What is the real truth about running?
Pull up any running blog and what you will see are pictures of people decked out in running gear, most looking fairly fit and healthy, in various degrees of glamour. Topics vary from running shoe reviews, race reports, nutrition, goals, training to what they like to eat on their days off. I love a good running blog.
What people never mention is the amount of airborne creatures you will inhale, swallow and otherwise ingest into your body in your running lifetime. That’s right – I’m talking flies, midges, mosquitoes and every other variety of tiny, filthy little wing-bearing insect out there. WARNING: Tasty subject ahead.
In your mouth as you desperately try to gasp in air, crawling from a landing point on your cheek or lips or otherwise dive-bombing as if hitting their target at speed. Bouncing off the back of your throat, again as you TRY TO BREATHE but also now trying to NOT SWALLOW the live creature you can feel sticking to the walls of your esophagus… There follows a few minutes of graceful runner behaviour of gagging, trying to breathe, spluttering and waving all over the road as you try to get the little bugger out of there – as you also, of course, try to keep running. Duh. Obviously a runner does not stop running. That would be silly.
In your eyes. The winged insects bullseye. Or at least that’s how it always seems to feel when they plow full force into the middle of your eyeball, having skilfully managed to zoom right into your face and dart underneath your eyelashes, while you are effectively a moving, bouncing target. I’d be impressed if I didn’t hate the little fuckers so much. Or there’s the ones that hit the corner of your eye, get knotted up IN YOUR EYELASHES, as you try to blink them out and get rid of the temporary blindness, only to result in them (or parts of them…) getting lost somewhere around the back of your eye. You then spend the next hour seeing bits of black wings and legs in the corner of your eye and are plagued by that constant companion feeling of something stuck in your eye. Tossers.
Up your nose. Somehow. Somehow, these teeny tiny little creatures not only occasionally manage to successfully hit your face target dead on centre, but they also skilfully sweep, at the very last second, a right hand turn up your nose. HOW DO THEY DO THAT? It simultaneously amazes me and drives me bananas. There follows more runners’ grace of blowing out one side of the nose frantically trying to clear the live creature from another orifice.
Summertime multiplies the number of live protein ingested by runners at least 5 fold. Get on a bike – and we’re talking possibly 15 times more. And they’re bigger. No joke. At least on the bike, you can duck your helmet down when you see a swarm (flock? gathering? what do you call a large gathering of midges?) and proceed like a battering ram going into battle. Just don’t lift your head up too early 😉
This is the reality of running (and cycling). 99% of days it’s just you and the road. Your breathing, your body temperature, your muscles – all starting to go to work. Doesn’t matter what you look like – whether your hair looks good, whether your clothes clash or whether you look good when you run. What matters is that you are out there running, doing your thing, being proactive in making yourself feel good. Fast breath, sweat, feeling the ground beneath your feet, pushing yourself to exhilaration and achieving more than you ever thought you could.
That is real running.
And real running is always accompanied by flies and midges. Top tip 😉 You heard it here.