On the Run: Week 6

Running is gross.

  • Days Until Anthem Richmond Marathon: 42
  • Miles Run: 235.41
  • Gross Outs: Too many to count

Nike commercials that make you reach for the Kleenex, Olympic victories complete with national anthems and tearful athletes, fancy West End ladies in lululemon skirts. There are so many different ways to be inspired to run.

But inspiration can be falsely glamourous. Heck, even blood and sweat look good on rippling muscles and long stretches of sinew.

I, however, began running as a 215 pound 40-year-old who hadn’t done anything more taxing than getting off the couch in a long, long time. So while I didn’t expect a gold medal, I also didn’t exactly expect the things that I do go through on my runs. Because what commercials and Olympians and spandex don’t tell you is that running can be gross.

For instance, stories of pooping while jogging, aka the “runner’s trots” (classy name, no?), abound, but I’m more frequently a victim of the runner’s drips, or, just plain peeing my pants.

Maybe it’s a lady thing. Maybe it’s a 40-year-old lady thing. Maybe it’s a 40-year-old lady who comes from a long line of sagging bladders tacked up with transvaginal mesh and hope thing. All I know is, I get up in the morning, stick around the house until I’ve urinated at least three times, then, as soon as I hit the street, I’ve gotta go. Again.

And I do. Sometimes, before I’m ready, meaning I’m innocently running along and the urge to pee hits at the same time as the relieving starts. Sometimes, I have a little bit of warning and can pick a lawn, sit down on it, and pretend to tie my shoes while simultaneously undoing the hard work the homeowner has done all summer to keep the grass from turning brown. Sorry Monument Avenue, I owe you some Miracle-Gro.

Oh, and running also brings out the worst in my nostrils. Literally. For some reason, when the running starts, well, the running starts. My nose leaks like a faucet in a cheap motel, and I have to desperately search for a place to wipe it before I get a mouthful. Runner’s websites suggest shooting “snot rockets,” which basically involve pressing one nostril shut and blowing hard, expelling the offending mucus. Those websites are also careful to mention that you should blow back and away, to avoid hitting your own shoe. But, I just can’t do that. Instead, I classily pull the front of my shirt up to my face and give it a good wipe, exposing both my belly and my poor upbringing (not really–sorry, mom!).

Another unglamorous side effect of running is what I lovingly refer to as “death breath.” Being a total mouthbreather when I run,1 I carry a tube of ChapStick on every outing, because panting between parted lips brings dryness and cracking. But on top of the dryness, it also brings these weird, white strings of, well, something that decorate my lips like fat spider webs and a taste that can only be described as “rot-like.” I’ve read up on this condition, and dehydration seems to be the culprit. I carry a small, handheld water bottle on each run and sip it as I go, but am careful not to over do it because, well, please see: runners drips.

But, it’s a trade off. For all of the disgusting things that running has revealed about my body, it’s also helped me discover some really beautiful things about my physical self. I love the way the muscles in my legs are developing; the way I’m flexible enough to stretch and bend in ways I never could before; and the energy I have, every single day.

So, if you see me on the street, and I’m wiping like mad; can’t speak for having my lips webbed together; or am sitting on a lawn, concentrating hard on my shoelaces, well, now you know. Running is gross.

— ∮∮∮ —


  1. Are there people who aren’t? Well, I hate them. 
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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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