I can close my eyes and recall the sound with great clarity. It is mighty, fierce, heroic. This sound resonates from the soul with power – more power actually. He grunts with a bellowing vigor and I laugh. I love his masculine heart. He is Tim Taylor, the host of “Tool Time” and the star of Home Improvement (1991-1999). As a young boy awkwardly lurching towards adolescence, I was drawn to the tool man and his tendency to take his tools and tweak stuff with a single thought in mind. “More power!”
Though Tim’s antics produced many grins and guffaws from me as a young lad, I now look back upon the show in awe at the number of times he disregarded the sage counsel of his friend Al and instead went his own way. This was usually the way of pain, along with the corresponding bandages, bruises, and scars. This sounds like running to me, at least to some extent. Trail running for sure. One of my favorite trail shirts has this inscription etched across the front: “Give Blood. Run Trails.” I’ve had many stumbles along many trails over the years, but I finally went down completely at a group trail run early last year. In spite of what Jon Bon Jovi would have you believe, this fall wasn’t in a blaze of glory either; no, it was plain ugly.
What I love most about “Tool Time” is just that – the tools. Tim’s home garage is a grand showcase of his collection, and this robust assembly of gear reminds me of one his more poignant (and quotable) lines. “With the right tool, you can fix anything.” I have found this truth to be valid for distance running too. The right tool will play a major role in the fixing of a battered, sore body.
Like Tim’s garage, every runner needs to be outfitted with the right tools for more enjoyable runs and a lower risk of injury. The first tool in the toolbox covers both feet: the right shoe. And by right I’m referring to a comprehensive fitting with an expert at a specialty running store. Tim favored tools by Binford, but I have no such affinity for one brand. I run in Adidas, Saucony, Nike, Brooks, Asics, Altra, and others. Comfort is what matters most. Comfort is paramount.
In the first season of Home Improvement, Tim decides to take his “More power!” mantra to the home entertainment system in the living room. As the process unfolds, Tim’s youngest son Mark finds a set of instructions inside a box off to the side. He brings them over to his dad for some sound wisdom on why they are being neglected during the installation. Tim’s response is classic, and it continues to be my favorite line from the series. “Real men don’t use instructions son.” Actually – we do. And they should be intently followed.
Are there instructions for running? Is there a manual that can aid new and experienced runners alike? When I started running, I didn’t have a manual or field guide. With time, however, I did discover that running longer distances requires preparation, and races require a plan for finishing well. Plans are the instructions, which should also occupy a place in the toolbox. Other gear of note in my toolbox includes socks, a foam roller, Body Glide, a Road ID bracelet, a GPS watch, compression sleeves and socks, a durable water bottle, and many shorts.
Like any compelling television show, I was saddened to see Home Improvement depart from the airwaves in 1999. And yet syndication, that magical word of rebirth, keeps the tool man on the air to be watched again and again. Tim Allen, through the character of Tim Taylor, showed me that tools fix stuff that is in disarray. I still have much to learn as a handyman, but my running toolbox is well stocked and ready for all conditions. I’m ready and I’m prepared. And I’ll grunt with gusto at the thought of that.