Running is easy, right? Right leg, left leg ... and repeat! NO! STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!! There are a set of rules – unwritten until now – that require careful adherence. Should you flout these rules, you will get leg-humped by a Rottweiler on your next run while being get chafed under the armpits by your new cotton t-shirt and having to fling your boobs over your shoulder. Read on ....
The Running Rules:
1. No Mucus on Fellow Runners!
Absolutely no snot rockets without checking that your mucus isn’t going to land on someone first. I can’t do these. And I am deeply envious of all those who can. But I still don’t want your bogies in my face. Check there isn’t someone running behind you before you expectorate. Otherwise bad things happen. Usually to the person behind you.
2 Poo Rule.
This is pretty self explanatory ... I hope. There isn’t much worse than getting to a crucial part of a race and needing to ‘go’. Unless it is actually ‘going’. Sort this out before the race starts. And just to be safe. Go twice.
3. Thou Shalt Not Break Thy Fellow Runner’s nose.
Absolutely no elbowing in races. I don’t care if you think you should be in front. Go around. This isn’t a triathlon!
4. Bottom Burps.
Farting is fine. Just ignore it. Or have an ‘inside giggle’ in your head. Yes, I still have the maturity of a 6 year old, yes I think farting is still pretty funny. But we all do it. And even more so when we run. Just think of it as being gas powered. Your very own Methane Motor. It’s almost like sponsorship by British Gas.
5. Don’t be a sad clown.
Don’t run with a full face of makeup. It’ll melt in the heat, run in your sweat and you’ll look the melty one off Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s not a good look and the race photographers will capture it and it will be on the internet FOREVER.
6. Strap the Girls Down.
Use a decent sports bra. You won’t regret investing in a decent bra. Or don’t. When you can swing your girls over your shoulder you’ll wish you had.
7. Budgeting for Blisters.
Don’t use cheap socks - life is too short for avoidable blisters. You forget how much they hurt until you get one at mile 3 and still have to finish the race. It’s the small miseries that can ruin an otherwise good day. And it really hurts to peel your sock off of a dried blister.
8. Toenails are for Wimps.
You WILL lose a toenail. I thought I was the exception to this rule. Now they’re falling like bodypart confetti. Keep the superglue handy. Or paint your skin where toenails should be. It fools no-one but it makes you feel better about your leprous feet.
9. Always Carry Loo Roll
It’s like some bizarre running initiation rite. At some point, you’ll realise that you crossed the line and that weeing in hedges while out for a run is now seen as normal. Just don’t stretch it to your neighbours rose bushes. They get funny about this. And call Neighbourhood Watch meetings and everything. Spoilsports.
10. Canine Crazy Beasts.
Dogs are mental crazy beasts. They may be usually well-trained and well-behaved animals – you may even own one yourself and love Spot with all your heart. But they see a runner and turn crazy. It’s like they forget you are 3 times their size and wearing running shoes. Maybe it’s the combination of neon and Deep Heat, but they can’t resist chasing a runner. Avoid them if you can ... and their owners who will be calling “Oh he’s just playing!” as their uncontrolled canine mauls you to death and trots off with your severed arm.
|My elbow after tripping over a Canine Crazy Beast. It was karma … story here|
11. Bin bags are the Biz
Get comfortable with looking like a bag lady. Everyone wears bin bags at the start of races. Its de rigueur you know. And when else can you walk around dressed like the inside of a wheelie bin? Embrace Trash Chic.
12. Neon not Ninja.
Runners need to be seen especially when running on the road. There are enough drivers who are completely oblivious to other road users – and this isn’t even counting the ones doing their makeup, checking Twitter or having a good scratch. For the purposes of being seen, neon is good. Runners dressed in black and camouflage like some bizarre running ninja don’t last long. It’s Darwinism but with cars and trainers.
13. Counselling with other Runners.
Don’t scare the normal people! You’ll discover that your significant other doesn’t want to hear about your sweat rash, PBs or rusty safety pins. Luckily, it’s perfectly fine to discuss negative splits, poo and manky toenails with other runners. We GET this.
14. Walking During Races is OK.
Don’t feel bad if you have to walk in a race. We’ve ALL been there. Just walk to one side. The rest of us are on for a PB you know.
15. Selfie Sin.
Do NOT stop in front of me in a race to take a selfie. I WILL cut you. Well... maybe make a cutting remark. If I can think of one by the end of the race. Just don’t, ok?
