What’s the deal with running?

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Runners….yeah, we ARE different, as the ads proudly state.

After exploring the quirks of swimming and cycling in honor of my recent triathlon training, I’m turning the mirror on myself and my swift-footed cohorts to examine some of the peculiarities of the third and final discipline, such as…

What’s the deal with the preoccupation with bodily functions?

Here’s a little running math for you: Whether it’s color and frequency of “number one” — or consistency and urgency (!) of “number two,” the telling of too much information goes up exponentially as either A) the number of runners or B) the length of any run increases.

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What’s the deal with the gross side effects?

I’ve seen plenty of pictures and run across the occasional telltale red dots on male runners’ shirts at longer endurance events, but it wasn’t until my 30K at Lake Chabot this past winter that I came face-to-face with the worst case of bloody nipples I’ve ever seen. My girlfriends and I had to hold back shudders as we watched a gentleman cross the finish line with red literally streaming all the way down to the hem of his shirt.

Another lovely unintended consequence of pounding the pavement? The dreaded black toenail — aka it’s-only-a-matter-of-time-’til-it-falls-off syndrome. I’ve been fortunate up until this point (knock wood), but it’s only a matter of time — or a combination of lengthy descents and ill-fitting shoes — until this happens to most of us.

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What’s the deal with snot rockets and spitting?

Not only does a good run get our competitive juices flowing, but it also gets our bodily fluids going, as well. I envy the runner who can launch perfectly-formed pockets of spittle or blow a spray of snot with sniper-like accuracy. Whenever I’ve attempted to do so, I end up with a face full of spit — or worse.

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What’s the deal with race-day rituals and superstitions?

Whether it’s a special pre-race dinner, a lucky piece of clothing, a favorite pair of shoes, a particular way to tie shoelaces — or, like me, putting the left shoe on first — running tends to bring out the quirks, rituals and obsessions in every one of us.

The oddest part? We can tell you what it is, but we often can’t tell you why we do it. Because even we don’t know why; we just know it works.

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What’s the deal with the fashion faux pas?

I’ll be the first to admit guilt here: Back in my high school track & field days, I was out there in my shorts, sneakers and (cringe) tall athletic socks, which were neither running nor compression socks, but rather the awkward mid-calf length cotton variety.

Other offenders here include shorts that are too short or too long (both bad for obvious reasons), blindingly bright colors (although great for night runs!), socks with barefoot shoes, obscene amounts of gear and other assorted fashion fails.

And don’t even get me started on our shoe collections… As my Twitter friend Peter Esko so eloquently put it: “The correct number of running shoes is n+1 where n is your current number of running shoes. #moreshoesmoremiles”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Any other running-related habits that you find humorous?

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8 thoughts on “What’s the deal with running?

  1. That first picture is so me! I will pull out a stretch out the blue, even pumping gas. All my running bumper stickers explain my odd behavior so I guess its not too bad.

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  2. Another one I might add is…What’s the deal with peeing on the bike? While I have had times when I thought seriously about it, there is nothing pleasant about smelling one’s pee for the next X # of miles…I’m not going to say never, but if I ever do, it must be because I’ve been knocked unconscious for a bit 😉

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    • I know! I don’t get it either…this was a topic of conversation with a girlfriend who was also racing the Oly tri. She has a pro friend who mentioned it, and we were both like, “No way!” She couldn’t relax enough to do it, and I don’t want my new bike covered in pee!

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