Top 5 running skills
Whether you are running to simply avoid the spare tire or trying to qualify for Boston there a 5 skills you must master. I am not talking about running form or VO2 max. These are the real skills you won’t be reading about in the pages of Runner’s World.
1. The Snot Rocket – This is a primary skill that must be mastered for a variety of reasons. Of course there is the physiological necessity of honing this ability to clear the nasal passage, but it is important for other purposes. Primarily social. When your feet are running undoubtably your nose will run as well, and unless you are running alone in the desert you will eventually need to clear it out. Now the beauty of the running community is a seemingly disgusting act like this is perfectly acceptable on a run, provided you do it with the appropriate decorum. You close off one nostril and blow hard downward just missing your stride or wide to the side provided you aren’t running abreast of course. Then the other side. You should clear things out in two blows. Any more and you cross the line into gross. The main key is avoid others so make sure you account for the wind and all bodies around you.
Here is a snot rocket level two tip. When you wipe off your fingers, which of course you will, make sure you do it near the top of your shirt. At some point you will be using the bottom of your shirt to wipe your face or clean your glasses and I think most of us would prefer to do that with a snot-free portion of your shirt.
2. Body Glide – If you don’t know what Body Glide is you are either not logging enough miles or you are sadly chaffed beyond the point of miserable. Body Glide is as important as a nice pair of wicking socks. Everyone has their own areas that need application, some typical, some unique and some probably not appropriate for public conversation. But regardless, we all have our hot spots that are prone painful chaffing. Old-school guys probably will say just use vaseline, but why do that to your clothes? The vaseline pointlessly stains them. So go to your local running store or buy some online and a couple of swipes before your run and your life is completely changed. For the better. For you XX runners, they even have a Body Glide just for women
3. #1 and #2 – Yup everyone poops and pees as well. Unlike the majority of the population, us runners have to properly plan our bathroom breaks.
Lets start out easy and talk pee first. Peeing on a training run is no big deal, find a bathroom or a tree or a discreet alley and do your business. During a race do all you can to pee as close to the start as possible. But the combination of nerves and all your pre-race hydration usually has most marathoners needing to pee during the race. You have a couple of options. I suggest the stop and drop, weighing convenience over covert. I remember when my friend Rose ran her first New York and was aghast at all the people peeing everywhere, but in her second year when she wanted to improve her time there she was peeing on the side of the street unashamed. There are you more serious runners that are running for more than just a PR and for you folks, I hear you just pee your pants. This is a game time decision. One of my fellow Running with Ragers that was attempting to qualify for Boston (she will remain nameless) announced before a 16 mile training run that she was going to practice this skill that day. We promptly corrected her that this was not a learned skill rather something you just do.
Now on to #2. I simply say do what you have to whether it be coffee or training the body to poop when you wake up and leave it at that. If the urge arises during a race, find a porta-potty and adjust your goal. Unless it is Olympic Gold, and even that is debatable, I don’t see any other alternative as being sane.
4. Etiquette – There are three subsets to this that come to mind.
- Saying hello – this is a constant debate – is it rude not to say hi to all the people you pass on your Saturday morning run? I tend to think you simply do whatever you are comfortable with, but if someone pre-empts with a hello your way, you need to reply. And with a smile, even if you are at mile 19 of your final 20 mile training run. I find myself personally saying hi to most people; runners, dog walkers, homeless folks, but Carolyn tends to run with more introverted focus. Both are fine, just don’t be rude.
- Running side by side – Or side by side by side by side. When you are running with your running pals and you are approached by another group, revert to whatever half a lane allows. Even if you are engaged in a vigorous debate about the meaning of life, be considerate to the others. Far to often one group stays four wide and forces the opposing group to whittle down to single file. Once again, simple manners: don’t be rude.
- Walkers or baby joggers at the beginning of races – How many times have you started a race only to be boxed in by all the walkers? I am all for people getting out and getting exercise at whatever speed or supporting a charity, but please be considerate. The faster you are the closer to the front and conversely, the slower should migrate to the back of the starting line. This goes for baby joggers as well. Even if you are a peppy runner keep in mind you are pushing a big clunky object that is a hinderance to other runners. Trust me, you may think you aren’t impeding on others, but you are. I am not anti-family by any means, just once again, be considerate of others.
5. Talking about running – Of course we as runners love talking about our training runs and marathon times. Black toe nails fascinate us. Hitting the wall and surviving bonds us. Boasting of PRs is welcome banter. However, to all our non-runner friends listening to all of this becomes nauseous. Quickly. When you are with your running buddies talk about all things running all day and all night, but when others engage the conversation, it is time to move on. I am told that runners are only barely better than people who try to convert your belief system or think they can convince your to switch your political affiliation if you just knew their policies. Not going to happen. While I could talk running all the time, lets save that conversation for those that are interested.
I am sure there are other skills out there and would love to hear from you.