There’s a tonne of awesome benefits to running - health, mind and most importantly the free t-shirts from running events.
Unfortunately, many people started to take note of these great boons, and have taken up running. Turning my once tranquil and solitary runs into a maze of people to dodge.
In order to combat this, I’ve compiled a short list of things no one tells you before you start in the hope it puts people off, and I can get back to running in peace and quiet where I can drift off and think about the important things in life - pizza toppings, Anchorman quotes and arm workouts - without running headfirst into someone in a daydream.
This is the insidious distance killer, the further you run the worse it gets targeting any and all areas that your skin rubs against itself or clothing. It doesn’t matter how fit or experienced a runner you are - nothing is safe.
Plasters and vaseline are your best friend here.
Top tip: in colder months, stick a plaster over your nipples for long runs. Looks funny, but it will save the sensitive spots from a nasty fate.
There is also a lot of support for compression tops/leggings to help reduce chafing - I can’t comment as I’ve always stuck with shorts and t-shirt/vest as a base layer and it’s worked fine with a little vaseline here and there for long runs.
Can we take a second to appreciate the quiet and lack of stuff that happens while running? Especially if you run alone, it’s just you and the road ahead. There’s no cool moves or feats of strength to perform, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other hundreds and thousands of times.
If you find a nice scenic stretch it’s actually a pretty nice experience, but if you’re stuck in the city or out while it’s dark it can be fairly monotonous. In either case, I recommend having some tunes or listening to a podcast to help make the time go a little quicker. It can be quite meditative being alone with your thoughts out on the road, but there are days when a little auditory support is appreciated.
3. Shoes don’t fit
You’ve just paid a small fortune for the latest sneaks, they’re going to fit like a glove, right?
Like regular shoes, it’ll take a little breaking in to get the shoes to fit to your individual feet. How long this takes varies from shoe to shoe and person to person, the best bet is to either pre-plaster and protect any contact areas (the arch of your foot, the opposite side and the parts of your ankle where the lip of the shoe meets skin) or just go for a quick run in them and see what the damage is.
With new shoes I like to break them in slowly, starting with shorter than normal runs and building the distance up. This minimises the damage done to your feet while getting the shoes broken in, and getting used to the fit of them. You can absolutely just slap them on and power through your regular runs, just prepare for the greater risk of blisters and chafing.
4. Throat Assault
Originally this was going to be bugs in summertime, but to keep it valid all year I’m throwing in the chill of breathing in winter. There really is no safe time to breathe in through your mouth when running: in the summer and autumnal months your uvula will be rattled with kamikaze bugs, and in winter Jack Frost will treat you to an ice cold shot of air*.
There’s no real fix for this, just try to control your pace and breathing so that you don’t have to run with your mouth wide open like a whale shark on legs. If you’re shooting for a fast pace and can’t help it, then think of the bugs as extra protein and energy.
*You may say “what about Spring?”, to which I would argue there is no Spring in Scotland, just a more rainy winter.
5. Downhill is Rough
When driving a car or riding a bike, the downhill is a freebie. Coast, rest up and glide into the next stretch of road, flowing gracefully into the next part of your journey.
Not so with running, as you rock your knees with each stuttering step, pummelling your battered joints with the jack-hammer of your own bones. Downhill portions are a relief only from the pain in your lungs and blistered feet, because you won’t be feeling anything past the sensation of smashing your leg bones to dust.
The far less painful option here is to just throw yourself off the edge and try to roly poly your way to the bottom.