Things I Wish I Knew About Running (Before I Started)

It still amazes me that after almost 6 years of running, I’m still learning new things about this sport every day. Some of these things I wish someone had told me about before I started running. Not to deter me, but to warn me, in the gentlest way possible that…

You’re going to want talk about it. A LOT.

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You’re going to find yourself really excited about something running related: new sneakers, conquering a new distance, registration opening up for a race you’ve been dying to go to… BUT. Try to refrain from going on and on about it (much like I do here on this blog!). I’ve learned the hard way from some friends that talking about nothing but running all the time can be exhausting for those around you. I’ve actively tried to get better at this in the past year, but I’m still a major PITA with it. Just this morning I got all worked up over being assigned my Rock n Roll Brooklyn bib number and corral assignment…. and had to refrain from shouting it from the rooftops. I’m SUPER excited to take on this race. But my coworkers? Are not.

You’re going to chafe. A LOT.

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Do you see that girl up there? Do you know how CHAFED she is in that moment? I used to think I had the chafing game figured out: just keep the skin covered, go for longer length shorts in warm weather, use some chafe guard products when needed, boom. Problem solved. Then I ran an 11K race in a total monsoon and discovered that there are OH SO MANY MORE SPOTS to chafe in when it’s raining or you’re wet all over. Like your butt. And your lady parts. And… you get the gist. Let’s just say I screamed so loudly when the water hit my newly chafed spots during my post-race shower that housekeeping knocked on the hotel room door to make sure I was OK. I found myself at a corner bodega later that day desperately searching for diaper rash cream to smother basically my entire bathing suit area and allow me to walk without looking like I rode a horse across country. Something similar happened during the NYC Triathlon when I was running under firehoses and dumping cups and cups of water over my head to completely soak myself and stay cool on the run course. Lesson learned: water (in any form) + running = chafing.

It makes you hungry – but don’t use it as an excuse to eat!

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You’ve no doubt seen the articles out there about “runger” and how you’re going to want to #eatallthethings while you’re logging lots of miles. Being firmly in the “I LOVE FOOD” camp, this is one of the major reasons running first appealed to me: if I’m running all the miles, I get to eat all the food, right? WRONG. For a while I was all “I get an extra glass of wine at dinner and maybe dessert. Then I do it again Monday on a rest day, you know, for refueling purposes. And Tuesday I get dessert because I ran again!”And so on and so forth. Then I wondered why I couldn’t lose weight! Thanks to MyFitnessPal, I learned that all those extra calories weren’t necessarily being burned off, especially during rest days. Now I stay conscious of what I’m eating, what I’m burning, and pay closer attention to how certain foods affect my body and my performance. It’s trippy, but a good mix of veggies and fruits throughout the week really DO fuel you better than McDonald’s and Burger King all week. Go figure.

Cut your toenails.

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Before I ran, I was big into pedicures at the spa: sanding down my feet to baby softness and sculpting each toenail to beautiful perfection then walking away with a beautiful French pedicure? Ahh… Now? I’ve got to hack away at my feet in the privacy of my own home or else I pay the price. On the rare occasion I get a real pedicure, I have to tell the nail tech to put the sanding stick down – trim my nails next to nothing and leave the callouses please, I’ll end up with blisters if you sand them off. And don’t judge me for a third black toenail in 3 months. I picked a darker polish on purpose, just paint it. Oh and that pinkie toe where the nail fell off? Just paint the skin and give me the illusion of a toenail please. Don’t look at me like that, just paint it! Or if you don’t want to, paint 9 and give me a 10% discount for using less polish.

How about you – is there anything you’ve learned about running that you wish you’d known before? 

21 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Knew About Running (Before I Started)

  1. Hah! I used to think chafing from running was bad… till I started cycling. Dear God in Heaven. I still don’t use anything before a ride but hydrocortisone cream works wonders after. Heals me up in one day.

  2. You are so right. No one wants to hear about my splits, my running time, my new sneakers. Thank God I found a running group! The reactions from my friends after i ran my first half marathon (at age 53) still hurts, tho. no one mentioned it, so I did and they barely said “good for you”. Needless to say, we are no longer friends.

  3. I agree with the talking about running part. It’s sad but I have/had a really good friend that ignores all of my successes and accomplishments. I don’t really have many running buddies or people close by that are interested in running to share things with… but my husband is a really big supporter of all my accomplishments and efforts which helps.

    This can be a good and bad thing.. but I wish I knew how hyper-aware of my body I would become. I’m always noticing or paying attention to every little tweak/pull/sore/tightness. Also, when I started exercising and running I had no idea it would become such a major part of my life and fill a void I never knew I had. Running really has changed my life.

  4. I hear you on pretty much all these things, especially the chafing! I often do my long runs with a backpack on, and I’ve recently discovered that that leaves me with two symmetrical friction burns on my neck, which coincidentally look like hickies. I had to go to a party the other day (thankfully with a lot of runners) and greet people with “Hey! How’s it going?! These aren’t hickies, FYI!” Luckily they all found it amusing…

  5. All so true and to your point a lot of us like talking about it so much we write about it too, brilliant, then noone can complain because we are all interested in each others running stories anyway, else we wouldn’t be here! Yeah, wow, so many lessons learned I could probably write a list of a hundred or so…even after so many races including 10 fulls and 30+ halfs, I’m still learning…which is my way of saying yep, screwed that up again or can’t believe I forgot that, will get it next time!

  6. I wish I had known before i started…. That it didn’t matter how slow I was, other runners would still be supportive of me anyway! Though I do still make sure I’m signing up for races where there’s a history of folks in my pace area, before I started i was so nervous I’d be finishing alone, with no one cheering, and feeling like a loser. Most days I still run in the 11/12 min paces and have never felt like a loser yet, pretty sure I won’t 🙂

    • amen! It’s not about your speed, although it DOES help to have others at the back of the pack with you, I learned that the hard way after finishing a few races thinking I was dead last because there was NO ONE around me! You’re never a loser! ❤

  7. I totally forgot to clip my nails. One thing that I learned is wait until after your big race to get a pedi (mainly for me, it is about removing an accumulation of dead skin). All of that dead skin makes for a wonderful buffer. . . At least for me.

  8. LOL. This is the best post ever. The toenail thing is SPOT ON. My boyfriend thinks it’s hilarious that a black toenail or a missing toenail is no big thing and that I take pride in it. It just must be one of those quirky runner things. 🙂

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