Runners are awesome. Runners are cool. When you're running, you know deep down that as people drive by they're thinking, Wow. That person has it all together. I wish I did. But you also know, deep down, that if those same people could hear runners talking to each other, they might start laughing at you instead.
“Did you find a polish that'll cover those black toenails?”
“Remember the time you wet on yourself?”
“How're you doing with that backne (back acne)?”
“Are your nipples still sore?”
“Boy, that was some case of the trots (uhh...digestive woes) I had.”
Yes, serious running has some serious side effects. Experienced runners soon learn the tricks to prevent many of them, and then they learn how to deal with the rest with grace. But if you're a new runner”especially in a team environment like The Grand Teton Relay”it's especially helpful if somebody mentions the unmentionables before you encounter them firsthand. It's ok! We're not embarrassed. Our Idaho Falls hospital knows the tricks of the trade!
Trouble Down Under
“Runner's trots” is the term for the diarrhea, gas, and digestive troubles that can plague runners during a distance event like the GT Relay. Muscles hard at work when you run divert blood from the digestive tract, so proper digestion gets interrupted. Runners can find themselves in a sudden and desperate hunt for a relief station.
Eating properly and staying hydrated are the keys to minimizing problems. Avoid large meals the day before the race, and stay away from foods high in protein or fiber (right before the race of course). Graze instead on simpler carbohydrates, and drink lots of fluid before and during the relay to help your digestive tract move things along more easily. If trouble does strike, don't panic. Just slow down a bit and make sure you're hydrated.
Be aware that actual nausea, though, is a symptom of heat stress. Learn the symptoms and seek help at one of the medical tents if you start to recognize them in yourself or another runner.
Drinking all that fluid, though, can cause its own problems, particularly for women. Muscles needed to control urine flow weaken with age and childbirth, and women can find themselves with wet shorts or socks without warning. Don't, under any circumstances, reduce your intake of fluid out of fear of embarrassment! Instead, wear a urine protection pad while running. (Well lubricated along the edges, of course.)
Acne on the upper arms, chest, and upper back (the much-ridiculed “backne”) is common for runners. Pore-clogging sweat, combined with friction from rubbing clothes, is largely to blame. Makeup and sunscreen can make the problem worse. Before running, avoid wearing makeup and look for an oil-free sunscreen intended for the face and neck. After, change out of sweaty clothes and shower as soon as possible. You may want to use a soap designed to combat acne.
And finally, our faithful, hardworking feet sometimes have to suffer cosmetic consequences. Toes that rub constantly against the front of the shoe may suffer blood blisters under the nail. Because the blister can't breathe, it takes longer to heal. The nail turns black and, as a new nail grows in, it eventually falls off. Make sure your running shoes give your toes plenty of room. Keep your toenails closely trimmed, and be sure to wear good wicking socks (not cotton).
Chafing, plain and simple, is the irritation that comes from rubbing. Prevention is your best defense. Check out our blog post about chafing to know where to start. If you use these tips from the experts at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, but come home sore anyway, it's all about the diaper rash ointment, baby (no pun intended!)”it can soothe irritated spots and help you heal faster.
Remember, running is a triumph! You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Those people driving by are right: You are pretty amazing.