Monday, Running

It’s been a while since I talked about running here, other than just noting mileage. Like any practice, it changes over time. When I go back and look at old posts about running, it’s both amusing and terrifying. I pushed myself pretty hard, initially. Of course, you guys know I have two speeds, and two only: full ahead and complete collapse.

This is perhaps not healthy, but oh well. Here’s a list of things about running, to start off this autumnal week.

Runkeeper. I used to log my mileage in paper running diaries like this one. Shifting to outside running with a smartphone drew me away and towards apps, and I tried a couple before settling on Runkeeper. One of the most recent updates included graduated training plans, which was a particular boon to me. When the infrastructure goes down, I’ll probably have to return to analog logging (try saying that a few times fast) but honestly, by then there will be so many other problems I won’t have time to miss my phone.

Shoes. I’m funny about my feet. I can’t stand to have anyone touch them, and I obsess over the fit and feel of my hooves with the fierceness of anyone who’s ever strapped on a pair of pointe shoes. Every brand of running shoes has slightly different sizing, and even in a single brand yearly designs can change to the point of unusability. The quest for running shoes is eternal. Shop for them late in the day when your feet are swollen, and don’t overlook your socks. It only takes one session without padded socks to rub right through foot-skin and bench you for days. Once you find a brand/size that fits, buy two pairs, and alternate wearing them. This gives the shoe interiors time to dry out and bounce back after each session, and lengthens the life of the cushioning.

Pants. It is a fact universally known that once you find a good pair of running pants, they will be discontinued, and this shall be true lo unto the breaking of the world or at least the demise of capitalism. I don’t like running shorts, so even in the dead heat of summer I’ll be out in full-length togs–your preferences will no doubt vary. Buy cheap until you know what you like–there’s not much as awful as investing in expensive gear that chafes in all the wrong spots. I loved a particular kind of Prana pants until they went out of stock, and I’ve had good luck with Title Nine bottoms. Once you start reliably breaking 5km, it’s time to invest in good pants. Especially if you’re chubby like me, which brings us to a related issue…

Chafing. There’s just no way around it. A lot of people swear by paper-backed medical tape; I manage to avoid a lot of blisters with really tough pant material and padded socks. When you’re buying running pants, look at the inside of the thighs. Rubbing there can get particularly painful, and when pants wear out there, well, sewing thigh-patches is not how I want to spend a Saturday morning. (YMMV.) Once you’ve got a raw spot, the problem becomes ameliorating discomfort and keeping it protected enough to heal. I like cocoanut oil for mild rawness, but when I’ve pushed myself and worn away more layers of skin, Aquaphor is my go-to. I’ve found that flexible fabric sticking-plasters stand up the best to repeated rubbing. Again, find what works for you.

Mental Tricks. “Eh, I’ll just run for twenty minutes, and if I REALLY feel like stopping, then I can.” Or, “It’s going to feel so good when I finally hit my goal…and stop.” And the ever-popular, “[X fictional character] wouldn’t stop now, so I won’t.” Figuring out how to game yourself is probably the most useful life skill possible, right after learning how to not give very many fucks about random internet opinions.

Safety. It can be something as simple as taping one earbud to your jacket while you wear the other–that way you can listen to music and still be aware of your surroundings. I run to be alone, despite knowing that I’m safer in a group. Nevertheless, if something happens to you while running, you are not to blame. The onus is on the asshole driver who wasn’t watching where they were going, or the asshole attacker/harasser who thinks they’re entitled to your attention/body/whatever. Take appropriate cautions, and know that you’re not responsible for all the jackasses in the world.

Tiny Increments. When I first started, I couldn’t even run for thirty seconds without my heart feeling like it was going to explode. I’ve had injuries, and had to take weeks off at a time. Playing the long game, in running as well as writing, is all about increments. Two hundred words on a bad writing day is still two hundred more than you had before, and being able to run for ninety seconds was more that you had before. Walk-run-walk intervals are okay, and if you never graduate past them, you’re still a runner. If you need someone to validate that you can do it, that you’re a runner, I’m validating. Small, tiny, concrete gains build on each other, and one day you might find yourself running for some ungodly length of time, finishing an ungodly number of kilometers or miles, and thinking, wow, that wasn’t so bad. That, my friends, is a fucking great feeling, and one I love to share.

I’m off for a run. See you around.

photo by: fabbio
  • Mel

    Figuring out how to game yourself is probably the most useful life skill possible, right after learning how to not give very many fucks about random internet opinions.

    So true! A little creative self-deception (“I’m not really doing the thing, I’m just makings notes about what I would do if I did do the thing”) works wonders when I have trouble getting started at work.