Runners Are F--king Disgusting! Part 1

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When I grew up, my mother used to tell my siblings and me that if we walked barefoot in a hotel room our feet would turn to stone. So it’s safe to say that I come by my germophobia naturally. When I’m pulling out my gear for an upcoming race, I never forget to grab a small bottle of hand sanitizer lest I have to use a port-a-potty. When I was approaching the shore in swim of my first Half Ironman, I noticed a few competitors doggy paddling and I assumed they were emptying their bladders. I figured I’d do the same, but as a result of my obsessive-compulsive upbringing, a mind simply would not allow me to release the flow of urine in my wetsuit. I guess you can say that hygiene is one of my life’s ultimate truths. And yet, I spend a lot of time running and with runners who have certain habits and practices that would make others recoil.

Consider, for a moment, this woman from Lodi, California, who made it on the news for squatting on a neighbor’s lawn. (See video below)

Here’s the thing…non-running folks are horrified by this story. Runners on the other hand, feel empathy for this woman. We can relate. And in fact, her story may be our collective worst nightmare. What the hell is a runner to do? Some research indicates that running may stimulate the poop mechanism. I’ve had too many close calls to want to recount. My pre-race routine starts by waking up 2-3 hours before leaving for the race, depending on the distance. I give myself so much time primarily to avoid an “emergency.” Immediately, I drink a full cup of funny caffeinated coffee to get things, ahem, moving. And I never leave home without swallowing at least two Imodium to reduce the risk of a Paula Radcliffe impression.

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Paula’s running accomplishments may have been truly groundbreaking, but even she worries that the incident would overshadow her career. And yet, unlike the rest of us, she was racing to win marathons and break world records.

Google “pooping runner” and you’re going to find an extensive shit list. Yeah, I know, as Taro Gomi’s book reminds, us, Everyone Poops. But I guess you can say we are accustomed to a certain poop etiquette. But that all gets flushed down the toilet as soon as you lace up your running shoes and head out the door. If you run long enough, you can start to anticipate your, um, urges. I, for instance, know that I can run right after breakfast but never after dinner. If I NEED to run in the evening, either I’ll eat late, or I’ll run at the gym where I know I can, and most certainly will have to take a potty break mid-run.

If you are new to running, or if you are considering becoming a runner, good for you! I can elaborate on the virtues of running for endless hours. And yet, I caution you, before you get too far from your front door, be “poop aware.” Believe me, you don’t want to gain the notoriety of “The Mad Pooper.” It’ll turn your day to absolute shit.

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