10 Things Only Runners Know

Erica Bellman
by Erica Bellman
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10 Things Only Runners Know

Sometimes, it can feel like we’re part of a club that operates under a strange set of rules. 5:00 a.m. wakeup call for a presunrise loop? Worth it. Rubbing petroleum jelly  on certain unmentionable areas before a race? All for a (very) good cause. Chalk it up to the higher levels of oxygen we intake or that proverbial runner’s high. Whatever the reason, every road warrior and trail stomper knows these truths.

1. Running is the best way to discover a new place. Whether it’s a work trip (with limited time outside the hotel or office) or a hyperscheduled family vacation (with limited time for exploring), runners know that lacing up our sneakers is the best way to sightsee. Through bustling markets, public gardens and business districts, running allows us to cover lots of new ground.

2. But, there’s no place like home. Running is also the ideal way to fall head over heels for the place you live. For some, exercising is the only “free” time we’re able to spend reacquainting ourselves with our neighborhoods. From your favorite five-mile loop in the park to the epic long run that winds through every block in your town — twice — there’s no better way to feel at home than running through your hometown.

3. Those lucky shoes… And that perfect pair of shorts with the key pocket, which you proudly own in every color. And that chafe-free sports bra that does exactly what it’s supposed to do. When you find the gear that works best for your running form, body type and individual taste, you’ll be fiercely loyal to your favorites.

4. You run what you eat. Every runner knows that their diet radically impacts the way they feel during and after their workout. The basics: eat right, run right. That bacon cheeseburger may look tantalizing a few hours before your run, but trust us — it’ll feel like a big, greasy rock in your stomach when you’re on the track. Same goes for that bowl of ice cream. That peanut butter sandwich though? Solid.

5. Water fountains are your best friends. And it’s wise to take note of their coordinates. Nothing — we swear, nothing — tastes better than a huge gulp of H2O (cold or even lukewarm) six or seven miles into your training run on a hot day. That feeling when you find a functioning fountain, ready for guzzling? The only way to describe it is pure elation.

6. When you have to go, almost anywhere will do. In an ideal world, we’d strategically map our training runs to include ample, clean public restrooms — but that’s usually impossible. Depending on how dire the straits, nearly any facility will do, from that questionable porta-potty on the corner to the fancy restaurant with the bewildered waiter who takes pity.

7. The comforting camaraderie between strangers. It’s the simple “good morning” you get from the guy pushing a stroller on the bike path during your daily predawn run. It’s the head nod you give the gray-haired woman with whom you share a few strides in the park day after day. You may never learn these fellow runners’ names, but you feel as though you’re part of the same tribe.

8. Your running buddy is also your therapist. A rough week at the office or a frustrating personal matter can be alleviated by three things: fresh air, physical activity and a friend who’s ready and willing to listen as you vent. Even if the issue isn’t entirely resolved by the end of the run — those steep hills may have required your full attention — you’re guaranteed to feel less stressed after putting in the miles.

9. Just how good it feels to get out there again. Maybe it was the holidays that got you. Or a particularly stressful few weeks (or months) at work. And after recovering from an injury, each block without pain feels like a gift. No matter how out of shape you feel, finally getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other on your most familiar route — and actually feeling really good while doing it — feels like a combination of relief and pride.

10. The runner’s high is real. You don’t have to run 50 miles a week to experience the state of euphoria that can happen during or after a challenging run. It usually sets in after you’ve been cruising at a tempo pace, which can trigger a release of endorphins. Suddenly, you’re giving each passing stranger a high-five and a huge smile. You feel like you can do anything.

This list is far from comprehensive. Think we’re missing something? Share your own truths @MapMyRun to add your thoughts to the mix.


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About the Author

Erica Bellman
Erica Bellman

Erica Bellman is a San Francisco-based writer and editor. An avid hiker, trail runner and yogi, Erica’s favorite thing about San Francisco is its proximity to nature. Next on Erica’s West Coast bucket list: hiking the John Muir Trail, summiting Mt. Shasta, and perfecting her veggie chili recipe.


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