For the Intestinally Challenged Runner


There are those days which runners inevitably face. Hot days, humid days, tired days, hormonal days, rainy days with puddles, Mondays, days your knees hate you, days when your bladder won’t shut up, and days which you lack intestinal fortitude.

For this runner, today was all of those days.

If you are reading this and are the kind of person who shies away from knowing way too much about the writer, then stop reading now. For that matter, leave my blog and never return. I might have a problem with boundaries. Fair warning.

I pride myself on being a resilient person, one who has faced many obstacles and has overcome them. I believe I am a strong woman. I have biceps, for Christssake. I do not, however, have an impenetrable strength of bowel.

I have discussed this issue with medical professionals. And my husband. And my sisters. And the girls at work. And people in my Zumba class. And random people on busses. It has been determined that the issue is likely caused by a medication I take, in conjunction with my deep, abiding love of beef lo-mein.

Sidenote on the beef lo-mein. The new Chinese place in town is great. I know this because they have good beef lo-mein. The only Chinese food I eat is beef lo-mein, and thus if that particular dish is good, the whole place is great. My husband does not partake of any type of Chinese food, and so I really only order my beef lo-mein when he isn’t around. This summer he has been doing more projects away from home and I have been able to indulge in my epicurial passion a bit more frequently. So frequently in fact that a few weeks ago, the nice lady at the counter said to me, “You here two days ago. Order same ting. Ha ha.” Therefore the next two times I ordered it, I sent other people to get it for me, like some back-alley drug deal. I couldn’t find a middle man last week, so I went in at a busy time, hoping she wouldn’t notice me. As soon as I got to the counter, she lit up. “OH! BEEF LO-MEIN! LONG TIME NO SEE!” So. Apparently I have a problem.

But as to the problem of today’s lousy run, the combination of a stressful rain-delay, then a tremendous amount of heat and humidity, and yesterday’s beef lo-mein was the trifecta. In the past, the problem of a fussy tummy was reserved for a) running hungover or b) running stupid distances. As I age, however, this is no longer necessarily the case. At the end of today’s first mile, I felt the need to, um, admit the possibility of defeat and I turned around and ran home. I hate when this happens, but I’ve learned a few things in my years of being a runner, and one of those things is that you just don’t ignore certain bodily signals.

A couple of months ago, in the midst of an 8 mile training run leading up to a half-marathon, I was reminded of just that. I was having a great run. My knees felt good, I was doing great cardio-wise, and the weather was amazing! I was admiring the beauty of the landscape when….OH. OH NO. I came to a dead stop. Not a slow down, walk, then stop, but a dead stop. The familiar groaning and cramping of my stomach told me that I needed to stop whatever I was doing and get to a bathroom, to which I replied, “Look around, stomach. We are in the middle of freaking nowhere.” Behind me, a gas station was a mile away. In front of me, my house was a mile away. There was no choice but to call my husband and have him pick me up. The phone rang, then went to voice mail. And that was that. I would have to squeeze my butt cheeks together and penguin-walk home. Then, to my right, I noticed the most beautiful assisted living center I had ever laid eyes on. I only had to waddle a hundred yards or so before I could sweetly but very anxiously ask their lovely receptionist if I could totally destroy their restroom. Well, I didn’t exactly put it that way.

Just like in life, there will always be better days running, and there will always be worse. An old Irish blessing says, “May the road rise to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. And may there be an Amoco with a clean toilet just up the block.” Or something like that.

79 thoughts on “For the Intestinally Challenged Runner

  1. Hilarious! well written and any serious runner will relate to this one. And for those thinking of taking to running, do pay attention to the last paragraph😎
    do follow me on buttrview. wordpress. com

  2. I also can relate. Unfortunately “enjoyed” a colonoscopy this week. Best of luck!

  3. This made me smile!

    For me it’s something about the smell of grocery stores. I can’t tell you how many grocery store bathrooms I’ve visited. They always seem to be deep in the back near carts of surplus hamburger buns and sliced bread.

  4. Oh my! Your post brought back one of my most embarrassing moments. I won’t go into the details…
    Even so, I enjoyed your post. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  5. Omg, that blissful moment when a random port-a-potty pops up in the distance! Seriously. Just a thought – have you ever tried drinking a little coffee before you head out the door? Not a lot, maybe a teeny amount of sugar, definitely no cream and, if you don’t drink black coffee, plugging your nose helps a little. BUT (no pun intended), it does help things “move along,” if you will so you, too, can move along. 🙂

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