Thursday, June 27, 2013

Runners and the Runs

WARNING:  Lots of poop-talk from here on out.

So, everybody poops.  Well, runners....they sometimes poop violently.

Every long distance runner has probably experienced this at some point.  You go for a long run and immediately upon returning, you and your royal throne get to have a lot of quality time together.  It just happens.

During my most recent race, To Bone and Back, my team and I discussed different episodes where we all felt that our bowels might publicly betray us at any moment and there wasn't a thing we could do about it.

And then other times, you punch out ten miles and you're completely fine.  No explosions.  No prairie-doggin'.  You feel fine.

So where is the explanation for the runs when you're a runner?  I'm sure most of us have figured out
which foods to avoid before a race or a longer than usual run.  I'm sure most of us have figured out that pre-race anxiety is a sure fire gut buster.  So because most runners have noticed what brings on the vengeful long run diarrhea, I've decided to share with you what I've noticed and how I, sometimes, get to avoid long stints in the bathroom after a race or after a long run.

-  I don't eat anything spicy the whole week before a race.  No Mexican, no pizza, not even garlic.  Those things make my gut work super well all on their own.  Adding a good long, intestine-jostling run to the mix is just suicide.

- I try not to eat too quickly AFTER a run.  I usually like to down a protein shake after a run, but I've learned to wait until I've thoroughly cooled down before I add anything to my stomach juices.

- I try to drink a ton of water several hours before a run and stay well hydrated days before a race.  Having all that water running through me helps me to avoid dehydration which causes diarrhea.   Note:  If you drink a good 16 oz. of water 2 hours before a race, your body will let you pee before the gun goes off, I promise.  Don't NOT drink thinking you'll avoid bladder issues during the race because you could just be bringing on something much worse.

- I slow down.  I've noticed that if I try and go all Rambo on my runs and pick up my pace too fast, my bowels rise up in protest.  So I try to pick up the pace gradually.  If I really want to work on speed, I do intervals so that anytime I'm going faster than usual is only for a short time, not the entire run.

-  I try not to eat much 2 hours before a run or a race.  I've found that if I eat a good dinner the night before, it's enough to fuel me during an early morning run.   For races, I just get up super early so I can eat something well before I need to be at the starting line.

-  I stay away from any food that naturally makes the bowels more efficient.  Think fiber.  Avoid it until after a run.

-  I try not to run when it's hot.  Something about running hard in the heat always hits me later.

- I try to "empty the tank" as it were before a run or a race.

So that is what I've noticed about my body and long runs.  Everyone has different experiences that tell them what to do and not to do.  But then, honestly, despite all your best efforts, you still get the runs.  It's just part of the game.
Then there are freaks that can eat a whole deep dish pizza thirty minutes before a marathon and be just fine and dandy.  
But lest you think you're the only one who may suffer from post-run runs, you are not.  Seriously, bring up the subject of poop with any runner and I'll bet you get an earful of many TMI stories of bowel-tastic fun.

For more medical information on how to avoid the runs while running please visit this link at the Mayo Clinic's website.  

Happy Poop-Free Running!