What I’ve learned from running

Everyone has this type of post, so here’s mine.

Clothes matter. You have to be very careful what you wear. In most settings, you can talk about how cotton shirts just keep all the sweat and don’t evaporate, making for an unfun experience. You can also talk about how the wrong shoes can lead to a genuine injury. In less polite settings, you can talk about the effects of chafing.

If you wear your running clothes in public, people will give you a lot more credit than you probably deserve. I personally like to go to Walmart and buy the least healthy food I can while wearing running gear. Sometimes I pin one of the old bibs on just so it looks like I was just finishing up.

There’s always going to be someone who can run farther and faster than you. The trick is to kick ‘em in the knee before they really get going. I recommend the first 40 yards. Distance runners are rarely true sprinters.

Despite the fact that running can burn a lot of calories, it doesn’t burn nearly as many as you will try to eat afterward. After eating 6,700 calories in two days as a reaction to my 5K this weekend, I am proof. And it was so worth it.

Unlike any number of healthy activities, if you tell people you’re running even though you hate it, they’ll give you grief. Not a single person has given me grief for eating salads even though I despise them. Not one. Running is one of the few good decisions you can make even though you don’t want to that people actually care about. Tell everyone you bathe even though you don’t like to. Tell people you floss. Tell people you take the stairs. No one will say a peep. Make a blog about running and suddenly everyone cares.

You will inadvertently revert back to your ancestral tendencies and start chasing things. It’s not that you mean to, but if someone is running around your pace and they’re in front of you, you will invariably speed up to catch them. It’s only natural, but when you burn out trying to catch someone slightly faster than you, remember to move out of the way.

There are people that running comes easy to. They can not run for months, and then run 2 or 3 miles like it’s no big deal. Meanwhile, the rest of us can run for months and still not be able to go more than a mile or so nonstop.

Speaking of which, there is a sect in the running community that will judge you for walking in a race. Especially if you finish ahead of someone who ran the whole time. You have no idea how much fun it is to beat someone who didn’t walk.

And there’s another sect that will encourage you in a race. When you’re exhausted and feel like you don’t have a friend in the world, someone will pass you and tell you you’re doing a good job. Shoot, they may even offer to let you run with them. Some of the nicest people in the world. I hate those people.

At some point during a run, you will have gastrointestinal distress. No matter how well you prep, no matter how careful you are, it’s going to happen. Hopefully, you’ll be near a restroom. If you’re less lucky, you’re in a secluded area. If you’re unfortunate, then you will get neither scenario.

(scroll past the picture of the feet to see more analysis of this topic: http://theoatmeal.com/blog/ultramarathon)

You will have several close encounters with moving vehicles. Sometimes they just won’t give you much room if you’re on the road. Sometimes they’ll pull out in front of you. You can wear all the neon yellow in the world, but it doesn’t stop the DMV from giving licenses to bad drivers.

You will eventually get caught out in bad weather. Whether it’s because the forecast was clear when you set out or you didn’t think it would be that bad, you will get caught eventually. There is something incredibly pure about that experience. There is also something very terrible about being soaking wet on the 5-mile drive home.

At some point, you will have people yell at you. If you’re a girl, you probably already knew this and (very unfortunately) are probably used to it. On behalf of the non-jackasses, I’m extremely sorry. Guys, it’ll probably happen to you eventually too. The difference is when it happens to you, it’s an odd story. It’s not for women. In other words, don’t complain about in mixed company unless you’ve got a very interesting version of a story they’ve already lived.

If you run on a popular route, you might inadvertently run into a race on the weekend. Literally. I’ve been run into a collision course with multiple 5Ks. It’s really weird to be on an early, solitary run only to find a hundred people running at you at once. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to being an epic Greek warrior charging into the horde alone.

Now if you’re more social and you time it right, you could always fall in with the 5K, but the lack of a bib will probably clue people in.

At some point, you will injure yourself running. It may be overuse. It may be a random strain. It may even just be tripping for no apparent reason. But you will injure yourself.

At some later point, you will try to come back too soon from an injury. It’s ok. We’re all idiots sometimes.

And eventually, for some ungodly reason, you’ll decide to start a blog that only a couple of friends and your mom read.

But let’s face to the truth. I’ve benefited from running. Even if I don’t find it the most enjoyable activity in the world, 30-60 minutes of running gives me a lot more benefits than what I would have done otherwise with that time. I’m in better shape. My head’s clearer after a run. I’m amassing a collection of shirts (and inexplicably medals). And I’m not wasting away like I would otherwise. Running two or three times a week is an easy investment. And running is a lot easier than most exercise opportunities. So even though I complain about it, I’m going to keep running because it’s good for me.




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