As I settle down to write this, I receive an unsolicited text message from a company enquiring whether I have overspent on Black Friday. Do I need some help with my debts? I am also sitting here one day after my first ultra. As ultras go, it was a baby one, but it was enough for me – I’m definitely hobbling today.
Just under a year ago, fueled by a snack-size Double Decker, I ran my first half marathon. I had travelled to Buckinghamshire from over here in North Essex early on Saturday morning and we, my partner and I, had booked a night in a hotel for after the race. We were worried about the long drive home on tired legs.
We arrived well in time for the 8am start. He ran the ultra – 6 times round a 6.5 mile loop; twice round for my beginner legs was plenty.
Off he went on round 3 and I had a few hours to kill. A Strava novice, my phone had died at the end of the race. I also had to charge my car which, as the EV veterans amongst you will know, can be hit and miss in unknown areas. You also need your phone to access the apps that link to the charging points.
Everything was getting a bit wobbly – my legs and my spirits. However, I managed to get my phone to 15% in the community centre and I hobbled to the car. It was then I realised that I had left my overnight bag at home.
I had no change of clothes.
I finally found a compatible car charger (even here there is built in obsolescence and my older Renault Zoe cannot compete with some of the newer charger fittings). I rolled into Gerrards Cross train station with a few miles to spare. Now for some clothes shopping.
I made a decision. I would not buy any new clothes. Whatever I would get, it had to be from a charity shop. I don’t like accumulating stuff and I wear quite similar things on a daily basis. It’s what my brain prefers. The thought of unnecessary, new clothes that were not going to be ‘my thing’ anyway really grated. It was going to be secondhand or nothing.
What I found was a complete treasure trove. I suppose when something is urgent you try a bit harder. I think there is also, paradoxically, abundance to be found within scarcity. I came away with a perfect haul – in particular a beautiful pink and red jumper and a pair of black jeans that actually fitted. I am very small so these are a rare breed at the best of times.
On my return home I did a bit of Googling. The jumper (Lolly’s Laundry) would have cost around £100 new. The jeans (Everlane – actually a really interesting, ethical company) would have been similar. They still had the tag in.
Both items have become stalwarts in my wardrobe. I like them especially as they are constant reminders that the clothes I need are already out there. As I traipse around the aisles of H&M with my three pre-teen and teen daughters (will they get it soon? I really hope so…) I look agog at the racks and racks of clothes that surely end up in the backs of wardrobes, or are worn once then sent to charity shops, or worse, just thrown away.
Last weekend, one year on, we went to Bucks again. This time it was a marathon for James (as a warm up for something longer next week) and the sidelines for me. I was tapering for the ultra yesterday. It was actually Black Friday when we got ready the night before. The promotional emails started pouring in and I ignored them.
I deliberately decided to wear the jumper and the jeans. It was my own personal act of resistance over Black Friday. Both items are still going strong – of course they are. Clothes last if you look after them, and you don’t need half the items you think you do.
Ping. There goes a reminder in my inbox telling me I haven’t used my Black Friday discount code yet for another company that I don’t need anything from.
And no. I don’t have any debts from Black Friday. I think I have found a solution to the whole mad affair. Switch off and run for the hills.
Rebecca Leek is a Green Runner into permaculture, writing, working with schools and is in the process of moving off grid. Website: rebeccaleek.com, Twitter: @RebeccaLeek_ Instagram: @rebecca_leek_