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Updated 9.5.18


Occasionally I find it necessary, as the so-called "Voice of the NERC," to delve into subjects that some might consider best left undelved. So, as the arbiter of both good taste, and bad, for this club, I have decided that it is important for us to discuss our "bodily fluids," an unfortunate but necessary part of running. I know that NERC readers are feeling the urge, as it were, to learn about this less elegant side of our sport.

At this point I know some of you are saying, "Gee, Aimee Gilman? Does she actually have bodily fluids?" Ashamed as I might be to admit it, the answer is, yes, I do, but I did not realize it until I became a runner. I remember the very first 5k race I ever did. It was downtown, and after I arrived, I realized there was no place for me to use the bathroom, except, you should excuse the expression, the "porta john." Now, being the classy and meticulous person that I am, I took one look at the thing and said to myself, "Self, I will never,ever be that desperate." The race itself was miserable, as you can imagine, and afterward I was forced to break my recent vow. I've never been the same since.

I did discover that the use of a porta john by a woman is an extremely trying ordeal. First, she must use her fingernail to push open the door so that she doesn't actually touch it with any part of her skin. Once inside, several things occur simultaneously:

- the body folds in on itself so that no part of it touches anything inside, except for shoes;
- eyes are averted so she doesn't have to look into the abyss;
- breath is held, for obvious reasons;
- brain is shut down so she doesn't have to think about what she, or everyone else, may have been doing in there.

Unfortunately, the "eeewww" factor does not go away once out of a portajohn. For me, personally, a person who likes her bathrooms marble, soap scented, and towels monogrammed, the shame of the portajohn is a never-ending nightmare. I am certainly the first, and up to this day, the only member of my family to ever use such a thing. This is how low running has brought me.

Some of you NERCERS have gone even further. Admit it, some of you have had occasion to use the "outdoor facilities." While going to the bathroom next to a tree may smell better than when in the portajohn, we should not fool ourselves into believing that standing behind a leafless tree one foot in diameter will hide us from view when others walk by. Even when the trees are in bloom, foliage can be hazardous. Of course, I personally wouldn't know since I've never had the experience of "going" in a patch of poison ivy, and then watching as giant welts appeared all over my body, which caused me to pray for a garden rake large enough to scratch them with. But I'm sure this has happened to somebody and that it was very unpleasant.

Another of the bodily fluids is known as the "phlegm phenomenon." This is an interesting one because in runners it generally manifests itself as "The Gob." While I am reluctant to admit it, I do envy those lucky runners of both sexes who can let a big one fly on the run without breaking stride. This sort of thing takes a lot of practice and I have not yet reached that level. As you can see, the phlegm thing has also served to remove me from my natural inclinations, as generally I would no more think of spitting than I would consider getting my hair cut for less than $50.

But the most troubling of the bodily fluids has to be sweat. For myself, I never realized I could sweat until I started running. All those years with nary a drop. Now, a mere five mile run and I have generated more liquid than a 300 pound linebacker after four quarters of football. The worst part of this is the amount of laundry produced. It is practically impossible for me to keep up. This forces me to shop for more running stuff, which produces more laundry, and, well, its just a vicious cycle.

Of course, even if runners didn't sweat, they would still have to do laundry because of the last of the critical bodily fluids. Yes, I'm talking to you, NERCERs. You have wiped your runny noses on just about every article of running wear you own. I always carry an embroidered hanky myself, but don't think I haven't seen the rest of you guys engaging in this unfortunate, and unsanitary, activity. But I forgive you because it is simply the depths to which running has taken us.

Well, that wraps it up for today. Just remember that when it comes to running and our fluids, we are all in the same boat, sailing past the finish line in our dripping clothes, where our finishers' photos show us wiping our noses on the collective sleeve of victory. Run well, and run dry.

Editor's Note: The publishers of this newsletter strongly recommend using a good hand sanitizer after reading this article. There is one located inside the portajohn.
A History of RunningAnatomy of a CrosstrainerBuckeye Trails 50KGot Guilt
Misery loves CompanyMy Dirty Little SecretNerc ComplaintRunning for Dummies
Size MattersThe 12 step runnerThe NERC HelplineThe Rules of the Road
UnmentionablesYiddish in the Running

This article was originally written By Aimee Gilman for the newsletter of the NERC, Northeast Running Club. It may not be reproduced without the express, written consent of Aimee Gilman.
Copyright 2010.

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