Toilet: Friend or Foe?

How you view your toilet relationship can either make or break your day.

Through trial and many errors I’ve corrected the most annoying causes of slow and/or just unprepared runs. Although it can be discouraging to see patterns, take responsibility and plan ahead to prevent them, but it’s possible! One of the most important has been the topic that most people, especially females, don’t talk about: Toilet time. Runners have to embrace the relationship with the toilet because it directly sits between you and your exercise goals. Until the bathroom obstacles are ironed out, it will really be frustrating to get any type of run done – regardless of time of day.

The reason people drink coffee before a run, isn’t only for the caffeine.. it’s to speedup the bowel movements. Someone asked me recently, how many times I stop to use the bathroom during the marathon. I chuckled because, ZERO! I do not stop DURING the marathon to use the bathroom because in training I know how many times it takes me to be able to run 20 miles with no bathroom… and I wake-up with enough time to calmly handle that before my activity.

When Roger started running back in 2008, he’d take toilet paper with him & as a semi-supportive non-interested girlfriend at the time, I thought it was the grossest thing to even think about.  Now that I have gotten into cycling as well, I know that toilet paper is essential part of a training toolkit to: Clean your hands if your chain falls, tissue for your nose, bathroom in the bushes, or clean up blood if you crash.

When I roll out of bed and start my run with zero preparation, it takes exactly 2 miles to need to poop.  If I drink water and wake up 15 mins before, then the Mile 2 bathroom pit stop is clear. By adding at least a 15 minute of warm-up activity before your workout begins, you’ll be able to cross off any remaining toilet issues from a 1-hour session.  Another alternative to coffee induced bowels is to just drink a glass of water when you wake up, and wait. I love not using the bathroom during a run MORE than sleep, it’s worth it.

Pre-Run Dinner

Of course the morning bathroom status depends on the meals the previous day. In training, I also learn what to eat and what not to eat during peak training season when running on consecutive mornings. I notice when I skip meals, or eat junk instead of a balanced nutritious meal, it makes me irregular which changes my body’s performance limitations and how my body feels in general.

What’s your number?

In my run today, I went before leaving home then I drank a coffee, which wasn’t early enough before my run to be able to process the consequences. As a result, I ended up having to go multiple times during the run… and each time I continued running I went faster, felt lighter, felt more agile. The body doesn’t care WHEN the bowels happen, it just cares if it happens.  All you do is get up early, much earlier, and go as many times as your body needs to BEFORE the run.

Based on today’s test and the last few years, I think I have a chart lined up:

  • Low fiber meals & Irregular bowels during the week: 10+ minute miles
  • 1 daily bowel: 9 minute miles
  • 1 bowel before the run: 8 minute mile
  • 2 bowels before the run: 7 minute mile
  • 3-4 bowels before the run: 6 or lower minute mile
  • 5+ bowels is diarrhea and you shouldn’t run or go into a pool for 14 days.

The toilet relationship can be peaceful, as long as you respect it’s boundaries. Do not ignore that the toilet is part of the RUN session.  You must live out the consequences of waking up last minute or eating poorly the night before, by being forced to make nature your bathroom wherever it feels like.  You can conquer this, you can control this.  Respect the toilet time & rules, and in turn, you’ll have light, agile and faster run efforts.

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