Resolutionary War: Ewww gross.

Morning, friends.  I wrote this post before the tragic events at the Boston Marathon occurred earlier this week.  Like all of you, I am deeply saddened and profoundly affected by what happened at that finish line.  Thank you to so many blog readers who shot me an email to make sure I was OK.  I was not running Boston because, to date, I have not been able to qualify.  But even before the bombings occurred, my mind was on the race and runners that day. Boston is the equivalent of the Olympics for us mere mortals - it's a difficult goal, but nonetheless possible and attainable.  It is pretty much every runner's dream to qualify for and run Boston.  Monday's tragedy will not stop me from running races or otherwise or from trying to qualify for Boston or from running Boston if I ever do.  It will change race day forever though.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those lost and injured and otherwise affected.

Today is all about the ugly underbelly of running.  After running for close to 20 years, I have experienced it all.  And some of it isn't pretty.  It kind of reminds me of that funny photo on Facebook comparing what you feel like you look like when you run and what you actually look like ... this one:

I'll warn you in advance that this post isn't for the faint of heart.  But it's honest.  There are millions of afflictions that runners experience. I'll share the gross ones that I have experienced and how I got over them or how I deal with them.  

1.   Puking.

I am lucky that I have an iron stomach.  I only need a few minutes after a meal before I can go head out on my run, and I have no problems.  I have thrown up one time in my life while running and that was when I was pregnant (but did not know it yet) with my daughter.  Puking, however, is a very normal thing for a lot of people: heat, digestion, overexertion all can contribute to it.  It happens.  If you get sick when you run, do what feels right: take it easy, walk, call someone to come get you, or if you feel fine, start running again.  

2.  Blisters.

My feet are my Achilles Heel (haha) of running: I blister like crazy and have issues with my toes.  I can't avoid it.  I really only start having issues when I'm in the marathon-training zone and do long runs of anything over 15 miles.  I have learned the hard way that socks matter - oh they matter big time.  I use very thin socks (my favorites are Balega).  I also buy my shoes a half size up.  Some runners even go a full size up but that feels too large for me.  I make sure the toe-box of my shoes is nice and wide so my toes have room to breathe.  For runs of 15+ miles, I put Body Glide all over my blister-prone spots on my feet and this seems to help a bit.

Now, when the inevitable blister happens, I usually soak my foot in warm water and Johnson's Foot Soak and rest it.  If it is unbearable, I will pop it (I know I know bad) and then cover it with moleskin and blister-specific band-aids.  My feet look a lot like this when I'm training for a marathon ... yes, really, that sexy: 
3.  Toenails.

I mentioned above that I have issues with toenails.  Oh yes.  This is a common issue.  After the Philly full marathon last November, my right big toe nail killed.  I mean I could barely walk on it and could only wear flip flops.  It was the one thing that was still hurting days after the race - and not just "hurt" or "ache" but intense pain and if I touched it, I would yell bad words.  It eventually (cover your eyes if you cannot handle ...) turned black and fell off.  Gross!  To this day, it looks and feels different than my other toenails.  So I just paint it a dark color and go with it.  It must have been the way the seam on the sock was sitting in my shoe and for 26.2 miles the friction did it in.  Be prepared to lose a toenail or two.  Or for them to get thick and weird.  It happens.  It's a wise idea to keep your toenails cut on the short side.  And if you're a woman, never underestimate the hiding power of dark nail polish on your toes :)

4.  Potty.

It happens to all of us.  That uncontrollable urge to have to use the bathroom during a run or race.  I'll get into the nitty gritty in a second, but on race day, it's a good idea to get to the race location early and immediately find the porta-potties, get in line, do your business, and if you have time, immediately get in line again so you can go one last time before the race begins.  NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE MODEST.  All caps necessary!  I've learned the hard way to bring Purell (toss in trash before the race begins) and toilet paper or a throw away scrap of fabric to carry with me during the run just in case.  Porta-potties are usually stocked well at the start but along the race course or after, it's dicey.  I use old race shirts that I don't like or that have worn out for this purpose.  I cut them into little squares and just toss them in a pocket of my shorts.  I did not do this on a run last year and regretted it.  I had to go -- badly.  It was mile 4 of a half marathon and there was no option but to go.  I was on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philly and saw the porta-potties off to my right.  Unfortunately, this is when the race photo people were snapping away, so there is a picture of me literally deciding whether to go hit that potty or to keep going.  I hit the potty.  It was the right move and cost me a little time, but I didn't care. It was in this porta potty that I realized the critical importance of having a spare square.  There was *nothing* in this porta potty.  Nada.  No paper.  I needed paper.  I MacGuyvered it and used the cardboard toilet paper roll thing.  Not recommended but better than nothing.  Oh, it was on this race that I realized I cannot eat meatballs before a race.  tx.

