Ah, yes. A post about my gastrointestinal (GI) tract. We all knew this was coming, sooner or later, since it’s often the subject of many a conversation on the run.
I was inspired to write about this because last Saturday, my 14-miler ended pretty abruptly when I first had to start walking because of what felt like knives going through my gut. After a bit of walking and bathroom break #1, I felt a lot better, though I still had some seriously sharp pains in my abdomen. As Jack and I ran a little more, natured called yet again, and by then I had finally realized that my GI was giving me a big “F-U,” middle finger for the morning. 14 miles suddenly, and without any opportunity for me to plead otherwise, suddenly became a lousy 7. This hasn’t happened in a while, so I guess it was “time.” Yet another way that the human body, particularly my own, humbles me…
I read a lot of running-related publications, typically online, and I can say with 100% certainty that I’m not alone when it comes to negotiating, for lack of a better word, with my GI when I want to run or, sometimes, when I’m actually on a run. I’ve read or have heard horror stories or have endured them, myself, when I’m out on a run and suddenly my stomach decides that it’s done for the day. My stomach says “no more miles,” yet my legs cry, “Go on! Go on!” And it’s always the stomach that wins out.
I’ll spare the gory and fairly disgusting details, but suffice it to say that, since I started partaking in all this marathon business in 2007, I have had many a run cut short, and end rather unpleasantly, because of GI issues of some shape or another. At first, I thought it was strictly related to what I was eating immediately preceding my runs, so I got smarter about that — minimize the volume of fiber I had consumed, be really careful with dairy (which is a breeze now, thanks to my vegetarian-yet-vegan-like-tendencies), don’t drink pop or anything carbonated or caffeinated immediately before, go easy on the sugary Gatorade or sports drinks, chase the gels or gus with water, etc. — but sometimes this isn’t enough. Some days it seems like the wind blowing the wrong way can affect the way my innards (again, very scientific, I know) handle all the repetitive pounding that is part of the territory of running and long-distance training. I have often wondered, especially of late, if there is some sort of food allergy or intolerance I have besides those I already know, and it’d probably behoove me to get tested so I can adjust my diet accordingly. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Though I haven’t been marathoning for very many years, I think I’ve gotten smart enough to realize that when my body is trying to tell me something, I better listen…or I could be paying for it, substantially more, later. I was irked that I couldn’t complete my long run on Saturday, yet as the day wore on, my GI freak-out continued, so I figured it was for the better that I didn’t push it. Besides, there will always be other times and days to run. If you don’t take care of yourself wisely, today, you may be jeopardizing your chance to run well, tomorrow.