A Little (or a lot) of Runner’s TMI

Someone has to bring it up!  It’s summer and many of us are deep into our training for a marathon or other distance, and strange things are going on with your body.  So let’s go for it.

A few month’s ago I was out for a run with a friend and she mentioned that she had been dealing with some gross stomach issues.  Then she stopped for a moment and said, “Oh you’re a running coach now, you’re going to see and hear it all.”  That I have.  That I have!

While running will give you those sexy toned legs, some pretty gross stuff usually has to occur along the way to get you there.  Despite those sexy legs, it is crazy how many unsexy things happen with running.

Bloody Nipples:

Sorry gents.  This seems to be one that tends to happen mostly to the guys (thank goodness!).  I have seen and heard countless stories about men running in races and crossing the finish line with bloody tops where their shirts have chafed along the way.

Years ago when my husband started to really ramp up his mileage, he started to deal with the chafing.  So we stopped into a running store and a young, tall, scrawny teenager practically skipped over to grab us some “Nip Tips.”  These were pretty much small suction cups that you put on your nipples for running.  My husband exclaimed, “I am not wearing those!”  And out of the store we went.

His solution is much simpler and a lot less noticeable if you choose to take your shirt off.  Simply grab a sheer adhesive bandaid and rip off the two sticky ends.  Throw out the pad in the middle and slap those sticky bad boys on your nipples for chafe free running fun!


General Chafing:

Odds are you have experienced this and if you haven’t, cross your fingers that you won’t.  Sometimes you can feel it on your run and it makes the remaining miles just suck.  Other times you come home from a run and hop in the shower and that is when you feel the sting.  Yikes!

One time when I was injured and confined to the bike, I didn’t know you should wear certain undergarments to ride the bike.  I only found out after an hour of serious chafing and one hot and painful shower.  I screamed in the locker room.  It wasn’t pretty in so many ways.

First of all, take a lesson from my dumb experience and make sure you are wearing the proper running clothing.  A lot of stores sell proper gear at all price points.  From Lululemon, Athleta, to Gap, Old Navy, and even Walmart, you can find great clothing that is meant to be worn while running.  Dry fit material tends to be a bit more forgiving than plain old cotton.

But there is also something a lot of us refer to “chub rub.”  This happens to all body sizes and has nothing to do with chub.  But sometimes certain body parts chose to rub against each other, especially on hot and humid days.  Most of us don’t have that thigh gap, and that means our thighs will at some point rub together….sometimes for long periods of time.

This is when you need to get your hands on some Body Glide.  This deodorant-like looking stick is a girl (and many guy’s) best running friend.  Pull this out, rub it along anywhere that might chafe and you will find instant relief.  If you are in a bind Vaseline works well.  However I find Vaseline to be a bit gooey and sloppy.  Don’t laugh, but KY makes a liquid formula that has just the right consistency to use on the go.  It also works great if you are running with a group and don’t want them slapping your Body Glide all over their sweaty, smelly bodies.


Bloody Urine After Running:

This sounds like a weird one but I suffered from this quite a bit when I first started running.  Sometimes after a long or hard run you might find small amounts of blood in your urine after you finish.  The “problem” goes away immediately but it can’t be pretty scary.

If this happens to you, it might be worth going to visit a doctor.  However, it is a phenomena known as running induced blood leak, or hematuria.  Vigorous exercise can cause this onset but the biggest culprit is dehydration.  It is believed that when your bladder is empty, the walls of the organ can rub against each other and cause microscopic bleeding.

Yet another good reason to stay properly hydrated before, during, and after you runs!


Ever heard of runners trots?  That’s because they are pretty darn common.  Problem is running gets your GI tract working into overdrive.  Top that off with the fact that we runners tend to eat pretty healthy, high fiber diets, and you’ve got yourself a problem.

It is important for every runner to figure out what kind of foods work well for them before a run.  This means determining what won’t make you nauseous during that run and what won’t make your stomach want to take a load off 30 minutes into exercising.  Besides knowing what types of food trigger the need to go, it is important to know how your body likes to work on a daily basis.  Do you find that you have to hit the restroom an hour after you wake up?  Then you need to make sure you get up at least an hour before your run so that you can take care of business.

Remember that coffee is a natural diuretic.  We runners love this stuff, but keep in mind that it will have you needing to go.  So plan accordingly!


The Case of the Lost Toe Nails:

If you are a distance runner odds are at some point in your life you will lose a toe nail.  Now you can do a lot to prevent this.  Buy proper shoes, wear good socks, and trim your toe nails.  But the truth is, distance runners have ugly feet, and you might end up with 8 or 9 nails instead of 10 at some point.

A few things tend to cause this for me.  Running on treadmills tends to have this uncoordinated lady zoning off and slamming her feet into the front of the mill, or just mindlessly pounding along.  Running a lot of extra miles at one time can cause this.  And super hot and humid days tends to have my shoes and socks soaked in sweat and that seems to be the #1 culprit of the toenail caper.  Sometimes though, I just come home from a run and notice one toenail is a tad achy.

It won’t happen overnight.  It usually starts with a cloudy looking or purple hued nail.  Slowly over time it will start to pull away from the nail bed.  This is when it is time to come to terms with the loss.  Bid it farewell and wait for 1-3 months for it to go away.  Ladies, after it goes you can slap some polish on there and no one will ever know.  But don’t plan on it growing back just like it used to.  It will likely have some lovely bumps and odd shapes to it.  They will love you at the pedicure spa.

Keeping your nails trimmed and filed down is a good way to, hopefully, prevent this.

