When You’re in a Pinch You Have a Decision to Make

“But my biggest fears come from things like, what happens if I have to, like, go poop? I mean, what do you do? Really. Do you stop or do you just do it?” This comes from Lauren Fleshman as her biggest fear going into the NYC Marathon. I’d have to say that would rank up there in my list of fears should I be entered in a marathon. So today, it’s all about poop.
runner
I have horrible GI issues, my mom too, I guess I inherited some poopy pants in the gene pool. Fair warning, this post may disgust some, but I’m going to put it out there because 1) it is what it is…c’mon, if you’ve been running long enough you’ve experienced this on some level 2) perhaps we can take some solace in the fact that we’ve all been there and 3) maybe we can swap tips and if nothing else stories…oh, let the good times roll.

I remember the first time I had to go on a run; I was with my mom and up until that point I thought the whole pooping behind the bush was just disgusting. But we all have that breaking point…you know, the butt clench waddle, then the feeling of, “I need a bush NOW!” It then becomes more a matter of, it’s either going in a bush or in your pants…what would you rather choose?

From that day on, I’ve cast aside any judgement on making your own personal port-a-loo…and can joke with other runners, “If you go out on a run and someone in the group comes back with one less sock, you just don’t ask questions.” I’ve compared poop stories with the best of them, and what really gets me…what REALLY bugs me is that the blasted ‘issues’ can be so unpredictable…it’s like a nasty game of Russian Roulette, you never know when it will hit.

Will it be in the middle of a hard workout, a long run, or horror of all horrors, a race?! It’s one thing to be nervous about time, place, feeling good, but how about soiling yourself? Not so settling on the nerves.

I know some of it just comes down to the person, I love how Shut Up and Run’s philosophy is just like mine, in that she isn’t afraid to speak the truth. We’re all friends here, we won’t judge, and if you do judge I’m sure your day is coming, just trust me.
road runner
In marathon prep, part of it comes down to finding what works for you fueling-wise, but even then, if you do all things ‘right’ there is the unknown of the GI Monster. Forget the Gila, this thing is far more terrible.

So Lauren poses the question right, “I mean, what do you do? Really. Do you stop or do you just do it?”

Paula Radcliffe had to choose during one of her marathons and she opted for the pop and squat. Over the years I’ve gotten my P&S to a very short interval, so you wouldn’t lose too much time…it’s just a matter of hoping there is the right bush in the right place.

Where do you stand on the issue?

1) Are you going to take part in the poopy debate?

2) Do you admit to the pop and squat, or the bush dive?

3) What would you do in Paula or Lauren’s situation, obviously on their level they wouldn’t be able to hide the fact of either choice?


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11 Comments

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11 Responses to When You’re in a Pinch You Have a Decision to Make

  1. AAAhhh! This is such a fear. Although, I’ll be honest – I’m not fast enough for a 2 minutes break to make a difference, so I think I’d head to a toilet. But on a trail run? Pop and sqaut!

  2. Stephanie

    This was one of my biggest fears going into my first marathon as well, aside from death of course. My loving sister happened to be training for another marathon on the same day and had run a couple before, so she tried to psyche me out with her GI marathon horror stories. Didn’t work though. I’ve mastered my digestive system pretty well for races so that everything’s out by the time the gun goes off. Training runs, however, are a different story. I usually run in the evenings, so it’s not as easy to control what my stomach does. The one good thing about our little town is that there are porta-potties at every park, so I’m usually able to make it to one. I’ve had many close calls though. I also do a lot of workouts at the gym. Sure enough, my warm-up gets things moving and I’m able to go before starting the actual workout. I’ve never done the P&S, but that’s because I can’t go outside, #1 or #2. I have performance anxiety. Usually I’m okay if I have to stop and walk for a sec. Running is what aggravates it. I’ve thought about the P&S many times, but seem to always be near a church or school when this happens, so I refrain.

    • wow, wat a kind sister trying to strike fear into ur bowels…not cool! i’m glad that u didn’t let her faze u and u’ve been able to master ur digestive timing. it’s just sometimes no matter what i do i get ‘unlucky’…and WOW u have my total awe in that u’ve always been able to actually make it to an actual porta-potty! that’s crazy for how many years u’ve run…that’s gotta be a record, keep the streak alive. :)

  3. Jen

    Pop and squat, bush dive, porta potty, I’ve done them all. In a race, however, it would definitely have to be a porta potty….but I’ll never be worried about placing or anything, so time’s not quite as big of an issue.

  4. this is a great topic. haha. and definitely a fear. so far i have been lucky but i am not afraid to stop if needed. no thanks to poopy pants. gross.

  5. Cranky Hamstring

    I’ve never had this issue during any of my 7 marathons. I guess that I know my body well enough to prepare it for what I’m about to put it through. I have pretty much an iron stomach. I haven’t had to do anything other than pee during a run for quite a few years. When it comes to that, I’m a man. The world is my urinal :)

    • SWEET i pulled a comment from the cranky man himself! :) just like i said to steph, i can’t believe how u guys have been able to keep those issues at bay. and i’ve read enough of ur status updates to know u’ve got an ironclad stomach!!

      • Stephanie

        I don’t always keep them at bay. I’ve had some close calls and an actual incident I try not to mention. Too late for that….it was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. High school. In high school, I was a psycho obsessive runner. I mean, I ran on a broken leg just for an example. So psycho that I once refused to stop at a bathroom during a long run and never made it back before I went.

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