10 Things Runners Say Vs. The Disgustingly Honest Things They Actually Mean

In my many years of running, I have come to understand that all runners share a secret language, one that I have dubbed Runner Speak. It doesn't matter how experienced you are — from 5K running noobs to hardcore Ironman racers — we all seem to share this universal sense for the kinds of things we should and should not say to non-runners. An unspoken over-sharing code, so to speak. I mean, some of it is the kind of common sense that most humans possess. Nobody wants to see or hear about your gnarled blisters (even if all you want to do more than anything in the world is show off and talk about your gnarled blisters). You lock that stuff down and talk about binge watching House of Cards or Kimmy Schmidt like a normal person. But just under the surface, you are in a perpetual state of dying to say all of the gross runner things that are really on your mind.

That's the one advantage of Runner Speak: It's basically when you say things in just ambiguous enough terms that you can hint at your inner turmoil or gross things you want to say while also appearing like you could function in polite society. And thank god for Runner Speak, because without it, we'd probably lose all of our non-running friends (aka, our sane friends) for good. If you're a runner, then you have undoubtedly said all of these things that really mean something else entirely:

What you say: "No, no, I'm too busy for a pedicure."

Incidentally, you are always too busy, forever and ever. What's the deal, yo?

What you mean: "Several of my toenails have fallen off and I look like Frankenstein's monster."

Turns out, it doesn't take all that much mileage for your toenails to break up with your feet. If they're not off completely, odds are they're in some form of unacceptable disarray. Both of my pinky toenails, for instance, are split right down the middle, so I am in a constant state of giant hangnail that makes dog's paws look sexy.

What you say: "I have to get up really early for a run tomorrow."

You'd totally hang out if it weren't for all that darn distance training.

What you mean: "I have very important plans to eat a roll of cookie dough in my pajamas tonight so go away."

Running is just below "having a kid" on the "legitimate excuses to get out of things I don't want to do" scale, particularly when it comes to late night shenanigans or other things that force you to get out of your sweatpants. That bar will be there forever. But 30 Rock will only stream on Netflix for so long, and you have a lot of calories to consume.

What you say: "Ugh, I had some total tummy trouble after that race."

Insert sad face emoji to keep an air of ~mystery~ but also get showered in the sympathy you need and deserve.

What you mean: "Ugh, I almost shat myself and barely reached that port-a-potty before I exploded."

Long races are like repeatedly punching your digestive system into volcanic lava. Like, I get nobody wants to hear about it, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening. Dear god, is it ever happening.

What you say: "I'm thinking of taking up cross-training."

This is when we feel the most virtuous and badass. Look, everyone! I can do more than just mindlessly run in a circle. I can mindlessly swim and bike in one, too.

What you mean: "I got into the pool once and it was the most boring twenty minutes of my life."

Sebastian and his buddies may be singing "Under The Sea," but your headphones decidedly don't work underwater. Game over, pool.

What you say: "Ugh, that was so gross, why the hell did he just spit on the sidewalk?!"

*fans self because your fragile little heart can't take it*

What you mean: "I have hacked up multiple lungs and left them in various places on this same stretch of road, but if I act really offended when someone else does it NOBODY WILL SUSPECT A THING."


What you say: "I might have to slow down a bit, I'm on my period."

*Cue the flashback to seventh grade gym class*

What you mean: "I'm leaking. I've been compromised. I'm going to get arrested for someone else's murder because this just turned into a CRIME SCENE."

And, in a stroke of bitter irony, the faster you try to outrun it the faster the lava will flow.

What you say: "Oh, sorry, [person who wants to borrow my headphones], my headphones are broken!"

And so are my spare ones! Darn it, co-worker, try someone else.

What you mean: "I wear these headphones while I run and I'd totally loan them to you if they weren't caked in sweat, grime, and loose earwax, but I love you too much to let you take that chance."

I was such an innocent before I started running long distances. Ears are gross, guys.

What you say: "Oh yeah, that was a rough race for me."

If they don't pester you for details, you can't give them. But if they do...well, they asked for this.

What you mean: "Somewhere on the sideline of the Disney Princess half-marathon there is an employee dressed in a full Maleficent costume who will never un-see me dry heaving on the side of the road."

Although, to be fair, she probably saw a hell of a lot worse as the day went on.

What you say: "Today is a sweatpants day."

Nobody will argue with this rationale because truly, every day is sweat pants day.

What you mean: "My thighs are chafing so badly that the burn could bake bread."

*cue the Miss America theme song*

What you say: "I totally carbo-loaded for the race last night."

You're basically a hero at this preparation thing. You should go pro.

What you mean: "I ate an entire pizza last night just because, and then remembered I had a race in the morning."

Whoops. But I mean, in your defense...pizza.

Images: runtothefinish/Instagram; Giphy (8)