Friday, April 5, 2013

Fun For Friday - Running Can Hurt

I've touched on this before, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of non-runners or newbie runners have this notion that running is always a state of euphoria and perfection. It's running on air and all sunshine and rainbows. Then, they get out there and try to run and don't feel like they're running on air, or even breathing in air for that matter.

I used to be a non-runner, someone who hated it, couldn't understand it, thought all runners were both crazy and amazing at the same time. I expected it to be fun. Super duper fun. Why?

I think runners tend to sort of romanticize running. Not on purpose, not trying to be untruthful. We are always talking about that amazing run, that feeling of being free, our "me" time, it's our zen, runner's high, etc. Yes, it is all of that to us. But, often we gloss over that crappy run. Or we forget to mention that, while basking in our runner's high, we might be icing down an ache, or applying a band-aid to a popped blister. 

I know I'm guilty of talking about how great a run was, or how it was much-needed. If I have a bad run, I'll admit it, but I also try to learn from it, justify it in a way. There's usually a reason. 

However, no matter how great the run was, it was still hard. It was still work. Even the best runs sometimes make you think you're lungs my explode. You still may have some fleeting doubts about your sanity. Wondering why you're out in the rain. That's not exactly "fun" necessarily, though it can be when you stop thinking about unpleasantries. It's not boatloads of joy to wake up at 5 and head out in the dark when it's 20 degrees. It's not like runners don't feel the cold, the extreme heat, the aches and pains. 

So, after all that rambling, let's talk about the unpleasantries associated with running. Just so everyone is clear that runners aren't super-human. We do feel pain. And running is never easy-peasy despite our declarations and shouting from the heavens about how wonderful it was. Trust me, at some point, we were not comfortable. And if someone says otherwise, then I'm going to call B.S. 

Here is my list of unpleasantries that might be associated with running:

Chaffing - Seriously, I don't care how big or small your thighs are, you will chafe and it will hurt like hell. You can also get chaffed in place you didn't know existed. 

Emergency potty situations - Let's just say that no bathroom is too disgusting or off limits when you HAVE to go while running. Even a tree will suffice. 

Desire to quit - Sometimes every fiber of your being is yelling at you to stop the madness, and sometimes you still have 5 miles or more to get back home so you have to suck it up and figure out how to develop major mental fortitude. 

Fatigue/exhaustion - It's work. It's going to be tiring. Period.

Exploding lungs - Sometimes you feel like your lungs are on fire or that they will in fact explode. They won't, I promise. It'll hurt, but you just keep moving.  

Black toes - I've not had a toenail turn black and fall off just yet, but I've had plenty of blood blisters that end up making the tips of the toes look black, usually during the summer when feet get too sweaty and slip in the shoe. 

Blisters - At some point, even the best of socks will find a way to rub a blister into your foot or toe or even bottom of your foot. 

Aches and pains - You will have aches and pains. Period. You're muscles will get tired, sore, fatigued. Just know what working muscles feel like vs injured muscles. 

Injuries - At some point, I think all runners end up with an injury. Usually it's the IT Band, hamstring pull, or patellar (runner's knee) injury. Get to know your body!

And despite all of the above, somehow, it can still be enjoyable. I promise. It definitely makes you feel alive. I think the key is to realizing that it IS work. You ARE exerting effort and energy. The key to enjoying is to get out of your head, stop thinking about how much it hurts or how tiring it is, and enjoy it for what it is - an accomplishment.

Agree or disagree? What are some of the unpleasantries that tend to get glossed over? Of course, sometimes runners tend to want to brag about the bad stuff, like it makes us more of a badass to have the black toes, run in the snow, show off the battle scars called chaffing.