This article is really for all the non-runners out there.
We know you roll your eyes at us when we tell you about how running has changed our lives. We know you don’t get it when we tell you about the mind expanding, spirit uplifting experiences we have when running crazy distances in ridiculous places.
We know, we know…
But, there are some things we don’t tell you because we don’t want you to question our sanity (even more than you already do). There are secrets that are not spoken widely about outside of the fraternity of runners. It’s a bit like Fight Club actually.
In the interest of inclusivity and education, I’ll let you in on some of the dirty little secrets us runners tend to keep to ourselves. The points listed below do NOT of course apply to me. These are things that happen to other people. Honestly… sort of.
1) Toe nails are optional – It is actually not that uncommon for runners to lose a toe nail on a run because of the toe jamming up against the end of their shoe and levering the nail out of the toe. Sometimes it comes off during the run, other times it dies a slow painful death and comes off later. Either way, life goes on. No biggie.
2) We see stuff – Somebody once said “If you run for long enough, something is bound to happen”. Very true! Often what happens are total physical and mental exhaustion and then the inevitable hallucinations. I once Someone I know once ran for 45 hours after only 3 hours sleep and saw buildings, walls, people and random shoes laying about on the trail – that were not actually there. This is normal… nothing to be concerned about. Maybe.
3) What goes in, must come out – You can’t run for stupid distances without eating; this is a fact. Nor should you try. The other simple fact is that if food goes in, at some point in the future, the food that your body has not broken down to use as energy must go somewhere. Murphy’s Law dictates that said food will decide to make its grand exit at the most inopportune time. For the runner in the middle of a race, there is not ideal timing for this, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the contents of your bowels will show up the worst possible time and at a rapid rate of knots. The other unfortunate fact is that the runner’s body for some reason decides that south OR north are both acceptable directions for the exit strategy. So if you ever see a runner with “odd” stains on his shorts or shirt, just know that he or she had no other choice.
4) It’s not all sunshine and lolly pops – Yes, we tell you that every run is beautiful, easy, fun, invigorating; but the real truth is that some runs suck. They suck hard. Sometimes we are running along and the only thing we can think about is how great it would be to be laying in bed, eating a hamburger, watching paint dry… ANYTHING else, just not running. Depending on the kind of distance runner you are, this feeling may last minutes, hours or possibly even days. We console ourselves in the knowledge that at some point in the future this will end, and that we chose (and sometimes paid a hilarious amount of money for the privilege) to be there at that moment, doing what we are doing.
I tell you these dirty little secrets with the hope that you don’t remind us about them. We have mastered the art of ‘Goldfish Memory Loss’ and would prefer to carry on just the way we are, thank you very much.
Because, at the end of the day, we can all say without any hesitation or second thoughts, that regardless of what we might have to endure to do what we do…
IT IS WORTH IT.