Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Buff - WTF?!?

We were first introduced to fabric tubes as clothing with the 80’s leg warmer rage. More recently, arm sleeves have taken over the athletic world, so much so that NBA players contesting in indoor climate controlled conditions now wear arm sleeves. Sometimes just on one arm. Oooh, now that’s cool! But even the uni-armed sleeve look is so last year, because athletes  - particularly ultrarunners - have a new fabric tube trend: The Buff.

Sure one sleeve is cool, but if he really wants to be the bomb, he needs a Buff, not a sweatband!

Now back when I was in college, running in the buff meant being naked. Of course, I also thought streaking meant running through the quad without clothes and not some obsessive-compulsive adherence to running at least one mile every day. But I date myself because that was last century. Now a buff refers to an oversized fabric loop, with numerous associated You-tube videos showing the infinite number of genius uses for such a seemingly simple design.

And yet I am left wondering, “Why the hell would ultra-runners want a Buff??” Ok, yes, if you are like some Killian Jornet freak who dances across two mile high mountain peaks where weather can change at any moment and freeze your face off, well, then, yeah, in that case, I get it. But American runners don’t just wear their buffs on high mountain peaks to ward off frost bite; they wear them at races like Way Too Cool and Western States, races you could run in the buff and not be in danger of frostbite! (Nevermind that I was hypothermic at Western States. We all know that was an anomaly and besides, no Buff would have saved me!).

Why have we replaced beanies and the more sensible-sized fleece headbands with some big cloth rag that looks like a turban wrapped around the head?? I don’t get it. But maybe that’s because I have never been a fashionista, especially when it comes to running. I choose my clothes for how they fit and function not how they look. I mean, did you see me at Western States??: A light blue overly worn hat from 2002, a fluorescent green freebie bandana from my kids 100 Mile Club, and a Goodwill cotton T-shirt! At least I had on cute Lululemon shorts, but only because I won them and because Ken Sinclair and Sean Meissner have forbidden me from racing in the shorts I like to call “my dumpy blue shorts.” So, yeah, I really need help when it comes to fashion, but I have watched those You-Tube videos and I still don’t know how I would wear a Buff.

A few years ago, Western States gave out Buffs as part of the schwag. My daugher modeled it as a strapless dress a few times, before I finally used it to wipe up some juice and threw it out. Great uses for my Buff and I didn’t even get them from a video!
Megan rocks a Buff
(Buff-wearers try not to get your fabric tube in a wad, this is all in good April fool’s fun...mostly. :) If you are a Buff die-hard, please feel free to clue me in on what I am missing!)


Hone said...

I love this post. Whenever I see people wearing those things my first thought is that they must have a massive head wound and the buff is helping to stop the bleeding.

ZeFreds said...

I found one in the shwag bag at Javelina few months ago. Had the same thought "WTF!?". And then I remembered a podcast on URP with the female winner of WS2013...she advised stuffing ice in high blood flow area like the neck to cool down more effectively in the heat.
I went running with the buff, and kept stuffing it with ice...worked like a charm!
I admit an old bandana could have worked as well...but there was something practical and efficient in using the buff.
One example of a good impromptu use...
In the end, your advice on that show was really the trick, as I had a major blow up in the heat 6 months prior

Unknown said...

I have short hair that is long enough I need to keep it out of my way, but too short for any other way of doing that, so I wear a buff. In the summer it soaks up the sweat and in the winter it keeps my head and ears warm. It's pretty much the only gear that I refuse to run without. I'm not wearing it as some sort of fashion statement or anything else. It just suits my purposes better than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Or it can simply be used to keep sweat out of your eyes...