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For all of running’s feel-good and healthy benefits, it does have some downsides. And these blights can be real no matter how long, or not, you’ve been lacing up. Instead of seeing them as roadblocks, though, look at them as obstacles or a hurdle to get around or over. Because when it comes to what makes a run average, good or great, it’s often all about your attitude.
If you’re just beginning a running or training program, you’re right, running can be hard, especially if you’re comparing it to lounging on the sofa. Think how much better that sofa will feel after a run. But seriously, it isn’t easy, which is why everyone doesn’t do it. The good news is that running gets progressively easier as your body becomes conditioned to the high impact and cardiovascular workout. And that takes time. Easing into a running program and consistency are two critical factors for helping your body adjust. Commit to running two to three days a week or every other day, adding days and miles as you adjust. Be sure to take walk breaks if needed, warm up with some dynamic stretching before each run, and run with a friend to hold you accountable.
The chafe is real
If you are lucky enough not to notice chafe during a run, there is nothing quite like the soul-searing feeling of a hot shower hitting raw skin. The key is to stop chafe before it begins. Look for seamless apparel or gear with flat and strategically placed seams. Lube early and often, in high-chafe areas at least. And ditch old gear when it begins to rub you the wrong way. Compression shorts, capris and tights are all helpful in minimizing the amount of fabric between your legs and reducing thigh chafe.
What’s up with my gut
Starting line port-o-johns are some of the nastiest you’ll experience. Chalk it up to early mornings and nervous excitement. But what about the insidious “runner’s trots” that happen even on normal days—they blow, quite literally. While every tummy is different, there are some things you can do to minimize the issue. Staying well hydrated, avoiding known belly irritants (like dairy, artificial sweeteners and excessive amounts of caffeine) and giving your body two to three hours to digest a pre-run meal may help to lessen problems. Otherwise, your best bet is to be prepared. Map out pit stops along your favorite running routes and, if you run with a pack, carry a few extra pieces of toilet paper, just in case.
Much like chafe, blisters can happen to any runner at any time—new shoes, a new shoe and sock combo, toenails trimmed or filed a different way, jungle hot and wet race conditions—take your pick. Avoidance is key, but sometimes blisters still happen. Finding smooth fitting socks that work with your feet is essential. As is taking care of your feet. Keep them moisturized, check for blisters and hot spots, pre treat with lubricant, bandages or blister treatment patches and address any issues before they get worse. One sure thing about blisters is that you can feel them coming on, meaning you have the opportunity to stop them before they stop you.
Wearing flip-flops all the time may not be the best bet for your feet, but there’s no denying how good they feel after peeling off sweaty running socks! At least until you catch a glimpse of your gnarly runner toes—lost, black and misshapen nails are commonplace among runners. But it doesn’t have to be the case. Think of the injuries as your tootsie’s way of asking for some TLC. First things first, make sure your shoes are big enough! Toes need room to spread and stretch. In addition to having at least half a thumb’s width to full thumb’s width of space between the end of your longest toe and the toe of your shoe, consider shoes with a wider toe box, especially if you’re having nail issues. Also keep your nails filed squarely to prevent toe bang and ingrown toenails (not only does it hurt like the devil, it’s also a quick way to lose a nail and possibly injure your nail bed).
As runs become longer and more frequent, it’s normal to feel more tired. Not just from the effort, but also because sleep is the best way for your body to recover from the increased stressors. It’s not to say you still can’t go out and dance the night away, but those nights are probably best saved for after a goal race instead of during a hard training phase. Also, remember to keep easy runs easy to enable your body to also recover on the go.
An insatiable appetite
Simple math says the more you run, the more calories you burn and the more calories your body will need. True, but you need to be smart about what you eat. Food is fuel for your body and your workouts. Nutritious choices can help you recover faster, give you the nutrients you need to nail a hard workout and make you feel better overall. Empty calories on the other hand (sugary sweets, a third slice of pizza or a double order of fries with cheese sauce) burn off quickly, leaving you hungrier than before and possibly bonking mid-run or race. Save the treats for after a big run when your body will actually appreciate the sugar and use it to top off glycogen stores.
The cost of entry for anything new can seem prohibitive. But running really isn’t that bad. With plenty of good shoes hovering around the $100 mark and smart shopping for apparel, you can easily be out the door for less than $200. Not only is that cheaper than a gym membership (or a couple dinner dates), running is also something you can do anytime and anywhere. Add in the fresh air and sunshine and it’s downright priceless.
The time it takes
Really? Try again. Time spent running is an investment in your health, and good health is everything. Sure, making long training runs fit in a busy schedule may take some planning. But you’ll feel much better post-run than if you spent those 2 to 3 hours binge watching The Walking Dead. Plus, you can still do that after you run.
Loads of laundry
No doubt, running clothes do make for an extra outfit every day, which sounds like a lot. But, in reality, it maybe adds up to one additional load of laundry a week. Just like with training, if you stay on top of it, it’s no big deal. You can even make it a workout by doing calf raises and squats while folding clothes.