Running is not glamourous. When you run, you will generally experience sweating, chafing, sweating, heavy breathing, sweating, spitting, sweating, swearing, sweating, burping, sweating, farting and sweating.
Shall we start with the sweating? As the queen of yo-yo dieting, I have attempted a veritable array of exercise classes: aerobics, aquarobics, body pump, body tone, body sculpt, boxercise, dancercise, salsacise, hot yoga, cool yoga, just right yoga, none of which have made me sweat like running does.
Put it like this, rookie runners wear grey bottoms and it doesn’t take long before an accidental sideways glance in a shop window at the end of a run will have them converting to black faster than you can say “sweaty arse”. I didn’t even realise that my arse could sweat, let alone sweat in such abundance.
Another nasty side effect is, there’s no way to put this politely, wind. When you run, your body is basically bouncing up and down. Imagine that your body is a bottle of fizzy pop. When you shake the bottle of fizz: danger! So, when you shake your body: danger! Without doubt, from one end or other, wind will come out. If you see a runner look behind them surreptitiously for no good reason, I’ll bet good money that it’s because they are seeing if anyone is within hearing distance of a fart.
Until I became a runner, I would encounter runners whilst out and about and it didn’t occur to me to move out of their way when they headed in my direction. I thought “they’re running, they’re fit and active, they can move out of my way”. No, no, no, no, no. This is most definitely not the case, it is taking that runner every ounce of their strength to put one foot in front of each other and move forward in a straight line. When faced with an unexpected obstacle that involves changing direction, the runner is momentarily stunned. This feeling is closely followed by dismay. The runner has to summon up extra effort, take a few more steps and run around the obstruction when all they want to do is get home so that they can stop running.
Getting to the end of a run is the goal that every runner is aiming for, no matter what. I ran the Brighton Half Marathon in February 2011 and after about mile six I realised that I needed a wee, I thought I could carry on, I just wanted to finish the race. As time went on, my need for a wee became more urgent but there were no toilets on the part of the route that I was running and I just wanted to get to the end. If changing direction is difficult, then stopping, having a wee and starting to run again is a hundred times worse. A thought occurred to me: “I’m wearing black bottoms, I could just wee whilst running, no-one will ever know”.
And that is when I realised that I’d lost all dignity. If I was out shopping or at work, or sitting on a bus, nothing in a million years would possess me to contemplate wetting myself and yet, set me off in trainers and lycra and it seems like a serious option.
Oh and for the record, just in case you were worried…