What Runners Don’t Tell You…

It’s funny because it’s true.  Although I must admit, I don’t have a black toenail yet.  I do, however, sport two blood blisters and multiple callouses.  Pretty feet are simply not part of being a runner.  I mourned the loss of several hard-earned callouses two weeks ago when I went for what I thought was an innocent pedicure.  No one had warned me otherwise; I felt I deserved a treat for all the hard work I’ve been putting in.  It was dumb.  When I returned from my 16+ mile run the following day, I had enormous and incredibly painful blood blisters that frightened my children and sent them backing out of the room, away from me and my hideous feet, looks of disgust on their precious little faces.  Lesson #1: love your nasty feet.  Do not attempt to beautify them.  Focus instead on your lovely legs.  Lesson #1.5: invest in good socks.  $12.99 may seem pricey at first, but it becomes a hell of a lot cheaper when you’re trying to wedge your sore feet into any shoes other than slippers.

Good socks and better bandaids.  And they always look good in running shoes.

Lesson #2:  If you run any serious distances, you’re gonna have the urge do make a number two.  It is not a pleasant topic nor one to brag about.  (“You won’t believe the BM I had when I finished my run! Incredible!”)  I suppose this is why nobody warned me…but I discovered it on my own last summer while training for my half.  And discovered it again while running the half and being forced into portapotties after other runners experiencing the same awful smelling issues.  My suggestion?  No fruits or veggies before a long run, and try to “drop the kids at school” before you leave the house.  That may get you down to just gas.  (Further advice: always try to be first.  Not just to win, but because it places you out of the cropdusting danger zone.)  I sometimes imagine being propelled forward by these “power bursts” and often forget that though I cannot hear them due to my headphones, anyone I happen to pass will jerk their head in my direction.  So now I wait for the lonely backroads before I set myself free.

Lesson #3:  Gu, while effective, tastes like crap and feels like insect guts inching down your throat.  Think back to your first shots, chugging ’em back as quickly as possible and trying desperately not to puke in your mouth.  This is similar.  I gag every time, but I know I need easy fuel on those long runs.  So I stock up on what I deem the most unoffensive flavors and choke it back every 30 to 45 minutes.  My body thanks me nearly instantly upon finishing its initial revolt.

Lesson #4:  Slather yourself in BodyGlide.  I used to think myself quite special because I didn’t chafe.  Turns out I just need to run farther.  Now I’m a chafin’ fool.  So I got my first stick of Body Glide and have become a faithful user, applying wherever my skin touches clothing or other skin or armbands for my ipod.  I estimate I’ll need another stick by the end of next week.  Chafe me once, shame on…my lack of chafing before.  Chafe me twice…Well, it’s not gonna happen twice.  So there.

Lesson #5:  Always have frozen peas on hand.  They are excellent for icing sore knees upon finishing a distance run.  And it’s economical and nutritious, too.  I bet you can’t say that about any other ice packs.

Lesson #6:  Stretch mid-run.  I like to pause each hour and do a quick stretch while gagging on my Gu.  My legs thank me and I feel entirely refreshed when I start back up.  Stretch again for a longer time when you get home.  It’s good for you and it feels delicious, too.  I call it my “poor girl’s massage.”  Plus, it gives me at least an extra ten minutes to excuse myself from tattling children and battles of who can do more and better math problems (no, seriously.  This happens.).

Lesson #7:  Rest before and after extra long runs.  I typically give myself one to two days beforehand and have watched my performance vastly improve.  The day after is also a rest day, but one involving as much non-workout movement as I can fit in.  Catch with the monkeys, a slow stroll, maybe another stretching session.  Just so the knees and muscles and hips and mind don’t get all “We don’t need no stinkin’ workout” on me.  Sometimes you gotta remind those little whiners who’s boss and that one day of hard work does not necessitate any lazing about.

Lesson #8:  If you’re training for a half or a full marathon, you’re gonna have to start blocking out some serious time.  Schedule in advance and be prepared to run in weather that doesn’t involve sunlight or warmth.  Relish in being that batshit crazy person running in snow and rain or chugging along just as the sun wakes up.  Accept that sometimes life will get in the way and shorten your training sessions whether you pitch a fit about it or not (apparently, the universe does not care when I pout and make sarcastic comments).  The best way I’ve found to ensure I get my time in?  Schedule it the way I do anything else.  I will be busy at this time and Hubby must be present at home to prevent bloody battle wounds or playing with matches/running with scissors/etc.  Sometimes that requires asscrack of dawn pockets of time.  Deal with it.  If it’s important, you’ll find a way.  If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.

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