Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Rash of Remorse

No, this post isn't on the ongoing financial crisis.

It's about one of my running quirks.

Some people I've mentioned this to find this personal quirk of mine impossibly weird, gross and/or funny. So be warned before you read further.

I cannot go more than 4 consecutive days without running. After 4 consecutive days of no running, the next time I run, I inexplicably break into this strange rash on and around my torso and lower limbs.

It's not really a rash rash. Nothing nasty with hives or ugly red splotches. Instead, I get a generalized itching sensation around my torso and lower limbs. And it drives me crazy; I claw at my skin while I'm running, and I normally stop after about 4 kilometers of this because the itching just makes it impossible to continue. After this initial run, assuming my next run takes place within the next 4 days, I will be fine again. No rash. Not until the next time when I go for more than 4 consecutive days of no running.

My (unsubstantiated) theory on this is that running causes the core body temperature to rise, and this induces the capillaries to the skin to dilate to allow more blood to the surface of the skin. This allows more heat to be lost through conduction. When I go for more than 4 days of no running however, the capillaries return to their more constricted state. Hence, when I return to running, the rapid dilation of the capillaries just below the surface of the skin results in that maddening generalized itching sensation.

I call this personal tic of mine the "Rash of Remorse". In a way, its great because it forces me to run regularly and frequently. However, running is something I would do anyway because I love running. The awful thing is whenever I have to put off running because of overseas trips or injuries. Then the dreaded rash returns. At least for the first run.

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