Running is hard. It’s not working in a coal mine hard or being married to a Kardashian hard, but it certainly has its ups and downs. Each runner has their own unique set of hardships they must navigate in order to continue kicking ass and logging miles.
Here are five things that make my life as a runner more difficult than I’d like it to be.
There’s a reason they hand out medals at the end of races no matter where we finish. Completing any race is something to be proud of, regardless of the distance. If I’ve made it to the finish line, not only did I endure certain pain and fatigue to get there, but I had to do plenty of training just to be fit enough to run the race. And all that running isn’t easy, it’s hard.
If I was independently wealthy I’d live a carefree existence where I could run whenever I felt like it, casually logging miles anytime the mood struck me. Unfortunately, I am not wealthy. As such, I have to meticulously carve out time each week to get in my training runs. I’m a husband and a father with a full time job and a ridiculously long commute. This means scheduling early morning miles before work (which I’m not a fan of) and finding enough free time on both Saturday and Sunday for longer training runs.
Whatever hopes I had of becoming a foot model died the day I decided to participate in sports. Soccer and basketball began the work of destroying my toenails and running has finished the job. Most of my nails have fallen off or are blackened by the repetition of slamming my toes into the front of my sneakers repeatedly. My feet are so mangled and disgusting that my wife refuses to look directly at them. Sometimes she catches a glimpse out of the corner of her eye and shivers in fright.
I’m a heavy sweater. Seriously. Once during an indoor soccer game I came off the field and a teammate’s son asked me why I was all wet. His jaw dropped when I explained that all that water was sweat. When I finish a run, I’m equally soaked. I have to peel my pricey, state-of-the-art athletic gear from sticky body and hang it in the laundry room to dry. It doesn’t take long for this small space in our apartment to smell like a stinky shoe. Of course, this malodorous mess can’t be laundered conventionally. Certain compression garments must be soaked in white vinegar before eventually being machine washed with the rest of the foul-smelling clothing using Tide Sport, a specialty detergent that is both aptly named and overpriced.
Runners often push their bodies well beyond their comfort zones, and sometimes our bodies push back. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid injury, but I know it’s coming. It’s not ‘if’ as much as it is ‘when.’ For my wife, ‘when’ started a few years ago. A bad hamstring injury set her back and completely upended her running and ever since she’s been struggling to regain her form. As a 41-year-old, I know that every time I strap on my shoes and hit the road I run the risk of pulling, popping or spraining something. And when that day arrives, I’m going to be a miserable SOB.
Running’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be. In fact, it’s probably the baggage it brings with it that draws us like a moth to its big, bright flame. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing and we’d have less justification for annoying our friends on social media with our well-earned triumphs. The true value of running comes not simply from setting new PRs but from overcoming myriad obstacles that could potentially prevent us from reaching these milestones.
But as much as I relish these opportunities, it would be nice to have attractive toenails again.