Looking Out For #1...and #2

So last week I ran about 36 miles.  Wasn't quite what I wanted to do but my right hamstring started bothering me after an 8 mile run on Thursday morning and the smoke from the Santa Barbara fire played some havoc with my lungs.  But that's o.k.  Felt good this morning.

So you get up at 5:30 a.m. one morning for an hour long run.  You roll out of bed, splash some water on your face, gear up, lace up, drink some water, force a piece of toast or banana down, and take off.  You don't really have a lot of time to lounge around, have a cup of coffee, read the paper.  You just wanna take off and get your run in.

The plan is to run for half an hour in one direction, then turn back around, an "out and back" course. You generally start out slow to work into the run, so your plan is actually to run more like 32 minutes on the way out, figuring you will speed up a bit on the way back.

Twelve minutes into the run you pass a public park with restrooms.  You kind of feel like you need to stop but decide you can "hold it" for now.  At the 25 minute mark you realize maybe you should have stopped at the park, for not just #1 but #2 reasons.  But you are determined to run the full 32 minutes so you keep going.

At 26 minutes your internal organs feel like a can of Coke shaken hard.  You realize that a decisive action must take place, either beeline back to that park, roughly 13 minutes, or almost 2 miles away, find somewhere else, or explode.

At this point you could care less how far you run.  You just want relief.  So you veer left as you recall a construction site a few blocks over.  Briefly you ponder ducking behind the dumpster by Vons down the road but quickly decide the it wouldn't be worth the risk of getting caught, aheming, in public.

So your steps become noticable shorter as you do your best to restrain the contents of your innards, running ballerina style, and yes, there's the construction site!  But NOOOO... the gate is locked!!!  Arrggghhhh!!!  Thankfully though, you see an opening on the other side and with your lean runner physique manage to squeeze into the gap and manage your way to the porta-john.

Without any more thought you find the relief you were looking for.  Then look over and realize there is no T.P. in the porta-john. 

So as you jog back home, with socks missing, you think, I gotta plan this out better.

Paula Radcliffe, the current women's marathon record holder, had this problem in the 2008 Olympics.  She made a beeline for the porta-potty and finished 23rd.

Used to happen to me all the time too.  Funny, but no laughing matter when you're stuck in the middle of nowhere, or worse yet...SOMEWHERE...and you are unprepared!

So here is my list of things to prepare yourself for when nature calls:

1. Try to time things such that you don't need to "go" in the middle of a run.  Yes, easier said than done I know.  But if you are able to take care of business before you run, that is the best solution.

2. Be careful what you eat.  No doubt in my mind that runners are more "regular" than non-runners because of the jarring motion of running.  In general that means that thing will go through you faster and sometimes unexpectedly.  So before you down that extra lump of wasabi, cup of salsa or bowl of 100% Bran Flakes, ponder the impact on your innards the next day.

3. Plan your runs such that you will have pit stops along the way if needed.  Or if you REALLY have some problems, consider running a loop near your house so you can make a pit stop there.  I have found the most success with this approach. Approximately 10 to 12 minutes into my run, I've resolved my issues and am ready to really start running.

4. Bring items that will enable you to complete your uh, little mission, in an appropriate way.  In other words, consider stuffing some T.P. in your pocket.

5. Wear Depends on your run.  (OK, I'M JUST JOKING!)

OK, now that I've given you all this wonderful information, get on out there and start running!!