Throughout the time I’ve spent in and around running, I’ve observed, heard and experienced some interesting and often very funny things. Recently it occurred to me that runners are a bit odd.
Der! You all say.
Of course we are odd, we know that. We get out of a perfectly nice warm bed in the middle of winter to go outside into the cold and run in tiny shorts. We consume sometimes unpalatable foods (or things that are meant to be food) to provide us with enough calories to get us to the finish line of some unfathomable race distance. We even spend large amounts of money for the “privilege” of running over mountains or through environments that would frighten even the hardiest of mountain goats.
One of the more subtle or sometimes unnoticed things that happens to us runners is how it changes our bodies. From what I have observed, most of the weirdness happens to trail runners and in ways that kind of creep up on you.
Something that happens to me, is my body develops a split personality. Not my brain, just my body (I think). When I’ve been training a lot and doing a lot of hill running in particular, the lower half of my body gets thicker and builds muscle on my quads, calves and my butt. But my upper body shrinks down and gets skinnier. This of course makes perfect sense given the type of training I am doing, but it makes buying pants damn near impossible. Essentially what I have created is a Serena Williams butt and thighs with a Kate Moss waist line. The outcome is that I have to buy pants 3 sizes too big to fit my legs and rear end and then get them shortened and add extra holes to my belt.
A friend of mine commented once that after a few months of hard training in the mountains, he had developed a small bald spot on the front of each of his thighs. After spending some time thinking about what may have caused it, he discovered that bald spot is exactly where he places his thumbs when he pushes off his thighs while charging up the hills. Strange yes, but kind of cool right?
Speaking of bald patches… one of my coaching clients has been quite successfully hiding his male pattern baldness by shaving his head back to a number three all year round. Recently though he noticed that a new bald patch has appeared right down the centre of his head from the front to the back. He soon realised that the central bald strip was being caused by the strap on his Ayup head torch. I’ve been giving this poor guy training programs for over a year now which require him to do all sorts of nasty things to himself. To fit his training sessions into his busy life, he does pretty much all his running in the either the pre-dawn darkness or the post-dusk darkness. We are also concerned that he may actually morph into a Vampire if he keeps this up, as any running in daylight is becoming quite uncomfortable for him.
Mangled toes and toenails, weathered faces, scarred knees, scratches on the shins that no sooner heal before they are replaced with new ones, rashes in places that don’t even have anatomical names, and feet that have hardened so well over the years that you could literally walk on a bed of nails covered in glass that is on fire, are just some of the things that we accept as part of the deal of being a runner.