Waiting for a marathon is kind of like waiting to have a baby. I am less than 48 hours away from the finish line and it feels likes a lot of “hurray up and wait” at this point. Brings back memories of being 9 months pregnant waiting for the big day to arrive with excitement, nervousness and dread. And having to navigate through my days with pre-marathon brain is a challenge in itself. Having pre-marathon brain is much like having baby brain…hard to focus on anything except the task at hand, forgetfulness with emotions swinging from “I am strong! I can do this” to “oh no, I can’t do this, it’s gonna be way too hard.” And yet, when having a baby you have no choice in the matter…it’s happening whether you want it to or not. But at least there are some good meds:) In running a marathon, I do have a choice and there are no meds that I have found which make this any easier each time I step up to the start line. Being well-trained, rested and well-fueled makes all of the difference but it still really comes down to….wait for it…wait for it…..poop. Also just like approaching labor, it’s all about the poop.
Anyone that has ever waited for a race to begin (or labor for that matter) knows all too well that the very first thing you think about that day is when & where nature will take it’s course. (Of course, in labor…you are hoping it’s not on the delivery table for all to witness. I’ve had 4 kids, no comment.) We know by now that running and exercise is good for maintaining regular habits. ( you know which habits I’m speaking of.) There is even a theory that regular running may decrease the incidence of colon cancer. All good but when you gotta go and it’s wrecking your game….it’s horrible. I have been caught many times with my game wrecked…making deals with the devil, god, my deceased ancestors and anybody that will listen…to let me find a bathroom of any kind asap! And you know that good feeling when you see there in the distance, shimmering like a pot of gold…an outhouse! Never are you so excited to see that blue paneled loo or pot-o-let, words that sound much fancier especially when said with an english accent. I pray, “just please don’t be locked. I promise to floss 7 nights a week instead of only 4.” Relief at last!
An estimated 60-100% of runners have “runner’s trots” that can occur during or after their exercise. As a Sports Nutritionist, my family…especially the teenagers, loathe the fact that I get to lecture to large groups of people about peeing and pooping! I explain that is an important part of being an active person and as you age things change. This is when they tell me they have heard enough and leave the room. The reasons for runner’s trots are not known for sure but may be due to the up and down motion of running along with the flow of blood being diverted to your legs and away from your intestines. Add in some dehydration and too many sugary sport drinks/foods and you too will be looking for the next port-o-let.
A few tips on prevention:
* Try to avoid eating for at least one hour before you exercise – the presence of food in the stomach will make things worse or contribute to the problem. Get to know your own digestion, see what works best for you & how much time you need pre-run to digest.
* Try to avoid the intake of caffeine and warm fluids as it is possible for this to speed up the movement of waste through the intestines.
* Make sure to limit your intake of dairy products, particularly if susceptible to diarrhea.
* Limit high-fiber foods in the days before a long race/run.
* Avoid the foods that you know cause problems.
* Drink plenty of fluids. It is best to drink a full 16 oz. of water an hour before your workout, giving the excess fluid time to pass through, and start off well-hydrated.
Design your training routes to include a restroom. And of course, consider a medical check-up and be open in discussing your problem with your medical practitioner. Remember, poop happens. At some point, EVERY runner experiences these problems. They are usually easily solved with a few adjustments in your habits.
And just like waiting to give birth, I am looking forward to being on the other side of this race. I can’t wait to eat & drink what I want again, run a quick hour with friends and have my brain back in one piece. Unlike giving birth, once you have that baby…the job just begins. At least I know, the night after the race I will sleep like a baby. I will see you on the other side.