And now to throw myself under the bus, I will say two words: Poise Moderate.  After having two children, it is a necessity (sometimes more than others).  It is just part of my running wardrobe - and I have learned the hard way that I have to wear one on every single run: from a short little 3 miler all the way to a marathon.  I use Body Glide along the sides to avoid chafing.  I am very thankful for Poise especially when I can't wear them, like in a triathlon (hello: no Poise in the pool).

If you know you are likely to have to stop during a long run/race to use the bathroom, get a race map and seek out the location of the porta-potties.  That way you know exactly how far to go.  If the race is unsupported with porta-potties, well, you may have to go in the woods or somewhere off to the side.  Again, if this is a long race, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE MODEST.  I've done it all: I've stopped in a porta-potty, I've used the woods.  It's not fun, but sometimes it is necessary.

these are your best friends.  learn to love them. just don't touch anything. 

5.  Bugs.

Bugs are gross.  Bugs are also unavoidable.  I've gotten bugs in my eyes, nose, mouth and ears while running.  I much prefer a bug pretty much anywhere than in my eye.  I can power through a bug in the mouth, but if there is something in my eye, I go crazy.  There isn't much you can do to avoid bugs. 

6.  Chafing.

Body Glide is a wonder product to avoid chafing.  For any run over, say, 5 miles, I use it to be safe.  I put it along the edges of my sports bra: under the boobs, under the arm pits, around the shoulders, around the top.  I also use it all over my boobs.  No one wants to bleed there.  If you've run or watched a half or full marathon, chances are you've seen someone (most likely a dude) who did not use body glide and who has blood coming from his nipples.  This is for real.  Body Glide is your friend.  I also use Body Glide on my feet and along the sides of my Poise (see above).  You'll still chafe and you'll feel it as soon as you hit the shower.  

To recover from chafing, I swear by Bag Balm -- that stuff in the green tin in the drug store below.  It helps.  It smells very much like an antiseptic (see the lid) but it works.  Also, bonus: if you put it on your feet before bed you will wake up with buttery soft feet - true story. 

7.  Sweating.

If you don't like sweating, you'll either have to pick a new sport or learn how to deal.  I don't care about sweating.  In fact, I really like it.  I don't like sweat in my eyes.  So I wear a headband or a visor to keep my eyes nice and clear.  If sweating is not your thing at all, you can also cut up old race shirts (like I do in case I need to spare a square in a porta potty) and wipe your face with those during a run.  

8.  Falling.  

I feel once on a run. I was, thankfully, with my husband and we were training for a half marathon together.  I was going down a very steep hill and lost my footing and BAM.  Hello ground. It was really scary and I was so thankful I wasn't alone.  This is also why I have such a fear of downhills both in running and biking.  I realized on that run that I needed some form of ID.  I was fine and had my wits about me, but if I were alone and hit my head, that would have been a different, very bad, story. I ordered a Road ID and I never, ever, run without it.  Get one.  It's $20.  You stick it on your shoe and never have to worry about it again.  Get one now.  Here is the link.  Did you get it yet?  

That about does it!  I am sure there are many more afflictions but hey this is a good start.  Soon, I'll give my advice on what to do when you bonk out (aka: hit the wall) on a run.  

Come on ... don't let me be the cheese who stands alone here.  Share a gross running story with me.  In the immortal words of Billy Madison, "It's cool to pee your pants!"  

See you swoon,
Disclaimer: None of the above companies or websites mentioned have paid or otherwise comped me for mentioning them here in this post. All thoughts and opinions herein are my own.  Further,  I am not a professional and certainly not a doctor, so before you begin any running or other exercise program, please speak to a doctor first, listen to your body, know your limits.  I am not an expert:  this is just my compilation of tips for what works for me.


  1. ah my sister in Poise - I was on an 8 miler with my usual running companions. I had to pee sooo badly dear god I thought I would burst - in the park on a busy trail - saw a porta potty - PTL!!! alas when I opened it I literally jumped back dragging said companions who also reared back (you know it's bad when you can offend a couple of dogs). damn even I am not that brave - So I'm looking for an out of the way spot on the trail - nada it's fairly open and trying to deal with the Wonder Twins while squatting ain't an option. So I did it - I simply seed my pants behind a tree while the dogs stared at me. They were probably mad that we stopped.

    You've also converted me to the "I need a square of something for wiping but I've embarrassed myself enough thank you.

  2. Hilarious!!!! I don't run but I walk long routes, and I have had FIVE kids, without embarassing myself too bad, I got about 2 miles out from home, OMG, I tried to turn around and run home.........I wish I had a poise!!!!!