We’re getting to know each other better here, so it’s time to talk about the less glamorous side of running. While running does great things for body and mind, the process of getting there can have some not so great physical side effects. If you’re squeamish, reader beware below.
Blisters, calluses and chafing, oh my.
Running more miles puts more stress on our delicate wrappings, so you may be noticing that your feet are looking rougher than usual or that you’re starting to develop calluses from areas experiencing repeated chafing. The key to preventing and healing skin aggravation is lubrication. While there are plenty of runner-targeted products, regular items like petroleum jelly can also work well. If you already have a blister, carefully clean the area, cover it with a lubricant and use moleskin or another blister product to prevent further friction. Once you identify your chafing areas, always cover them with a preventative product. And men, unless you need to learn the lesson for yourself, invest in band aids for your nipples.
Spit, Snot and Etiquette
Spit and snot happen when you’re running, particularly during the winter. Non-runners may glare at you, but it’s okay to clear your throat or nose, provided you use some etiquette in so doing. Check to make sure you’re clear of other people before letting loose and if you’re running with others, consider an “excuse me.”
You may notice that you are starting to develop a list of “good bathrooms” in town. When you’re well hydrated, you start to spend more time looking for and in the bathroom. This is a good thing. While you’re in there, take note of your hydration status. If your urine looks like lemonade, you’re doing a good job with hydration. If not, try to drink more throughout your day.
Having to go more often while training is one reality. Leakage and accidents are another challenge that many runners face. It’s not uncommon to struggle with this, especially for post-partum women. However, there are treatments that can help alleviate the issue. First, make a “final pee” stop before you leave for a long run. Second, do pelvic floor exercises such as kegels to help improve control. If you don’t experience improvement, consider checking out pelvic floor physical therapy.
Another unfortunate reality of marathon training are gastrointestinal issues which can be exacerbated by the stress of longer runs, dehydration and by many of the long run training foods. Most of us will have the unfortunate experience of a run-ending stomach rumble and a dash to the bathroom at least once before KBVCM this year. Diarrhea and cramps happen, both in training and in races. It can be tempting to use a prophylactic to help with GI issues, but they interfere with the absorption of water and liquids and will work against you in trying to stay hydrated.
To prevent awkward running moments, introduce new foods carefully. If you are upping your intake of fiber, do it gradually and consider avoiding it the night before long runs. Never wash energy gels down with sports drink; the sugar will overload your gut. If you find that your stomach is particularly upset by training foods, real food options may be a good choice. One important way to prevent them on race day is to never try any new foods in the week leading up to the race. You can try new things in your next training cycle, but in the week before, stick with what you know.