For my first foray into the world of blogging, I thought it would be fun to shed a little insight into how the act of running has allowed me to grow as an individual. I started running seriously almost four years ago, and in that time I have been exposed to things and people I never thought imaginable!
So, without further ado, here is the first, in what I hope is a series, of “10 lists” highlighting those discoveries:
I hate to be “Captain Obvious” here, but it really is true. I used to smoke (I know I just offended everyone, but it was a different time then) and I was an extremely skinny kid. Right when I quit I weighed only about 145lbs, which standing at roughly 6 feet tall, I was essentially a walking skeleton. Fast forward a few months later, and I ballooned by nearly 50 lbs. I was pushing a weight on the scale that I thought I would never see. Once I crossed that threshold, I knew it was time for a change. Running allowed me to get down to a more manageable and healthy weight and maintain it. Once I started adding distance, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility to be burning over 2,000 calories per session! Which, for those doing the math at home, allowed me to keep a lifestyle of drinking beer and eating junk. After all, I don’t want to get too ripped, I’m proud of my “Dad Bod!”
When you start seriously getting into running, you start shopping at running stores. You start with the basics: running shoes, running apparel, a cool bumper sticker to tell the world that you run, etc… But, then you come across some stuff that just blows your mind! I’ll never forget the first day I stumbled upon a box labeled “nip guards.” I thought, “they have got to be kidding! Who buys these things? Why do they exist?” Then you have that run where you understand why they exist. You come home, nipples aflame, with no remedy in the medicine cabinet, and you wish you had picked up that box rather than ridiculing those that do. Then you meet someone like Jackey who detests the word “nip” (oh and panties, but that’s a topic for another day)!
8. Running on a treadmill is much harder
I know I am probably in the minority here, and this is definitely a personal opinion, but running on a treadmill sucks! No way around it! I mean, I ran a marathon a few months ago, but can hardly muster the ability to do a simple mile on the treadmill. It just isn’t the same. Plus, running outdoors really allows me to space out and clear my head. When I am running in place I am too concerned about slipping and being shot backward probably causing injury, but even more so, a gym full of people pointing and laughing at me. I’ll take running outside, up hill, in the freezing cold any day (just as long as it isn’t raining; see: Broad St.). Plus, I get to show off my “Dad Bod” to the public!
7. Podcasts are the best playlist
I don’t care who you are, whatever playlist you are playing at the gym, or on a run, or on a road trip is predominately full of the same music you have been listening to for the past 20 years. Don’t get me wrong, I love it all, but I definitely get tired of it. There are only so many times you can take “MMMBop.” No matter how much I try to focus a particular playlist, I spend most of the time skipping through the songs. Which, I don’t want to do while running. Also, moods change, so the music changes, and it isn’t always easy to marry the two. Then came the day I discovered the wonderful world of podcasts. Back then, it was still a relatively new medium, but it was growing, and fast. Now you can find a podcast about anything, so no matter what your preferences are, there is a podcast for you. My podcast tastes skew mostly towards Walt Disney World, and I will talk about the ones I like at a later time. Heck, you can even learn something, which makes running a healthy and educational hobby! So subscribe to some podcasts to truly broaden your horizons (and be sure to add the Joyful Miles one once we figure that out).
I sometimes feel like everyone runs now. Going out for my training runs I will see no less than a dozen other runners out there with me. You start going to races, and you really feel like all of the world is running. Which is a fantastic thing, because that means there are runners of all different running ability, body types, genders, and age groups from all over the world. Once you start, you will need as much support as possible, and the running community really wants to help you (for the most part). There are most likely a lot of running groups right in your backyard, and you don’t even know it. Log onto a computer, and you have literally millions in running groups from around the world. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a few crazy girls, make a lot of dumb videos with them, and start a blog!
Once you meet those crazy girls, you’ll want to travel with them around the world to run races. I mean, I had to find a job that allowed me more vacation time just to do so. I know, it’s crazy, take a vacation just to run a race. It’s really more than that though. Races become the excuse to plan a trip, and the miles that happen as a result of those trips are truly joyful (see what I did there?)! Also, if you are going to run a marathon, you might as well do it with people that make it fun. It really is amazing just how many races are out there now, and at all different levels. Get out there and travel the world with complete strangers!
4. Running is expensive!
You would think something as simple as running would be cheap. Simply go outside and run. However, it’s not that simple! You start by getting properly fitted for a pair of running shoes that cost easily north of $100. Then you start buying clothes, and accessories (don’t forget the nip guards), and now you are easily north of $1000. You start running races, and that is where the money really starts to add up. Race fees are huge most of the time, and I don’t necessarily mean for one race. Yes, we are primarily hooked on runDisney races where it isn’t crazy to plop a few hundred down on entry fees for a race weekend. Local races can be much cheaper, but start running as many as you can and it adds up. Start traveling, like to those Walt Disney World races, and it gets crazy expensive. I’ve run out of kidneys and other marketable body parts to hock. So start saving now, or better yet, come and see me (I’m a banker if you didn’t know).
All of those exorbitant entry fees usually lead to the ultimate prize: a nice, shiny medal at the finish! This is why we plop thousands to run Disney races because the medals are that good! RunDisney has even started a series of virtual races with their own medals that are available, for a fee of course. Which is, again, another topic for later. I hate to sound like a snob, especially where a lot of races benefit charities, but I hate running races without medals now. It’s like a drug, I need that rush, and I won’t stop until I find it! Although, a lot of smaller races have truly upped their game in the medal department. One of my nicest medals came from a local half-marathon last year, which was a fairly affordable race to run. Seriously though, come see me. Have I mentioned I am a banker yet?
2. Peeing and Pooping is a major concern
Newsflash: we talk a lot about poop here, so if you are easily offended, too late! I have never examined my pee any more than once I started running. Staying hydrated to have that nice clear pee has become quite the obsession, especially on race day. I also haven’t had to worry about pooping my pants since I was a kid until I started running longer races. OK fine, there was that one time. Ask any of the other ladies here and they will all tell you their greatest fear is (Spoiler Alert!) pooping themselves during a race. You get to the point that you almost psych yourself out and suffer from performance anxiety on race day. Not that I know anything about performance anxiety. You will also be shocked by the amount of runners that just drop trow out in the open along a race route. I have seen more butts and nether regions than I care to ever see in my life by running race.
I can’t stress this enough: you don’t need to be athletic, skinny, or fast to be a runner. When I started I could barely get through a mile. I still remember the day I finally crossed that first mile run, shins on fire, out of breath, and thinking, I’ll never be a runner. Well, this out of shape, asthmatic ex-smoker just ran his first marathon a few months ago. My wife, who also admittedly never thought of being a runner, has done countless 10Ks and is now preparing for the Disney Princess Challenge in 2019, which is a 10K and a half-marathon in two days. That’s why I really hate when people say, “I’m not a runner.” That’s crap, just go to a race. Like I said earlier, all of the world is running, so get going! Yes I am saying that everyone is doing it, so you should too. But, this is one instance where that is actually a good thing. So let’s all jump off that bridge together, and see the world for the wonderful place it really is. Just don’t forget the nip guards.