What runners don’t tell you about running…..

First apologies for the time between posts, will be better organised from now on 😉

For those of you who are runners, do you remember tales told to you by seasoned runners about their outrageously long runs, sage advice and espousing how fantastic running is?

For those who are contemplating taking up running, I’m sure you already hear this from running veterans (and yes I am guilty as charged).  “What are you waiting for?  Just get out there – you’ll be running a marathon in no time.”  And while running is probably the best form of exercise ever… there is a dark side…. and it needs to be told.

So come closer Grasshopper and you will learn.

When you first start running especially distance or endurance – it is NOT fun, it is NOT easy and you WILL be sore after a run.  In reality there will be parts of your body you didn’t even know existed hurting after a long run.  Most probably you will be thinking that endurance runners are little more than masochistic idiots – but Grasshopper you will continue to run.


Maybe it’s to lose weight.  Maybe it’s to complete a bucket list item (e.g. run a half marathon, etc).  Maybe it’s because you lost a bet?  Maybe you’ve been conned into participating in a corporate team for a triathlon.  Maybe it’s because you think there must be something in it because of how many runners there are. And you would be right.

Despite the initial challenges of getting your body in running shape the benefits are worth it.  It’s kinda hard to explain, but when you hit that zone that you feel good – your mind and body in sync and positive endorphins pumping through your body – you feel awesome.

Ever heard of the “Runner’s High”?  I was reading the following post by Chris Vaught when he raised the concept and it’s a perfect way to describe it.

Patience young Grasshopper, I haven’t forgotten about telling you about the dark side.  Over the next few weeks I’ll cover off some of the problems, common ailments, injuries, trials and tribulations that runners normally don’t talk about to non-runners or newbies.

In this post I will be covering the curse that is Chafing.

A couple of years ago I completed my first half marathon race on the Gold Coast and ended up a victim of serious chafing.  The morning was pretty cool on race day and I had a light dry tech short sleeve shirt so was feeling it.  Now the problem of it being cold, is that well how to put this … well my nipples were showing a little more than normal.  The more I sweated the colder I got, and so the situation was further exacerbated.

When running I always work up a sweat, and on this day, despite the cold weather, was no different.  Progressively the salt from my sweat crystalised like little bits of sand on my body.

As my shirt rubbed against my chest I ended up with the worst case of nipple chafing I had ever had (and a new found respect for what breast feeding mother’s must have to put up with!) that became painful during the race.  But that was nothing compared to the sting from a hot shower.

The next day I was in the bathroom at the hotel (picture this) standing in the front of the mirror applying lanolin with the index finger of each hand in a circular motion to my sore and red nipples.

At this point one of my (then) teenage sons walked past  – stopped, did a double take looked at me shook his head and walked off.   You’ll be pleased to know he’s finished therapy now and his Doctor says he should be fine.

My solution to avoid this painful malady (and avoid further childhood memories for my son’s to repress), I wear a compression top (thanks for the tip Rakesh) and have never suffered again.  Also, you get the added benefit of faster recovery by wearing a compression top.  I had tried using sticking plaster or band aids as well as applying Vaseline, but the compression top is my preferred and (so far) fail proof option.

Now, there is another form of chafing Grasshopper, which is rarely discussed – butt chafing.  “What the? “ I hear you ask… yes you heard me right, butt chafing.  Now this normally only occurs from long distance runs, but can occur on shorter runs too.  “How so master?” I hear you asking.  Well Grasshopper let me explain.

When you have two lumps of flesh rubbing together being progressively covered in sweat, which as it dries turns into salt, there is a strong probability of chafing.  You may not notice it while running, but believe me when I say you will know all about it when the hot water from the shower hits the spot.

Rather than elaborate, there is a brilliant posting on a blog I follow by Shelby Van Pelt, which you have to read.   Link here http://www.eatdrinkandrun.com/2011/04/05/hot-cheek-on-cheek-action/

As with other chafing, be it groin, under arm or other unmentionable places, butt chafing can be managed.  Make sure the running gear you wear is a good fit and does not rub.  Avoid cotton or materials that retain moisture and will exacerbate rubbing.

If it has the potential to cause chafing, apply Bodyglide, Vaseline or a petroleum jelly type lubricant to the area of friction to reduce rubbing.  Make sure the lubricant is water resistant otherwise it will wash away quickly and you’ll be little more than a sticky mess with chafing.

Better still; don’t use ill-fitting gear for running, save it for the gym or a sport when there is going to be minimal rubbing, or for washing your car.  By wearing compression gear under shirts and shorts I have been able to eliminate any clothing related chafing and I am an advocate for the benefits of compression tops (a subject for another post).

Last, but most importantly stay well hydrated.

So Grasshopper, you now know that runner’s experience chafing and sometimes in places not fit for discussion in mixed company.  But chafing is but a small inconvenience on the path to Running Nirvana.

If you have a specific question about the potential pitfalls of running, ask away.  More of what you aren’t told about running in my next post.

Hang on, almost forgot!  A quick update on training for the Gold Coast Marathon with only 9 weeks to go!  So far so good, still mainly injury free except for a problem toe that now has a black nail and is heavily calloused, not overly painful, but pretty ugly …. Too much information?  Yeah you’re probably right.

It’s an old injury from last year’s marathon that flares up at about the 17-18km mark of a run.  Could be interesting when I get to the 3 hour training runs in the next few weeks.

And to the Victorian Police who have posted a sign up on the Eastlink train that I run, no need to worry guys – just check out my running times.  But it has got me wondering who the hell is running down this trail ….. Usain Bolt???

I’m running a minimum of a half marathon every weekend now with hill’s torture, I mean training, intervals, time trials and good solid runs in between.  Check out the links from Endomondo below.

11.4km in just over an hour

23.4km in just under two and a quarter hours

I haven’t included the run going up and down a ridiculously steep hill, dragging Missy the golden retriever with OCD.  Pretty boring but tough.  We were both exhausted at the end of that session.

This week includes intervals and a comfortable one-hour run.  As I have the Puffing Billy Great Train Race this weekend I’m not intending to push it too hard.  While the race is really only part of the preparation for the Gold Coast – you never know what can happen on the day if I think I can beat the train and get a rush of blood.

For those not familiar with the Puffing Billy race – it’s about 13.2km pretty much all up hill.  This is my 5th time.  I’ll post an update after the race on Sunday letting you know if once again I’ve been whipped by an antiquated steam train loaded up with tourists and supporters. 🙂

By the way, my top 5 running songs from the past week or so from my running playlist are:

Break on Through – by The Doors  – such a great song.
Dreaming – by Blondie
The Bitter End – by Placebo
Face Down – by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Calm Down – by Killing Heidi

Happy Running!!

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4 Responses to What runners don’t tell you about running…..

  1. RunningFarce says:

    Haha, good post! The reason we don’t discuss chafing with newbies is because we prefer not to think about it ourselves!

  2. shelby says:

    Haha, thanks for the shout out!

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