If there are any beginners reading this thinking they wouldn’t mind sticking on a pair of trainers and having a go at this running shenanigans; I feel there are some things you should know about this sport before it gets you hooked. The absolute truth is running is an extreme sport, and to do what we do you need to be hardcore.
Disgusting Bodily Functions – I’m going to do this in one section so you can skip it if you so desire.
‘Runners Diarrhoea’ or ‘Pulling a Paula Radcliffe’
As you achieve longer distances you will find yourself at risk of getting diarrhoea whilst running. For some people its certain foods that set them off or hitting the glucose too hard, however I find taking an imodium sorts it out. Still you’ve got to feel sorry for a runner with that infamous brown streak down the back of their leg, even if you are downwind.
While we’re on the subject of disgusting bodily functions and running, I once went out on a long run with my running partner after one of those thick icecream milkshakes. Both of us were leaning over a brick wall vomiting into a supermarket car park within the first six miles. Safe to say I stay away from high fat high protein foods before my long runs now.
Peeing in Public
There’s also the quandary of what you do when you’re running 20 miles on a urban route with no toilet in sight. As of yet I’ve always found a ‘private’ place with which to conduct my business, as I never have had the guts to use a she-wee. I did get given a free one at the London Marathon but due to a combination of dehydration and porta-loos it wasn’t needed.
This is actually proper running etiquette and it’s not pretty, but getting a bit of a runny nose can be an annoyance, particularly in hay-fever season. APPARENTLY the best way to get rid of said greenies is to close your mouth, plug one nostril and blow as hard as possible so it flies out. I’ve seen these snot rockets literally TAKE PEOPLE OUT. I’ve never managed to get this right and just end up with snot all over my face, so I take a tissue.
Weird and Wonderful Tan Lines.
As a runner you will be subject to weird and wonderful tan lines. My current collection includes the normal sock line, a white band three quarters up my arm where my strap for my phone sits, and since all my running bottoms are ¾ length I’m white from the knee upwards. I’ve pretty much got these all summer, however because I’m outside more than my non running friends, at least my tan is natural.
All You Need Is A Pair of Trainers – YEAH RIGHT
To start running, that’s true all you need is a pair of trainers, but you soon end up with more equipment than you know what to do with. (Good trainers mind you, I started running in tennis shoes and had feet issues pretty quickly). I’ll give you an example, so you’ve gone out and bought your first set of running trainers and started jogging.
…….but then you want to know how far/how fast you are going. This can be anything from a free phone app to a Garmin.
…….but then you realise your baggy old t-shirt and trackies are chaffing, plus they are cotton so not only are they really sweaty, but once you get rained on they take ages to dry. You buy some proper running clothes.
………..but then you realise you’re sick of carrying your water bottle, phone etc and since you’re going further you need something to carry your fuel in its time for a hydration belt/small bag.
…….but then you get sick of getting drenched on runs, so you buy wet weather gear
……but since you’ve decided to run a trail race/increase your mileage/have your gait measured so you need another pair of trainers.
……..but then it snows for two weeks so you buy some spikes for your trainers
………the clocks go back and it gets dark at 3 o’clock so you buy a headtorch.
I could add so many more things to this list, can you see how it escalates? I did, just barely manage to get through last winter without the spikes and the headtorch, but to be honest I can see myself caving in this year. I held out because of principle and I didn’t want to be ‘that’ runner. But I’m starting to think its inevitable.
The Ultimate Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Running changes the way you think. Its the ultimate cognitive behavioural therapy.
I don’t know if its the determination to keep moving your legs forward when it would be easier to stop, or that sheer effort to force yourself out the door on days where you can see your own breath. A willingness to work hard to meet goals, to finish and to achieve. I promise you that attitude soon finds its way into your everyday life, your work, your relationships. Lets face it, have you ever met a flakey runner?
Make New Friends or You’ll Lose Your Old Ones!
I’ve been out and for the first time ever I’ve run an 11 minute mile (properly, not downhill) and I’m so pumped up that all I want to do is go round bragging about it for the next two days. I’ve a big grin on my face and feel like I’m going to burst I’m so proud.
There is however a slight problem, nobody cares. Non runner friends find these rants as irritating as a PPI cold call. Think about it, if one of them spent more than two minutes talking about Eastenders, you’d soon develop the urge to slap them until they stopped. So it becomes US, and THEM. Those that run, and those that can’t.
The way I deal with this is to make contact with runners via forums and social media so I can discuss these things without fear of reprisal. Otherwise I have no doubt my normal friends would soon get sick of me.
We have a unwritten rule, unless I am doing anything major like a marathon its best I keep it to myself. I am allowed to give advice but only when I am asked.
My discussions with other runners are a no holds barred running orgasm. Because I’m currently single I’m seriously considering joining a running club just to find a long term partner as I’m not sure a non-runner boyfriend is ever going to put up with me on a long term basis.
Okay, the first week to a month is pretty bad I’m not going to lie. However I can’t imagine smokers like their first cigarette much either, they stick with it until the nicotine buzz takes them. Running is a lot like that. By the time you’ve got through that first month you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it. Gradually it’ll take over your life until you become one of those smug annoying perky athletes on the street you always hated and envied. Welcome to the club.
Stupid Running Moments
At the end of a long run not only are your glucose levels low, but the blood is directed to your legs rather than your brain. It can affect your co-ordination, judgement and memory.
Over the course of my running career I have hit myself in the face with my own water bottle
Tried to use my keys to get into the next door neighbours (to be fair their back gate is the same colour as mine)
Gone to the wrong cupboard for a glass
Temporarily forgotten the code to unlock my phone
Stepped out in front of traffic
and many many more…………
again this is not nearly as bad now my fitness has improved.
Shivers & Twitches
In my early training schedule I discovered a strange phenomenon. When I came in from a run, no matter how hot my shower was, how many blankets I snuggled under I could not get warm. This would last for hours. Thankfully as my fitness has improved this has disappeared. I do still get muscle twitches in my legs when I’m at rest after running. Neither are anything to worry about, just weird.
Be prepared to have running epiphanies. These are moments of clarity in your runs where all of a sudden the answer to a problem is revealed to you. Sometimes they are moments of greater understanding or simply working out what you want from life. It’s amazing what happens when you are relaxed and your mind is allowed to wander. Be prepared for the after effects as these can sometimes turn your life upside down, for example one of mine caused me to change careers and move to another part of the country.
If you like wearing nice open toes shoes, having immaculate nail varnish and regular pedicures this may not be the sport for you. Running permanently ruins your feet. Everyone assumes you will have a blister or two, maybe a callous and a bit of hard skin. What they don’t tell you is during a marathon your feet get so battered that your toe nails often turn black, and sometimes fall off! I’ve had blisters UNDERNEATH my toe nails. It took me three days to put a pair of shoes on after the London Marathon. I haven’t worn a sandal since because they are still not a pretty sight.
The picture is of my leg after my first marathon. The first aiders strapped a cold pack to my leg and it burst causing chaffing, underneath I had welts the size of golf balls.