“GI Issues”

I can’t believe I’m writing about this. But this is mostly a running blog. And this is an important topic to runners. If you’re not a runner, you’ll probably think I’m really weird for writing about this topic. If you are a runner, you’ll probably think “yup, been there.”

At least the world record holder for the women’s
marathon stopped on the side of the road.

Anyway. Introduction:

I’ve always been fascinated/confused by the fact that it’s common for marathoners to pee (or worse) on themselves during a race. Given that most longer races have port-a-potties along the way, I never understood why someone would rather go on themselves than stop.

(However, I was reading a recent Chicago Marathon recap post, and that runner did pee on herself near the end, but she was on track for a fantastic race – she Boston Qualified on her first marathon. Plus she said with all the water she drank before/during the race, her pee was pretty diluted. So I started to understand a little bit more why someone would do that.)

Also, I love how runners refuse to use the word “poop” and instead use the phrase “GI issues.”

Well, during today’s run, I had “GI issues.” (Spoiler alert: it ended well.)

I used to have a rule when I had to do a longer run. Wake up, eat breakfast, wait for nature’s call, then go for your run.

Lately I’ve been forgetting that last step.

Today it finally caught up with me.

I headed to one of my favorite forest preservers, which has a 1.8 mile point-to-point trail, with lots of shade, and some hills, and a creek. Very pretty. I was going to run it there-and-back twice for 7.2 miles.

I started off feeling awesome. Pushing my pace and feeling great. Made it to the other end and turned around.

Then, when I was around mile 2.5, I got the urge.

I told myself, you’re a mile from the parking lot (where there is a restroom), you’ll be fine.

I kept running. The urge got more persistent. I went faster. It got worse. I went faster still. I passed people along the trail and wondered if they could tell I was in agony.

(I also thought to myself if it wasn’t such a nice day and the trail was empty … )

I got within a quarter mile of the parking lot, turned the last curve out of the trees, and in the distance, saw the restroom. I had one last uphill to get there.

I went faster still. Well as much as I could go faster going uphill.

I don’t know if the closer you get to relief, the stronger the urge gets. Because it got stronger. I got worried. I thought to myself “Oh my God, you are 29 years old and you are going to crap in your shorts.”

But I made it. I did not crap in my shorts.

Thank God.

Because I really wanted to do the second lap through the forest. Plus I was wearing brand new shorts.

Anyway, I did my second lap. And felt much better. And I did it 40 seconds faster (which is great, considering the second lap didn’t include my sprint to the restroom).

However, it occurred to me that most races have port-a-potties every other mile. MAYBE every 1.5 miles if you’re lucky. I didn’t get the urge until I was about a mile from the restroom. And, had I not been so close … well, I was in the woods.

BUT now I understand why someone might crap in their shorts during a race.

And from now on I will be patient before my longer runs, and wait for nature’s call. Because as most runners know, the best way to get things moving is to go for a run.

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