Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guest Post: The Unmentionables of Running

As I've pointed out more than a few times, after running my first marathon, I discovered that one of my toenails was turning black. I never thought it would happen to me! I've heard of runners losing nails, but I just thought I wouldn't have that problem, because I'd never had the problem before. But it sparked a conversation about the "unmentionables" of running.

And who better to ask about those topics than The Boring Runner? One of the things I enjoy most about Adam's blog is his bluntness. He is not ashamed to talk about things that would make other runners blush, or admit when runner's trots got the best of him. "The Boring Runner" is not at all what I would call 'boring', because it's extremely entertaining--Adam has a way of talking about boring stuff and making it interesting!

I asked Adam to write this guest post about the grosser parts of running, and I think you will find it entertaining and even informative. Also, and I didn't know this until I read his guest post, Adam is a fellow weight-loser--he's lost 50 pounds! I hope you enjoy his post, and make sure you check out his blog as well. I look forward to his Funny Foto Friday posts all week ;)

Six days a week, my routine is very similar.  I wake up, stumble around a bit, put in my contacts, fill my water bottles, and wait.  Oh, I might read a blog or two, check up on twitter, but mostly – I wait. You see, after 6 years of running I’ve learned many interesting and amazing things about my body.  The most important? Waiting 10 minutes before a run to go poop is oh so much better than duck walking half a mile to the local convenience store at mile 4 of a 10 mile run. Quite simply, I’ve learned that, while my body propels me to speeds I only dreamt of, on occasion it reminds me just who is in control.

First things first, I suppose that I should introduce myself.  As you might expect, this is not Slim Katie.  My name is Adam and I blog over at The Boring Runner, where I have a reputation for saying all of the things that everyone is thinking but doesn’t quite feel comfortable saying. Poop? Yep.  Frost bite on my pointy bits? Yep. Talking about how I met a nice homeless person while peeing behind McDonalds? Yep.   My blog follows my journey of completing 15 marathons and counting, losing 50 pounds, taking a full hour off of my marathon time, and becoming a running coach.....all while trying to balance work, fatherhood, and my horrible reality TV obsession.  

Katie recently reached out after her marathon (likely after a post wherein I spoke of corns on my feet or snot on my shoulder) asking if I would write a quick blurb about some of the not so glamorous things that happen to our bodies as a result of running. Just like a runner to a bowl of free breadsticks at Olive Garden, I dove in head first.  What follows are a few of the not so pleasant tidbits about what happens to our bodies while running (and what to do about them!) that I’ve picked up along the way.

Runners Trots: Isn’t it funny how marketing companies have a way with making anything about poop seem cute and cuddly? Example: Those cartoon bears in the toilet paper commercials. What do THEY have to do with toilet paper? I think if I saw a bear using toilet paper I’d ship him off to the circus faster than you could say “hey Yogi, ride this tricycle”.  Same goes for runners trots.  Cute name, not so cute bodily function. Quite simply, this is the urge to “go” (poop) while you are running. We’ve all been there – a sweaty in a gas station bathroom we wouldn’t normally set foot in.

There are two main reasons that “cause” the often VERY sudden urge: First, blood is diverted away from your GI tract into your legs and lungs (stopping digestion) and second, the sloshing of everything frankly helps it break free. Lovely.  There are lots of things that you can do to try to prevent them (other than making sure you’ve “went” before).  Caffeine is the biggest culprit, but also avoiding greasy or fatty foods the night before, avoiding dairy, and of course the day before is NOT the time to start an all fiber cleanse. Making sure you are well hydrated will help with the aforementioned “going” beforehand... and well, toilet paper in a ziplock is never weight wasted.

Sweat / Chaffing: Other than to clear bowels, most people run to burn calories.  The problem? Burning calories creates heat. (In fact, a calorie isn’t a unit of ice cream, it is officially a unit of heat!) When it gets hot, bodies sweat. A lot. It can turn those cute white Nike shorts into a bit of a peep show - fast. Sweating has its purpose. In fact, the more you sweat (or rather, the more your sweat evaporates) the cooler you’ll be. But sweat has a nasty side....Chaffing.