16. Perfecting the Zombie Runner Look
Race photographers are not your friends. They do NOT exist to capture your moment of glory crossing the race finishing line. They take photos for their own amusement and revel in every photo of a runner with an expression of pain, with poo running down his leg, crying at the humiliation. Get used to it. Your pictures will look crap. Except for 1 photo in every 150. Make sure you BUY this one as you’ll have to wait approximately another 25 races for another decent one. If by some fluke all your race pics look good ... you weren’t running hard enough. Or you’re this guy.
|Ridiculously photogenic guy (photo by Will King. Source)|
17. Trainer Timing.
There is about a 50 mile slot when your new trainers will be worn in and comfortable enough for the marathon and after which they will butcher and eat your feet. You have to try and time it so your race falls in this period of time. Good luck with that. You can always superglue your toenails back on.
18. Blistering, Suppurating Pus.
Blisters are a fact of running-life. You will never be free from blisters. You will get the combinations of sock and trainer exactly right but every now and then one will pop up. Learn to deal with them and when to get help. Clear pus isn’t much to worry about but if it’s cloudy get yourself to the local chemist or doctor and be prepared to share your manky runner’s feet.
19. Trim those Toenails.
Unless you like the ends of your trainers covered in blood and your toes looking as though they’ve survived a slasher movie, then cut your toenails before a race. 2 days seems to be the magic time as if you cut them too short, there’s time for them to heal. Also paint your toenails violet. It stops you worrying about black toenails as you won’t be able to see what colour they’ve turned and when they fall off, it will be like a mini flaky parma-violet present.
20. Hairy Horror.
Long flowing hair looks cool in running magazine pictures. It doesn’t work in real life much as they’d like you to believe it. Think plastered-to-forehead, sweaty, hot and rat tails. Not good. Tie it up.
21. Technology is Your Friend ... until race day.
How reliable your Garmin has been up until race day will be a direct correlation to how unreliable it will be ON race day. Well-behaved GPS device? Be wary. It’s been luring you into a false sense of security. And if it has the opportunity, it will go wrong on race day. Learn what combinations of buttons make it ‘reset’. Preferably BEFORE the race day.
22. Bottoms up.
You will get holes in the back of your running shorts. Check for these BEFORE running. You don’t want to be winking at the person running behind you. Using your arse.
23. Run Junkie.
Marathons are addictive and you’re unlikely to stop at one. No idea why. They’re often painful, horrendous and miserable. See race pictures for proof. However, your first 26.2 will set off some sort of chain reaction which involves long periods of having no toenails and no social life.
24. NOT being able to eat all the food.
The cruellest running rule is that you will probably put on weight during marathon training. It’s unfair and just one more Sods Law to chalk up next to ‘manky feet’, ‘teetotalism’ and ‘addiction to energy gels’. Yes - you SHOULD be able to eat all the food. No – you can’t stop it. Put the crème eggs down.
25. Injured Soldier.
Injuries will happen. Whether you go down the dramatic route and fall down a mineshaft while out for a 35 mile training run or simply get a tight ITB from the weight of all your race medals, this WILL happen. Get yourself to a physio ASAP. Don’t run on it no matter how tempting. This almost NEVER works.
26. But it’s only ...
Your first short race after a marathon will probably be a PB. No-one knows why but it is probably something to do with your legs screaming “It’s only 6 miles! We don’t have to run another 20.2 after this!!! Wooo hooooooooo!!!”
And last but not least
27. Play the odds.
You don’t have to abide by all of these rules ... guidelines ... but it is worth keeping one or two in mind – especially before a race. A lot of running is about your training, your talent and your mindset, but you have to play the odds too ... For instance don’t go to an all-you-can –eat chilli night before a race, always carry loo roll when you run and don’t forget to wave at other runners. They might be the ones to pull you out of the ditch when you trip over your own shoelaces.
We run for all sorts of reasons; fitness, medals, PBs, run streak or simply for enjoyment. One reason is not better than any other and you might not agree with the other runner’s mindset but it’s their running and their reasons. A mile is a mile. 15 minute/miles or 5 minute/miles. And besides ... we all like a bit of bling or a hideous race photo for the mantelpiece.
What have I missed out? Any other rules (cough, guidelines!) that should be in this list?
This post is dedicated to Rach and Bear. Rach – who specifically asked what the Run Rules were for her first race and Bear who insists he’s not a runner. Although we all know he is.