by Anne Mileski in Training Tips, image by Matter

The Ugly Side of Running

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When I first started running, I didn’t realize how my body would respond.  Granted, I became a lot stronger as time went on, but there were also a lot of not so pleasant side effects to my new hobby.  Here are a few of the most common ailments I’ve encountered and how to prevent them.


This might be the most common issue new and old runners alike find creeping onto their heels.
Blisters love warm, moist areas where they can creep in underneath friction.  Fast feet definitely fall into that category.

To prevent blisters make sure that your shoes fit! It seems obvious, but if your shoes aren’t properly sized, they won’t sit correctly and will facilitate blister-loving conditions.  Also, the longer distances you run, the more you need moisture wicking socks.  They are made of special material to keep your feet dry, making it harder for blisters to form.

Check out our in-depth article about blisters.

Shin Splints

The #1 culprit for that aching on the front of your legs? Your stride.
Lots of beginners tend to run on the front of their feet rather than on the balls.  Make sure you stay centered on your stride and don’t favor one side of your foot.  Shoes can be another one to blame.  Good running shoes will have enough cushion to take the shock of pounding your feet on the pavement.  Go to a good sporting goods store to check out something with a little extra pad.  While you’re there, have them check out your old kicks to assess your stride.  Kill two birds with one stone by getting shoes that enhance your natural stride tendencies and provide adequate shock absorption.

There has been a lot of discussion about the correct stride and there are a lot of different opinions on the correct way to land your feet while running. We’ll cover this in an upcoming article soon!

We have written a Runner’s Guide to Shin Splints.

Tummy troubles

Remember that rule about not swimming for an hour after you eat?
If you’re experiencing nausea after or while running, you might need to apply that rule to your feet flying as well. However, the more likely suspect is dehydration.  Make sure that you’re drinking lots of water throughout the day.  Besides keeping yourself well hydrated, water is  your number one cleansing source, flushing away toxins and all the bad stuff you might be encountering throughout the day and in your snacks.

But even if you’re getting 8 glasses a day, you need to hydrate during your training runs.  Especially if you’re running for longer than an hour.  Carry a water bottle or try a hydration pack to keep your energy and hydration up.  If running like a camel isn’t your style, plan your runs around drinking fountains or some other sort of water spot.

Read more about hydration.


Unless you’re continuously running at night, always take the proper precautions to protect yourself from the sun.
Depending on your location, lather yourself up with SPF, wear a hat and get some good polarized sunglasses.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

Chafing, Toenails, and all the Gross Stuff

Long term, long distance runners can vouch for the fact that running isn’t always pretty.  Do yourself a favor and make like a girl scout: be prepared.  Use Vaseline or another type of body gel to cover spots that might rub against your clothing to prevent chaffing.  Keep your toenails short so they don’t hit the front of your shoes when you’re heading down hills–that way they won’t bruise or even fall off (seriously).  As for staying dry, make sure you have moisture wicking clothing and a hat or headband to keep sweat from burning your eyes.

As a fellow runner, I can tell you that I haven’t experienced all of these things in full force.  Some I experienced right off the bat (shin splints) and others I got a little taste of when I started to run longer and further.  You may never get a blister, or you might have to take off a couple of weeks because your knee ended up being more serious of a set back than you imagined.

As long as you are smart, armed with resources and confidence about how to jump any hurdle, your training will be unstoppable.  Maybe even beautiful.

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