Whenever you mix fabric with moisture and two pieces of skin rubbing together (insert inappropriate joke here) the skin revolts into a red, sometimes bloody, always painful rash.  The solution is either a product like body glide / Vaseline (that stains clothes) or tighter fitting clothing.  Put it wherever skin meets skin or where seams touch your skin (waist, bra line, crotch, under arms...pretty much everywhere).

Calluses/Corns/Black Toenails: Running can help you lose weight to become a slimmer, sexier you....but running is hell on your feet.  Each time we take a step while running our feet absorb 2.5x our own body weight.  Oh our poor feet. They callus, get dry, corns may develop, and you might even lose a toenail – all in the name of running! (I’m really selling running right now, huh?) Being a guy, I haven’t found a solution to this that doesn’t question my manhood.  I assume that you could probably get weekly pedicures to shave off the calluses.  Black Toenails are usually a sign of shoes that do not fit quite rite (or a 2nd toe that is much longer than the first).  Feet swell up to a full size bigger when running long distances, so your little tootsies need room to grow!

Snot: Honestly? I have no idea why running causes so much snot. But it does. Blow away! Just practice your aim.  Trust me.

Those are the high (low brow?) points.  There are lots of other examples of unmentionables that go along with running (farting anyone?) but the four above are certainly a great start.  I mean, once you have those figured out, running is actually pretty fun!
50 pounds down!


  1. Wow, that was pretty informative and yet fairly disgusting. I have just started training for my first half-marathon and so I will definatly plan to pack tp in a baggie for longer runs. As for the swelling feet, I just bought a pair of Brooks Ravenas a full size larger than my normal shoe size because the running store suggested it! Thanks for the tips! Katie- I am a new-ish reader but I love this blog so much I wish I could squeeze it! Your authenticity is wonderful. I started at the beginning a few weeks ago and am all caught up! Congratulations on your HARD WORK!

  2. great post! I'm running my first 5k on sunday and it's nice to hear the not-so-nice things about running.

  3. Until two weeks ago I thought runner's trots had something to do with pacing. My epiphany came the hard way. Also, there are absolutely no bears on a trail run offering toilet paper. Which I think is false advertising, CHARMIN.

    1. Ahahahahahahaha :) Best comment ever.

  4. That was awesome!! Thank you for the guest-post, Adam! I learned and laughed! :)

  5. Great! I loved the last little bit - farting anyone? I let one rip while running today and quickly looked around to make sure there was nobody nearby. Luckily there wasn't!

  6. Love this post! Very funny and so relatable. :)

  7. Thanks for sharing. Entertaining read. My better half is enjoy alot of these unmentionables now as a greenhorn runner... Reinforces my "bloody nipples" stories... Keep inspiring!

  8. Awesome post...hilarious!

  9. LOVED this post! Now I have a new blog to read :)

  10. Great post!! Too bad I am reading this AFTER I foolishly went running the morning I had bran flakes and coffee for breakfast. :-O

  11. Great post! I really like reading Adam's blog. I like the first comment that said how disgusting this is... It's also very true! Considering the topics, it could have been a lot worse. If you have a running buddy, you might as well get used to the TMI talk. :)

  12. Yay! Thanks for letting me write the guest post! It was fun!

  13. i had just asked a runner friend why the half i signed up for when i was drunk specified that Gatorade and Vasoline was provided at all water stations...for chapped lips???? She laughed at me...hard. then i laughed back when she told me when she started running she bought AstroGlide instead of Body Glide because she got confused...anyways...its like childbirth..we should talk about these things so that its not awkward. Also, love The Boring Runner's blog.

  14. That is a great! Thanks for the frank discussion of the "other" side of running!

  15. I carry a sweat mop for both sweat AND snot! I will NOT be blowing any snot rockets!

  16. Thanks for introducing us to Adam! I just subscribed to his blog! He is a very funny & informative guy.

    I so wish I had read something like this before my first 1/2. Maybe I would have worn roomy shoes and proper socks. Instead I have a VERY stubborn black toenail!


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