I have only been running for the last 5 years. Prior to that, I only ran if I absolutely had to. Sports practices, mainly. And I was definitely one of the slow ones. I still am one of the slow ones, but now I can run that slow for hours. My forte is a moderate pace for a long time. I’m sure I could get faster if I worked at it… but I don’t like it.
Anyway, I have spent a lot of time on the road in the last 5 years and I have learned a lot about exercise and myself and training and the cities I’ve lived in. I’ve learned important things and trivial things and everything in between.
And then there are things that you only learn when you are a runner:
1. Your own clothing can make you bleed. Seriously, chafing is a nightmare. If you have never heard of BodyGlide, I strongly suggest you look into it.
2. Toenails are overrated. But the people at my nail salon are awesome. I currently have an acrylic toenail to replace one that fell off. It looks real, my feet look slightly less horrible, and I think it is absolutely hilarious to have an acrylic toenail.
3. Some foods and exercise don’t mix. Some people can eat whatever they want before/while they run and it is totally fine. I am not one of those people. I’ll spare you the details.
4. The location of gas stations within a 10 mile radius. And parks with nice bathrooms.
5. Exactly one mile from your house in every direction.
6. Exact distances between arbitrary landmarks. “Hey, it’s only 2.7 miles from here to [insert random location here]!” “This intersection means I’m only 1.35 miles from home!”
7. You also learn how many people actually have no idea how far a marathon is. I cringe every time someone asks me how long my marathon is. Well, you know, marathon distance. Or when people tell me their sister ran a 5K marathon. With her unicorn, because that exists too.
8. You learn that you do, in fact, have a favorite flavor of gel. Montana Huckleberry for this girl.
9. How many muscles you use when you walk down the stairs. Because all of them hurt after a race. Especially when that race is a downhill marathon.
10. Weird things you do when you run – according to my latest race photos, my right thumb likes to stay in a “thumbs-up” position. I also like to think about food (imagine that!). For a long time, I only felt comfortable holding my water bottle in my left hand. My ipod always gets clipped to my left hip.
11. More than you ever wanted to know about your training partners – how happy or unhappy they are at 6:30 am, their bathroom habits, and their chafing problems, among others.
On the other hand, some of the best conversations I have had were on the run. I have rarely found better listeners than my running partners.
12. That you will have to learn to evade small (and large) animals. Cats, dogs, snakes, geese, prairie dogs, turkeys… normal things.
What totally random things have you learned on the road?