Early this morning, I sat down with my cup of coffee and read a great little piece in the New York Daily News about runners’ gross habits (spitting and blowing snot from their noses – also known as “snot rockets”). I have been consistently running for twenty-four years (this June), and I think of myself as a “clean” runner (hygiene – I will not claim to have a “clean” mouth when a driver cuts me off or a group of young people drive up behind me yelling, “Run, Forest, Run”). In fact, over the past four to five days of running, I have even been cognitive of staying six feet away from fellow walkers and runners (running right down the middle of the road if I have to). After reading the article, I thought to myself: Do I engage in these unclean habits? NO WAY!
With the temperatures in the 60’s, which does not happen very often in the end of March in Syracuse, I decided to test my cleanliness as a runner with a run before virtual school starts. As I turned the corner of the first block, I thought I am a clean runner. I’ve had no urge to spit. Why was I so worried after I read the article? And then it happened, I spit. Oh no! I wasn’t even a half-mile into my run and it flew out. I didn’t even mean to. About three blocks later, it happened again. Mind you, I am trying not to. What am I like when I’m not thinking about it? The horror.
After the turnaround at the reservoir, I headed downhill and back to the blocks that surround my neighborhood. As I was coasting down the hill, not even thinking, I put my finger on my nose and blew. Oh my goodness! It was natural. For a split second, I tried to stop myself, but I couldn’t. It is habit. I am a dirty runner. I wonder if the walkers (and drivers) that I’ve passed by (while spitting or snot-rocketing) through the years think that I am unclean. This changes everything.
The rest of the run was a blur. I was angry and sad at myself about becoming a dirty runner (unknowing to me, I probably spit or snot-rocket another ten or fifteen times). Finally, I arrived at the bottom of my driveway and started my walking warm-down. About fifteen steps into my warm-down, I took the collar of my t-shirt and wiped my nose. WHAT AM I DOING? How could I not be aware of how gross of a runner I have become? I need to change (not just my shirt, but my hygiene as a runner).
I walked into the house and quickly threw my shirt into the hamper. I needed to get clean.
My wife yelled from the kitchen, “How was your run?”
“Terrible.” I replied. “Do you think that I’m an unclean runner?”
“Absolutely,” she immediately states, “I can’t stand when you wipe your nose on your shirt.”
Ugh! All of these years, why didn’t she tell me this? She was probably protecting me from my “dirty running” self.