On the surface level, running seems like a simple task. You strap on your sneakers, throw on some shorts and set off. Well, maybe if you are a man that’s what you do.
If you are a woman, running is far from an off-the-cuff activity. Running takes preparation. Running takes mid-run adjustments.
Running encompasses dealing with articles of clothing that men do not have to even consider. Running takes creativity. Running is much more involved than tossing on some clothes and hitting the road.
Check out this list of the top 10 things that only female runners will comprehend and/or encounter.
1. The Bra
Let’s just start out with the worst thing girls have to deal with — figuring out what to do with the ladies. You have to strike that most subtle balance of finding a supportive bra that keeps everything in place without feeling like a python squeezing the life out of your chest.
Even worse than sporting a too tightly-fitted bra is being forced to go for a run — or, to be frank, anything more than a brisk walk — without one. Remember wrapping ace bandages around your chest in secondary school gym class on the day you forgot your sports bra?
2. The Hair
Trying to leash the monster that lives on top of your head is something that guys will never (rarely?) have to attempt. It is not even that we want to look cute or cool.
All we are trying to do is to relieve that hot hair off our neck and into some sort of ponytail that will not insulate us like asbestos.
3. The Bangs
Bangs are their own category of awfulness. Thick bangs get sweaty before you finish your warm-up. Thin bangs wisp around. But pulling them back makes you look like some kind of naked mole rat, bald and sad.
Besides, who has even figured out how to effectively pull them back? Using bobby pins is like bringing a stick to a gunfight. Headbands slip around and inevitably fall out of your hair at the worst moment, unless you get the right kind.
4. The Chafing
Instead of running a couple miles in basketball shorts, save yourself the trouble and just rub sandpaper between your legs for a few minutes instead.
Not only will it feel better, it will also be much easier to explain to your male friends what happened and why you are walking like a penguin.
5. The Incontinence #2
We all have that friend who has to plan her runs around public restrooms. (“Friend” — definitely not us!) For some ladies it’s number two, which might attribute to impaired digestion that occurs when blood travels away from the digestive tract to support other working muscles.
Staying hydrated and eating a large meal before running will help. Alternately, consider running with a roll of toilet paper in hand.
6. The Incontinence #1
A bit more common is finding the urge to pee mid-run to be utterly irresistible. Writer and runner Rose George explains,
“I don’t remember the first time it happened. I just know that I began to carry wet wipes and clean trousers to change into after a run, just in case. I have had emergency changing sessions in countless pub toilets. I’ve had to pee in the open, on roadsides or in bushes, and cursed the high-visibility neon orange jacket I run in, which is great for my safety but not for camouflage.”
7. The Hips
You might be jamming out to “Hips Don’t Lie” while you trot along, but these puppies can cause a nasty problem for female runners called bursitis, an inflammation in the bursa sacs that cushion your hip joint.
“Think of bursitis as a kind of blister,”
Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, an orthopedic physician said.
“If the joint isn’t aligned, you’ll have rubbing. And if you run enough miles, that rubbing will create real irritation.”
8. The Feet
You’re only Cinderella in your head, Princess. The reality is that your shoes probably don’t fit. Women tend to have narrower heels than men and often pick out shoes a bit too small to keep their heels from slipping out.
If you can convince Prince Charming to take a shopping trip with you, try to find a pair that will be snug enough to prevent sliding but still give you room to flex. (Yup, girls flex too.)
9. The Loss
Missing your period does not necessarily mean you are pregnant: Some girls find too much running stops their cycle like the cancel button on a laundry machine.
Though it might seem like FREEDOM in the Braveheart sense, this is actually a warning sign that your reproductive system is freaking out. Stop running so much. Eat more.
10. The Encounter
Inevitably, as you are wrapping up your run with tousled, wind-whipped hair, a dark red face and the Niagara Falls of sweat on your face, you will see the boy of your dreams. Grunt out “hey” and run away.
Being a fabulous, fit female is replete with special challenges. We women have to help each other with tips, tricks for sports bra adjustment and secret laughs about the most embarrassing moments. What’s your best advice for other women runners?