Posts Tagged ‘chafing’

Runner disaster stories: The unfortunate incident of the improvised gel pouch

SusanRacingArmyIf you run long enough, you will do something stupid or encounter some sort of running mishap. In this series, I’ll try to make you feel better about your own mistakes and occasional bouts of misery by sharing others tales of woe!

Today’s story comes from yours truly, and involves my first race using gel/chews.

I started as a 5 km runner. 10 km races felt long. But, eventually, I decided to run a half. I trained. I ran the Toronto Goodlife half marathon, missing my time goal by 2 seconds! My running buddy suggested gels or chomps might give me that little bit of extra energy to hit my goal.

chewsI tried gels, but just couldn’t swallow the viscous liquid while running, so I tried the chewy gummy bear type energy chews. I particularly liked the berry flavored ones that I reminded me of Swedish Berries.

Every 8 km, I would take two or three chews. The chews provided an additional distraction as I spent the next 10 minutes of my run using my tongue to gradually remove the bits stubbornly stuck to my teeth. With these longer training runs, and hot summer weather, I also purchased my first water belt, complete with a pouch suitable for gels or chews.

Race day arrived. I picked up my bib, and was preparing to check my bag. I had my water belt around my waist loaded and ready to go. But, this was a major race (Ottawa Army Run) and there were plenty of water stops along the route. Did I really want to wear this big bulky belt the entire race as I chased my goal time and personal best?

Running Water belt

I could manage without carrying water, but I needed a way to carry the chews. No pockets in my running shorts, that would be too convenient. As a female runner, I did have an option not available to gentleman runners. I threw the water belt into my gear check and decided to toss the packet of chews into my running bra.

Off to my corral, wait for the cannon (they still used a cannon to signal the start at Army Run back then) and off I went. I was holding steady, and I have to say my improvised solution seemed to work just fine! I was able to get the water I needed at the aid stations, and aside from a few startled looks from other runners when I reached into my bra to pull out the package of chews, everything was going to plan! I missed my time goal, but I now had two half marathons under my belt (if I can still use that expression given I left the water belt in my gear check). Surely the experience would get me there eventually.

I hobbled home and hopped into a much needed shower.

Side note: Some of you more experienced runners, likely can anticipate what comes next, but remember I was new to distance running and to the sensation I would shortly experience.

As soon as the hot water hit my upper body I must have leapt a foot straight up into the air! Oh how it burns! It seems the edges of the package bouncing around against my chest caused a bit of chafing! I managed to move out of the spray zone, turn the temperatures down, and position myself to minimize the contact between shower water and two spectacular chafe marks on my chest.

Sketch of shower curtain and shower running and scream of Yikes from behind curtain


So – apparently chafing when running is a thing! Now, as an older and wiser runner, I have my go-to race belt which has a small pouch, elastic loops to hold gels, and bib clips. I also have considerably more experience with the burning sensation that tells me I need to up my anti-chafing regime.

Running belt with bib clips and pouch

Have you got an “oops” or “okay well that happened” running story to share? Please reach out and let me know so we can share it!

Check out the next story in this series “The wardrobe malfunction“.

Happy running, and next time you have a ‘Doh!’ moment, remember, you are not alone!

Check out my other running related posts.