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Runs vs Runs
A ticking time-bomb
***Warning: If you are in the middle of eating this may not be the best article to read at the moment -- UNLESS you are planning on going jogging later. If that’s the case, keep shoveling in the food and read on.
Many of us have heard of the occasional marathoner who while making the finish line, didn’t make it to the toilet in time. Some people think that to continue to go the distance with a stain on the seat is a badge of courage, while others can’t fathom why anyone would want to continue in such a state. The mere idea of offering such a runner a congratulatory hug after the race, even if she/he were our own relative, may be cringe-worthy. Obviously, no one wants for this to happen, but sometimes despite how hard the mind fights to keep a tight rein on the situation, the bowels are just going to let loose.
I was probably six years old when my dad told me for the first time that, “you never see a constipated runner.” Despite the fact that he has no medical expertise whatsoever, I have found his advice to be true. Unfortunately for me, his words of wisdom used to become especially valid when I was going on a jog and was a couple of miles away from home, with stomach full of duress; and I was nowhere near a bathroom. Then these words of my father would infiltrate my head like a ticker streaming on the TV warning of severe thunderstorms nearby. I would then find myself praying that there wouldn’t be any flash flooding occurring on my end. With my stomach rumbling I knew if I didn’t sprint home in time, there could be serious trouble.
While I was never forthright in asking my fellow runner friends if they have had similar troubles with their bodily system on a run, I have learned over the years that this is not an uncommon problem for joggers to have. From the research I have done on the matter, there doesn’t seem to be a single cause as to why this happens. Rather, there are a few different possibilities that could be acting independently, or together, which result in a colossal colon-related problem. Some of these conditions include: extreme exercise causing blood to flow away from the intestines, the up and down motion of running can serve as a trigger for the bowels, and the type of food previously inputted can also affect one’s temperament of output.
What to do
While I’ll never press my luck by declaring I’ve completely mastered this issue, over the years I’ve been pretty successful in combatting this problem. I’ve tried a variety of tricks, and below are some tips that I think are useful in terms of helping someone run with peace of mind, rather than running for the toilet:
-keep your system in a routine- In the scheme of life, we seem to be more efficient and effective when we keep to a schedule. Our bodies are the same way. Granted life doesn’t always allow us to stick to a running schedule, but if possible, I think it is beneficial. By constantly running at the same time of day, over time our body and bowels will also be trained and respond accordingly. Hopefully in a harmonious world, the bowels will know that a jog is on the docket, and will be able to execute accordingly beforehand.
-one cup of coffee –Not one pot! In the morning, it is nice to start the day with a cup of coffee. It wakes us up and gives us the courage we need to want to continue with the rest of the day. If you are a morning jogger, that cup of coffee can also stimulate the bowels, in addition to the mind. And while that one cup is a great catalyst for the day, having too much is not a good thing. Consuming a plethora of cups may lead to dehydration and lead to the very crappy situation you are trying to avoid.
-Eat clean before you run – If you know are going to go running tomorrow morning, eat clean tonight. Watching the big game on TV is a lot more enjoyable when you have a few beers and a big warm vat of Velveeta in front of you. But don’t do it. You WILL pay for it on your run and then you’ll be sorry.
Analyze your Energy Bars- Of course they all have healthy-sounding buzz words on the packaging such as “protein,” “electrolytes,” and “natural,” but are they truly healthy for you? With the (lacking) amount of healthy ingredients some of these bars contain, one might as well eat a row of Oreos. While not every bar works for everyone, I have found Bonk Breaker bars result in a runs-free run. They are Gluten-free (and I am not necessarily a rider on the Gluten-free bandwagon) and seem to be more easily digestible than a lot of the other bars out there.
Make a note of when you eat last – Eating a huge meal and then going for a three mile run is probably a bad idea. This could definitely cause your stomach to have some serious backlash on your back end. It is generally recommended to wait at least two hours after a big meal before lacing up the sneakers.
H2O, H20, H2O! We are constantly being bombarded by the medical experts to drink our water, and it is especially important in avoiding a diarrhea-inducing run. I have found that moderation of water intake throughout an entire jog helps to keep the system hydrated without overloading the stomach. If you are someone who forgets to drink water, I highly recommend getting a running belt that holds water bottles, along with a watch. Making sure you drink water at seven to ten minute intervals is a good way to keep your system hydrated and happy.
Reserve a seat – Lastly, if you are one who is prone to colon catastrophe when you run, plan accordingly. Until the problem improves, perhaps run close to home. If you run once or twice and week and have a single toilet, don’t do any major bathroom renovations that day. Having to go next door and use your neighbors’ bathroom right after a jog can make future run-ins with them rather awkward. While we all want to leave our mark in the world, there are probably other things we’d like others to remember us by.