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Thursday 26 February 2015

4 Horsemen of Running Apocalypse: Itching, Chafing, Blisters & Poo

It is fairly widely known that there are 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Yes, everyone knows that, right? War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. 

4 Horsemen. Source
But did you know there are 4 Horsemen of Running?
  • Itching
  • Chafing
  • Blisters
  • Poo

These are all unpleasant in their own way and who hasn't been in a situation where your pants are riding up, your trousers are riding down and there’s a label itching away and pretending to be a strip of sandpaper? What is it about running that means that there is always something itching or being annoying? And usually in some place you can't really sort out in public?

And the law of running means that when this happens there will ALWAYS a crowd of people behind you. It could be the rest of your running club, a horde of runners in a race or simply a busy bus stop. When is it appropriate to simply stick your hand down your pants and sort it all out?

I imagine the Mr-Average-In-The-Street might not get away with sorting out their underwear in public but we’re runners. We can run away when the screaming starts, right?

But it’s not always as easy to sort out as a quick rummage. Chafing is sneaky. Quite often this goes unnoticed during the actual running but waits until you step into the shower before digging barbs into your unsuspecting, flayed flesh. As if sandpapering your nipples off wasn’t enough, Chafe appears in the most awkward places. Underarms? Thighs? Undercarriage? Sneaky, sneaky chafing.

And I’m sure every runner has suffered the irritating sore, itching pain that is a blister that out of nowhere on a previously unmarred foot, has popped up to ooze and irritate. And stick your sock to your foot with blister-pus.

And Poo. If Poo was a person he’d be a traffic warden. Poo waits until long runs in the country when the nearest toilet is 11 miles and 2 massive hills away. Or else the 2nd to last speed interval, where he asks you whether you’re a gambler. Go find a loo now and leave your run session unfinished. Or finish it and gamble with The Brown Shorts of Shame.

There's a distinctive lurching gait usually accompanied by a staring, thousand-yard stare when a runner is desperate to get home and is moving as fast as they can without soiling their lycra. It’s a terrible, terrible Catch 22 situation. The faster you move, the more you need to 'go' but if you go slow or walk, you won’t make it home in time. Speed Vs Time. Do you feel lucky today? And can you face your neighbours tomorrow if you misjudge it and have to return a wave with brown thighs and a stiff-legged walk.

If you’ve been running any length of time then you’ve probably encountered one or more of these Horsemen already. They're like headlice at primary school. Sooner or later they WILL happen to you.

They’re waiting for you and The Horsemen, like black toenails will appear out of nowhere. All you can do is arm yourself with the available weapons: a liberal application of Vaseline, a generous wad of loo roll & plasters and a practised high-speed zombie shuffle and the location of the nearest loo.


  1. I just gave my nose a coffee enema due to laughing. I hope you're happy.

    My least favourite is chafing- my inner thighs hate each other. Though to be fair I have never had a poo issue. Stomach of steel!

    Snot is the 5th secret horseman but luckily I have no qualms about a) snot rocketing or b) wiping it on my gloves/neckline of vest... and so on.

    1. But you'll be able to smell the lovely aroma of coffee all day now! You're welcome.

      Ouch - yes! I had that at Bacchus marathon, thigh chafe. I had to drink more wine to stop my suffering. Cough.

      Snot? You can snot rocket. You MUST teach me! Guest post please: A 'How To'.

  2. The chafing BURNS. My sports bras seem to take objection to being worn AGAIN and have started attacking me everywhere....Also it annoys me how you cannot judge what kind of chafing impact a specific pair of shorts will have until you have been chafed. Vaseline is my best friend.
    You know what's really bad....when your rucksack chafes on your neck and it looks like a lovebite. FOR WEEKS!

    1. Yes! I totally get that too! Another reason I have to wash my kit after each run (some people seem to be able to wear theirs for 2 or 3!) but if I wear items without washing - the chafing! Oh the chafing! Ha ha - brilliant!! ... love bite from your rucksack!! :)

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