It’s pretty cold in Sydney these days.
For those who have never experienced it here at the ass-end of the world, our winter doesn’t engender the fuzzy, jingle-bell, white-snow kind of feeling that northern hemisphere people are often used to. Our one is more the windy, biting, chill-to-the-bone kind that belies the sunshine above our heads. It is also the only time of the year that reminds me of the fact that I have nipples.
It’s not that the low temperature suddenly makes me beam with pride that I have them. Rather, it makes them beam so high that I wish I didn’t. I’m not sure about other men (as for women, I won’t even go there), but every time I head out for a run during winter, these stiffened nipples of mine rub very uncomfortably against whatever top I am wearing.
I have tried many different shirt fabrics to lessen the painful friction, but all to no avail. I have ever so tenderly applied moisturing lotion on the relevant points but it immediately wears off on contact with any perspiration. I have even put on those neat circular band-aids a few times. They help, until it is time to rip them off, at which point I am also eye-wateringly reminded that I have some hair around my nipples.
All this is just a prelude to an admission – an admission that, despite my obvious passion for running, there are some nitty-gritty aspects of it that I can do without.
Another is the occasional blackened toe nail that I get from pounding the pavement. And it is always the second one on my left foot that gets the makeover – so much so that, at times, it makes me look like some sicko who enjoys black pedicure on just one toe! It is especially grating for someone (that is, moi) who has a fetish about clean, well-maintained feet which … on second thoughts … probably does make me some sort of a sicko.
My body also likes to play games with me when I’m out on long runs. As a fanatic, I don’t generally like to stop when I have my joggers on. In fact, sometimes I will risk my entire life sprinting across a busy road, just so that I can say I ran the entire 2 hours without stopping. However, while I can handle dodging oncoming traffic, there is really no dodging when small nature calls. And, for some strange reason, it invariably calls during long runs when urinals are extremely hard to find.
I have tried to solve this inconvenience by doing pre-emptive visits to the bathroom before long runs. However, in line with Murphy’s Law, it never comes out when you want it to.
“You need to piss during a long run? Why don’t you just sweat it out?” a friend once suggested to me as a solution.
I’m not sure where he got this physiological idea that, when you’re busting to pee, you can just magically switch the outlet to your skin pores. Needless to say, he is no longer my friend.
Of course, when the situation becomes too desperate during a run, I have no choice but to stop and do my business against a tree. And during these moments, I’m always hoping to hell that there isn’t a family picnic somewhere in a direct line-of-sight, with some kids and wife looking on, mid-bite, in sheer horror, while the husband is frantically calling the police.
There is one last aspect of running that I am not quite fond of. Or, to put it more accurately, my wife is unambiguously not fond of. It is the sweat that pours out of my body as I cool down after a run. And since I usually cool down in the lounge room, it invariably results in a pool of sweat where I am sitting.
“Eeeeewwww!!! Honey, do you mind not leaving your unsightly sweat in my beautiful living room? It’s gross“, my wife would usually shriek.
“But I’m cooling down and having a drink, woman! In any case, my sweat is not gross, thank you very much“!
“Can’t you do your cooling outside in the backyard“?
“But it’s cold out there, and my nipples will get stiff again“!
Deep inside, however, I do sympathise with her. I mean, a grown man sitting in a pool of his own sweat, albeit a non-gross variety, is certainly not a good look, particularly against the backdrop of a carefully maintained lounge room. Unfortunately, I have no control over my body, one which perspires moderately when it is running but leaks like a sieve when the run is done.
So there you have it. Even I, a self-proclaimed running fanatic, grudgingly admit that there are some aspects of the exercise that I can’t stand. However, it’s going to take a lot more than stiff nipples, a blackened toe nail, the need to pee and the free-flowing sweat to keep me from putting one foot in front of another.
After all, where’s the fun in running, if not for some character-building inconveniences along the way!
Keep on pounding.