You Know You’re a Runner When… (part 2)

A couple of months ago I spent a pleasant afternoon writing a post titled “You Know You’re a Runner When“. Since I enjoyed it so much, and since I had further ideas to add to it, I thought I would return to the topic today and carry on my list…

1. You have more safety pins than you know what to do with. It’s a funny one this. There is a box in one of our kitchen drawers (the one Michael McIntyre would refer to as the “man drawer” which is stuffed to overflowing with safety pins of all sizes which have, for the most part, at one time served to pin on a race number. In my carefully organised and pre-packed “race bag” (yes, racing brings out the Monica Geller in me!) I carry “emergency” safety pins just in case the unthinkable happens and I find myself registering at a race devoid of pins (this has only happened once but since it was a charity fun run, that’s ok). Why, then, do I feel compelled at every race I register for to collect an additional 4 safety pins when I collect my race number? Why do I never say, “it’s ok, I have some in my bag”? Is it some kind of running-related magpie-inspired kleptomania that sees me unable to resist the lure of the safety pin? And exactly what is it I think I need all these pins for? Other than recreating “that” Liz Hurley dress, I can think of no possible scenario which would see me respond with, “don’t panic, I have 100 gross of safety pins!!” And I don’t think I’m alone in this affliction. Rarely do I see any of my fellow runners produce their own pins to secure their race number to their chests. Like me, they collect their race number then, when directed towards the omnipresent massive box of safety pins, say, “oh thanks” before plunging their hands into said box of sparkling beauties! I can only assume they’re all preparing for the same safety pin emergency as me…

2.You can remember race times to the nearest second but can’t remember what you did last week. This seems to happen to me a lot. If you were to ask me for my PB over a particular distance or what time I ran a marathon in, I would be able to give you the answer without even a moment’s thought. On the other hand, if you were to ask me how I spent, say, last Sunday, there would be a pause while I searched frantically through my memory banks, trying desperately to visualise my diary and work out what I did (unless of course it involved running, in which case I would know exactly how far I ran and precisely how long it took me!). I don’t really understand why this should be. Ordinarily I have the sort of brain that doesn’t cope well with numbers, yet as a runner I am obsessed with them: time, pace, distance, PB, heart rate, training routes, the list could go on… To an extent, most runners are obsessed with the numbers as they are always striving for some kind of improvement: to knock time off a PB, to run a little further, to feel more comfortable at a particular pace. What we all need to remember is that sometimes it’s good to simply run. Leave the Garmin at home, listen to how your body feels and just enjoy being out in the fresh air. Who knows, it might even help you remember how you spent the rest of the day!

3.You consider energy gels a food group. Energy gels. Where would we be without those gloopy pouches of rocket fuel (and their cousins the sports drink)? Never is this more apparent than in preparation for a marathon. Let’s face it, without some kind of fuel (be it gels, drinks or jelly beans) we just wouldn’t make it round those 26.2 miles. Once I reach the double-digit runs, heading out to train becomes increasingly complicated. No longer is it sufficient to simply lace up my trainers and make sure I have my house keys, now I’ll need a gel for every hour I intend to be out and to work out exactly how I’m going to access all the fluid I’ll need to keep me hydrated. Frankly the preparations for those long runs involve so many potions I might as well have a lab coat on! I actually started buying my energy gels in bulk and by the time I completed my spring marathons this year I had consumed enough of them that I really was starting to consider them a staple part of my diet along with carbs and protein! Not only that, but I had a sneaking suspicion that if someone were to cut me I would bleed sports drink, such had been my consumption of them (particularly on race days to give me the fuel to drag my poor weary legs through that final, painful 10k!). Even now, I still associate the taste of those gels and drinks with Sunday morning long training runs and I know it won’t be long until I’m back to that routine again!

4. At some point you’ve lost at least one toenail. Apologies to any non-running readers, but among runners there are no limits. We readily discuss all the more “unpleasant” side effects of distance running and this is why your running friends will always be your friends for life! When it comes to toenails, I have for the most part been quite fortunate. I’ve read and heard plenty about blisters, black toenails and, of course, losing toenails, but until this year had no first hand experience of this. Even running my first ever marathon in Paris I had no problems with my feet. Then London happened. This year’s Virgin London Marathon was the second hottest on record and, as someone who trained in the snow and ice of last winter in Scotland, I certainly found the conditions tough. I kept myself well hydrated, but I also regularly poured water down the back of my neck to help keep me cool. I’m no physicist, but I do know the laws of gravity dictate that said water will ultimately end up sloshing its way to my feet. Water + heat + 26.2 miles = an open invitation to blisters and by the closing miles of the race I could feel that telltale sting around my toes that announced the arrival of the little blighters. Unfortunately one of those blisters had wormed its way under a toenail and when, a couple of days later, it popped, it dislodged my poor wee nail at the same time (although the nail hung on in there for some time, finally making its departure just in time for sandal season!). My blisters healed fairly quickly, but sadly running another marathon just 5 weeks later with soft, fresh skin on my toes meant those blisters reared their ugly heads again. Such is the lot of the distance runner! What I did learn from the experience, though, is that losing a toenail doesn’t actually hurt (at least not in my case) and that if you paint nail polish where the nail should be then no one will ever know the nail is missing! Right now I have a full complement of 10 nails again, but marathon training is just around the corner…


5. Your Christmas list is almost exclusively running kit. For me, this was the event that led me to write this post. Having received a couple of Christmas catalogues from well-known running retailers this week, I idly began to flick through them. Idle flicking soon changed to turning down the corners of pages featuring items I wanted and soon, I had compiled a wishlist, you know, just in case anyone needed any gift ideas! The thing is, I can’t think of any non-running items to add to my list so I guess, much like last year, my gifts will predominantly be running-related. I don’t really have a problem with this as it means that the presents I (hopefully) receive will be things I can get a lot of use out of. I promise I have been a good girl this year, so if you’re reading this Santa, my list of incredibly useful and life-changing running kit can currently be found on my dining room table. It’s not in any order of preference and I’ll be thrilled to receive any (or all) of it!


So there we have it, further musings from weird and wonderful world of a runner. If you have any further suggestions to add, feel free to add them in a comment below. Happy running everyone!

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