So many things nobody told me about running. I can’t list them all, so here’s five.
1. Bubbles. Running shakes everything loose, not just little things like plot points, problems, and ponytails. The most embarrassing, of course, is the stomach massage from the core keeping one upright as well as the bouncing and jouncing–all this combines to squeeze one’s digestive system until every possible bubble is expelled. Thankfully the solid bubbles tend to bounce up from my stomach and out my mouth; I am told, however, it’s only a matter of time before one occurs in the opposite direction. I won’t go into more detail–suffice to say, I am religious about dietary fiber now.
2. Chafing. No matter how seamless the garment, rubbing occurs. Even if one were to run naked, certain places on the body will undergo friction. I swear by cocoanut oil, applied before running in the Usual Spots, and after the post-workout shower, too. But there’s no goddamn way to avoid discomfort when you first get in the shower, and the sweat and water makes every rubbed-raw inch BURN LIKE FIRE. I generally start swearing, which does not lessen the pain, but it tricks me into thinking I’m in some sort of control.
3. Crying. My tear ducts get a workout too. Cold weather or hot dry weather floods my eyes while running, and if I’m losing weight or especially stressed nosebleeds happen too. Basically I look like a crying, bloody-faced zombie. Sometimes people try to stop me to ask if I’m okay. Other times they do everything possible to avoid me, including walking in the street. Except for…
4. Men. I cede the entire sidewalk or walkway to elderly people, women with strollers, and wheelchairs. I think it’s fair for the rest of us to share. Men do not seem to agree. About fifty percent of men I run past (in either direction) will try to flag me down to say something about the weather or another pleasantry, as if I have time while RUNNING to stop and shoot the shit with their Highly Important Selves. (I’m not counting Walking For Jesus Man into this, because he was definitely a statistical outlier in every way.) Eighty percent of all the men I pass (this includes those who try to flag me down) will stay right in the middle of the sidewalk, trying to force me to run into someone’s yard or out into the road to avoid them, especially when I have B with me and don’t want to give her the idea that she should nip at bastards who get too close. Apparently, eighty percent of men who go for walks believe they own every inch of public space and I should be relegated to the margins instead of to my fair share. Most of the remaining twenty percent are out walking with another female, and generally it’s the female who begins to move to the side to allow me a little bit of space. There are very few men who move over a bit as I approach, and those are the ones I chirp “Good morning!” at.
Other runners, both male and female, are in a class of their own, and always grant a fair share of space. They also grant a smile or a thumb’s-up, and always get one in return.
5. Smell. One encounters a wide variety of scents while running, from honeysuckle to roadkill. But running will also get you to notice changes in your own, ahem, fragrance. Burning off stress chemicals makes me smell like metallic chicken soup; when my hormone balance changes monthly I can smell it in my sweat, and let’s not even talk about the mornings after Roasted Garlic Nights. I get to feeling like I’m carrying a Pigpen cloud of stench, even though the kids swear they can’t smell me when I get home.
They may be trying to save my feelings. I can’t tell.
There are other things I wasn’t told about this running thing, but I have some couth, so I’ll spare you. You can thank me later, I’ve got to get out the door and run.