Fitness for Fat Nerds: Close Encounters With Nature

Since I started exercising regularly, I’ve learned a thing or two about our six-legged insect overlords. First, there’s way, way more of them than there are of us, and we should be thankful every day that they’re still susceptible to the business end of a wadded-up tissue. Second, insects really, when you come down to it, want to be inside us.

This is both more and less disgusting than it sounds. Less, because at least if you live in my part of the world you don’t have to worry about horror movie-esque things like blowflies. More, because it means you spend a lot of time blowing insect parts out of your nose. That’s how they want to get in, you see. You’ll be trotting along on a trail, nodding along happily to some Katy Perry song (because hey, you’re listening on ear buds it’s not like anyone else can hear you and judge) and then out of nowhere something composed of seventeen wings and approximately a thousand legs will fly up your nose. As you are inhaling. And you’ll feel it catapult directly into your sinuses.

If this followed the format of my normal blog posts, now would be the time that I’d give you a bunch of great tips on how to avoid this horrifying eventuality. Sorry, kids. It’s going to happen. Make your peace with it.

Sure, you could avoid close encounters with nature like this by, for example, never leaving the house. If you can manage to do all your exercising inside and still find it interesting, more power to you. That’s not something I’ve ever managed. There aren’t enough books and bad TV shows in the world to make me enjoy running on a treadmill. But if you exercise outside, it’ll happen eventually. Probably sooner rather than later. There are a lot of bugs out there. A lot of them. They’re all like tiny, six-legged old school samurai who have been raised with a romantic philosophy of death, and each and every one of them wants to commit suicide using you.

The first time I ever ran on a track, a small moth darted out of the field and flew up my nose. That was an awesome way to finish my last quarter mile, let me tell you. The first time I ever did the 19 mile trail ride down to Denver on my bike, I inhaled something around mile eight, and it was disturbingly (yet, I’ll admit, fascinatingly) intact when I blew it out of my nose eleven miles later. I had to spend a long moment staring at a puddle of my own snot and wondering if my sinuses have some kind of TARDIS-like quality, where they were actually bigger than my entire head in order to fit a bug that size.

If you’re going to be out for a long time in a place where you’re worried about ticks (or mosquitos), bug spray isn’t a bad idea. (It also helps to wear long sleeves/long pants even if it’s kind of hot; that’s how I hike, since it prevents sunburn as well.) But DEET doesn’t seem to stop the suicidal little bastards that just want to fly up your nose. Maybe the desire for the sweet release of death overpowers the chemical stench.

All you can really do is carry a bit of kleenex with you, if you even have a pocket to put it in. Or make peace with blowing your nose using leaves if the sinus tickle is blinding you. Or use your sleeve. That’s what sleeves are for, people. You’re just going to sweat through them anyway and presumably chuck your shirt in the laundry basket as soon as you get home.

Honestly, I’d much prefer to eat my bugs than inhale them. There’s a lot less snot that way. Hey, meat on the hoof, right? Because that’s also going to happen, especially if you ride a bike. You’re going to eat bugs. Go with it, and swallow quickly, because going 20mph down a narrow trail you’re sharing with pedestrians is not a good time to get distracted by little things like some extra protein in your diet.

And let’s be honest. If you’ve ever eaten a Cheeto, you’ve put something far more disgusting than a gnat in your body. 

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