If you are really interested in this topic, Mark Remy got his debut at Runner’s World with this lovely article about a necklace made of ultramarathoners’ lost toe nails.  Speaking of sexy……



Yeah they happen.  Again, you can do everything in your power to prevent these.  But they will show up when you least expect it.  I once was finishing up a 15 mile run when at mile 13 I felt what I thought was a small wood chip in my shoes.  I was struggling so I decided to not stop and deal with the “wood chip” because I thought it would be more difficult to start back up.  When I got home I took my shoes off and discovered that the “wood chip” was actually a gigantic blister about the size of a silver dollar.  Don’t know why it started but it was a doozy.

The best way to avoid this is to wear properly fitted running shoes and don’t wear cotton socks.  They are not your friends!  Cotton socks will rip your feet apart on a hot day and make your feet freeze in the winter.  Go to a running store, or again just about any other store these days, and get yourself a good pair (or several) of running socks.


I have to end with this one.  Running makes your nose run.  It happens.  It’s okay to blow.  Just be courteous.

I once ran a 15K in upstate New York and at mile 7 ended up behind an older guy who kept spitting and snot rocketing every other minute.  I desperately wanted to pass him but I was afraid to because I thought I might be his next target.  Come to think of it, this may have been his race tactic to secure a top spot at the finish.

No one expects you to pack a box of Kleenex.  We already agreed that running isn’t really that sexy.  So go ahead and blow.  Use your hand or your wrist.  But be aware of who is around you.  If you are running with a  group, consider stepping to the side for a second and taking care of business discreetly.  Look around you and make sure there aren’t others at your side (or right behind you).  I don’t recommend  doing a snot rocket right in front of a school or a playground.  Just be aware of where you are and wait for the right time.

So I guess the point of this post today is that we runners are a pretty nasty bunch.  Keep yourself properly outfitted and let’s try to subject others to our grossness as little as possible.

Happy running!

36 thoughts on “A Little (or a lot) of Runner’s TMI

  1. A few things that work for me. Nipple chaffing- 2Toms makes a silicon roll on that works wonders for me. I have not had any problems since I started using this roll on. For toe nails – I use 3M medical tape. This is the tan tape, not the white tape, that you find in the First Aid isle of your local drug store. You need just enough to wrap around you toe about 1.5 times. This holds it in place. I have not lost a nail in years and for a runner, my toes look pretty good.
    Cheers – Andy

  2. hahah this post is on point. GI issues have been my biggest issue as of late. I’ve been getting up at 4:30 a.m. to do some training runs before work (I leave the house at 6:20 a.m.) and I know if I dont clean the shoot its going to be a horrible run. (Gulp) After a few bad experiences I think I FINALLY have everything under control. Hope I didn’t jinx myself. 🙂

  3. I wish you could see my face when you start talking about bloody urine. That is one that I’ve never experienced or even heard of before and I’ve run alot and for a long time! Yikes! I hate the doctor but that one would have sent me running into her arms!

  4. Excellent post! I was not aware of bloody urine but this happened to me for a bit last week. I was a little confused, but then it went away. So that’s good. Yep the toenails just never look the same again. I only have 4 that look normal at this point!

  5. Love this post!
    I’ve managed to sorta take control over all those things. However, last year I got 2 nice singlets, I wanted them so bad, I bought them. Decided to wear one for a race, never wore it before, my nipples were gone, no blood though. It was soooo painful, both on my nipples and my wallet, cuz no way I’ll wear those singlets again for a race, I still wear them for workouts but make sure to tape my nipples like Janet Jackson on the Superbowl.

  6. So many issues! I have one toenail that is achey all the time and hurts especially bad after a half marathon. It’s been on its way out for like a year but it’s somehow still hanging on.

  7. On the subject of bloody nipples, be sure to attach race bibs sensibly or those pins will also rub and cause issues. Fortunately I’ve never experienced any of these issues; one of the lucky ones I guess.

    • Well see, you learn something new every day. I had no idea, but this totally makes sense. I once pinned a bibbed right over the zipper of a jacket and 2 minutes into a 15K realized I was way too hot. You should have watched me maneuver the bib off, the jacket off, and then the bib back on; all while I ran a trail race. My husband was running beside me and when I finished he mentioned that he was rather impressed considering my otherwise lack of coordination.

  8. I love this post. I can definitely relate to some of these. blisters..bloody urine…the toenails…the “bright” side of running, huh? lol. I was so scared about the bloody urine that I called my doctor about it….

  9. I love this! Cracked me up … I went 23 years of running <5 miles per day, and never had a chafing issue. In 2012 I started upping my mileage and running weekends as well … and welcome to the world of chafing and bloody nipples (ouch!).

    I am fortunate to not have major chafing issues, but I buy cheap band-aids every time I do grocery shopping! I use a whole one on each, hadn't thought about splitting them up … have to try that.

    Bloody urine makes sense … but yeah, right to the doctor if I ever saw that! haha good reminder to stay hydrated!

  10. I was so strangely proud of myself when I learned how to blow a snot rocket. It is probably the grossest skill I have in my repertoire. 🙂 This post is hilariously terrifying. I didn’t know most of this stuff when I started running! (Thank goodness someone told me about Body Glide.)

  11. This post is disgusting! ahahaha! For the nips I use KT tape. Works like wonders! And yes, I swear by bodyglide. Not only for runs, but for long days of walking – like at amusement parks or festivals! Great tips!

  12. Pingback: Wrap it up! | Walk To Rio 2016

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