Hi readers! I’m Ali, from Ali on the Run (http://aliontherun.wordpress.com) and I’m excited to guest blog for Leslie.
I started running about two and a half years ago, soon after I graduated college, got a job and moved to NYC. I couldn’t afford to join a gym, so I threw on my sneakers (not running shoes—they were super heavy and awful to run in) and hit the road.
It didn’t take long for me to discover that famous runner’s high and become addicted.
I ran my first race—the Fitness Mind, Body & Spirit 4-mile run in Central Park—in September 2008, and soon thereafter signed up for a 1/2 Marathon in Napa Valley. I’ve since completed two more 1/2 Marathons and regularly run 3-7 miles daily, plus a long run on the weekends.
So I may not be a professional runner by any standards—though my current girl crush is Shalane Flanagan—but I have definitely encountered my share of running troubles over the past few years.
Here’s my list of “The Top 10 Worst Things That Can Happen On Your Run” and, of course, how I deal with them.
1 – You’ve gotta go: Yup. This tops the list. It’s not pretty and it’s not something a lot of people want to talk about, but let’s get real with each other. It sucks when you get psyched up for a run, whether it’s 2 miles or 12, and your bowels start kicking. Sure if you’re on a treadmill, you can hop off and use the gym bathroom. But if you’re running outside, particularly on a trail or in a park, you could be pretty screwed. This isn’t always preventable, but my best advice is this: give yourself plenty of time before you go out for a run.
I used to rush myself out the door in the morning because I was pressed for time, but I almost always had to make a pit stop at Chelsea Piers to spend some time in their convenient public restroom. Let your stomach wake up slowly and don’t leave the house until you’ve, uh, done your business. Also, plan your route accordingly. I have Crohn’s Disease, which is, in short, a nasty digestive disorder. I try to go for runs in places where I know there will be restrooms available to me. That way, when the urge hits, I can take care of it.
2. You get lost: I run with iPhone, which luckily doubles as an iPod. It’s bigger and bulkier than my cute little iPod Shuffle, but with its built-in GPS, I never worry that I won’t be able to find my way home. Also, if something does happen, I can always make a phone call to get some help. If I’m unfamiliar with a new city, I’ll use MapMyRun (www.mapmyrun.com) to plan my route before I leave the house, then write it down or store it in my phone.
3. Ouch! Cramping: When I first started running, I got “side stitches” all the time. I trained with a running coach through Team Challenge (www.ccteamchallenge.org) and he told me that, as soon as the cramping started, I should lie flat on the ground (beware of runners behind you so you don’t become a speed bump!) and the cramp will go away. Admittedly I never tried that method, but ever since I started focusing more on regular breathing while I run, I haven’t gotten cramps. Finding a steady, comfortable in-and-out rhythm keeps the cramps at bay.
4. You lose your running buddy: This happening to me and my boyfriend once while we were out for a run (needless to say I didn’t react well to this—I totally freaked out, poor guy). Our paces differed enough for there to be a big gap between us and we misunderstood our meeting spot. Neither of us had our phones on us, so I was literally running all over the west side of Manhattan trying to find him (and crying, hehe). A simple fix for this problem: Be very clear about your meeting spot and run with your phones.
5. Chafing: It’s so sexy, right? Obviously Body Glide is a wonderful invention. But the other fix for this problem, whether you’ve got thigh chafing, arm chafing or under-boob chafing (that’s the sexiest kind, don’t you think?), invest in running clothes that fit you well. I was running in the wrong size sports bra for so long and couldn’t figure out why I was constantly chafing. It looked cute, so what was the problem? Once I went a size smaller, the chafing stopped. You spend so much time in your running gear—make sure it suits you.
6. You’re dehydrated: I fear drinking too much before I go out for a run because I don’t want to have to stop and pee. But having to stop and pee is better than having to stop and pass out. Drink up, people. Don’t over hydrate, but get something in your body, especially if you’re going to be running for a while.
7. The weather is bad: In the northeast, it can go from 60-and-sunny to 40-and-thunder storming in minutes. Check the extended forecast before you leave the house and learn to love layers. If you get hot, take your jacket off. If it starts to rain, but it back on. Also, be mindful of the terrain you’re on during unpredictable weather. Rain, snow and especially freezing rain can lead to super-slick roads. You’re probably better off choosing the treadmill (or the couch—you deserve a break!).
8- It’s crowded: I went for a run in Central Park during this year’s breast cancer walk. What was I think? I got trampled by all the walkers. It was incredibly stressful but I was too stubborn to run somewhere else. Now, I always check the New York Road Runners website (nyrr.org) for races happening in the park, as well as general city-wide event calendars that might indicate races, walks, parades or events happening on streets that will affect my route. Plan, plan, plan!
9. You get injured: Another reason to run with your phone, as well as a RoadID. Whether you trip on a sidewalk or get punched in the face (laugh, but it actually happened to my cousin’s friend once—scary), go home. Call an ambulance if you’re very injured, but don’t push it. Better to shorten your run once than to be forced to shorten them forever due to a pulled something-or-other.
10 – You lose your house/apartment key: My buddy used to tuck his key underneath his shoelaces before going for a run. One day it slipped out and he had to retrace his steps—all six miles of them—in the crowded park, staring at the ground. Brutal, right? Either loop your key into your laces before tying them or keep it in a zippered-pocket. And don’t forget to zip it!
So there you have it—my running troubles and my amateur solutions. Running is so much fun, and it’s tough enough as it is, so whatever you can to avoid any added troubles or trauma – just do it!
What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to you on a run? How did you deal with it?