
- Look at the text again and find 5 adjectives that describe feelings
- Do you consider yourself a runner?
- What items do you think are necessary for a runner?
- Do you like to buy gadgets and technologically advanced gear for sports?
- What are some reasons people choose to run?
- Are there any disadvantages to running?
- Do you agree with the Leonardo da Vinci quote at the end? Why (not)?
Adapted from: The Guardian