Does a Runner Shit in the Woods?

Posted: May 12, 2014 in Lifestyle, Run
Tags: , ,

WARNING:  This post contains questionable subject matter involving more feces (click HERE or HEREtake your pick).

Today marks a drastic change in my typical weekly training schedule, namely, early morning workouts.  And not the usual mid-morning workouts I typically do and have become accustomed to, but those early morning pre-dawn workouts that up to now I thought only crazy people did.  Well, no more.  With my return to working at the office regularly, I am now forced to squeeze (pun intended – read on) some workouts, primarily running and swimming, to the early ass crack of dawn prior to leaving for the office.  Goodie.  Today was the start of that transition process beginning with a long run.

I already know that the hardest part of any morning workout is simply getting out of bed and I’ve made peace with that.  However, I learned this morning (the hard way I might add) that there are other things I will now need to consider before heading out the door.

To prepare for this morning run I did as much as I could last night to minimize my having to do much.  I laid out my clothes (for both my run as well as work once I’d returned home and showered) and running shoes, pre-set my Garmin, prepped my pre-run breakfast, selected my running music on my iPod (click HERE) and set the alarm for stupid o’clock before turning in early.  Thankfully, everything went like clockwork; I rose on time, threw a bit of kibble in the cats bowl to keep them happy and quiet, devoured my small bowl of oatmeal that Kelly prepared for me the evening before, dressed and, Bob’s your uncle, I was out the door and hitting the pavement by 5:30am on the dot.  Booyah!

I was quite proud of myself.  Maybe this early morning nonsense wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Yeah, right.

Anyway, my first realization is that, like my mind, apparently, m y body also needs time to wake up.  I hadn’t noticed this in the pool so much, but it wasn’t until 3-4 kilometers into my run when my legs decided that they too were finally alive and kicking.  This wasn’t such a big deal as I hadn’t planned for anything beyond an easy pace, but for those days when I’ve planned for something more energetic like a quick-paced tempo or speed workout, I may have to give myself a bit more time to loosen up before I get to business.  Noted!

Aside from this, the early stages of the run were quite pleasant.  I turned onto Thunder Bay Rd. from my home and ran directly into the most amazing pink and orange sunrise and it continued like this for the first 6-7 kilometers as I ran along the lake along MacDonald Dr. and the dawn spread out before me like an incredible landscape painting in progress.  There was little to no traffic to worry about, birds were singing and all the local critters were still out and about feasting on dewy grass by the side the road.  There were lots of bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, deer and even a pair of gorgeous orange orioles that accentuated the colors of dawn nicely.  It was running through a Group of Seven painting; not at all shabby at all.

So for the first half of the run things went smoothly.  Then, I felt the first grumblings of trouble brewing in my stomach…quite literally.  Running in the mid-morning/early afternoon allowed me to have something to eat, have a cup of coffee and pass my morning constitutional well before needing to go outside and work out, so I never really had to experience this, well, let’s call it a ‘sensation’.

Around the half way point of my run, or about the 50 minute mark, I started to worry a little.  Surely it would pass.  Wouldn’t it?  God, let it pass.  But no!  A few kilometers more and a few passed farts later and my concern shifted to panic as serious cramps began to set in.  I realized at that moment that there was no way I was ever going to make it home without having to lighten the load, so to speak.

My error this morning was that I never figured that what tiny amount of food I did put into my gut prior to leaving would ever really amount to anything but, oh, how wrong I was.  As it turns out, despite what little I might have had in my stomach, that constant up and down movement of running coupled with my body’s temperature increasing as my legs woke up and my pace increased, well, it all serves to churn things up a bit.  Think about it as a bit of an egg beater effect, just kind of emulsifying the bowel contents, including what still might be left in my system from the previous evening.  Likewise, even just a little food – even the small unsubstantial bowl of oatmeal I had – can kick start the whole gastrointestinal process.  This was probably the case this morning so that by the time I had laced up my runners and headed out I was quite literally a ticking time bomb ready to go off so before I knew it and well beyond the point of no return, my bowels had fully developed into a minor Krakatoa-like incident just begging to go off.  And go off it did.  Big time.

The good news was that when the zero hour arrived, I was still out in the middle of nowhere and there was lots of wooded area and brush to duck into.  I knew that if I tried to avoid the inevitable and make it further up the road I would have run out of options and probably would have ended up crapping myself in the middle of the road, so I decided to cut my losses, nip off the side of the road and take care of business.  Not ideal, but what choice did I have? So I found a spot, dropped my tights and braced myself for the unpleasant task at hand.

I have heard that pooping in the woods is quite pleasurable.  I know of other runners who can squat and unload in a 2 ft. boxwood if necessary but, clearly, I am not one of these people.  The whole thing was rather awkward what with the tights, the iPod wires, etc.  It was nasty.  From the vantage point of looking between my legs, the whole action kind of resembled one of those gnarly birthing videos you might see on the National Geographic channel.  I was both shocked and repulsed and – oddly – a bit proud.  I’m sure that if there were any animals secretly hiding nearby witnessing this whole debacle, however, I have surely scared them for life.

Then it hit me that I now had a much bigger problem on my hands.  What the hell was I going to wipe my ass with? Being so early into the spring season there was still no leaves, leafy vegetation or any other similar materials with which to clean up and didn’t relish trying to wipe my ass with a stick so, unfortunately, there was nothing left to do but pull up my tights and carry on carrying on, shitty ass n’ all.  Gross.  I ended up cutting my run short to make this uncomfortable shuffle home (through a now fully awake downtown core no less) in complete and total shame with a severely damaged pride.  Definitely not an experience I ever care to repeat.  No sir, anything short of a clean, ceramic toilet seat and daily paper and I am not a happy camper pooper.

So now what?

First, I am going to begin carrying some emergency toilet paper in a little baggie – full stop – particularly on these long morning runs should I need to do them again.  Secondly, I’m definitely going to have to figure out a better strategy for eating and pooping in the early morning that, hopefully, doesn’t include me needing to get up earlier than I already have to.  I mean 5:00am is early enough don’t you think?

So, yeah, eat less?  Eat earlier?  Don’t eat at all?  Or maybe just keep the long stuff for any other time of the day other than early mornings.  I dunno.  The whole thing is pretty shitty if you ask me…literally.

Isn’t running fun?

  1. n says:

    i always run early morning and have trained my body. as soon as i leap out of bed i drink a glass of water. i think it’s about 16oz. that seems to get everything moving. i give myself about 1/2 hour before i leave the house. i let the dogs out, feed them, and really only eat something very small before i run. if you’ve eaten enough for dinner you don’t need much before a run because your glucose stores should be good. i usually have a banana or a hard boiled egg and some juice. i eat breakfast when i’m done. my bathroom habits are like clockwork every morning. maybe you should try getting your body on a schedule like that? you’ll have to do the same thing every morning tho’… i do the same thing every morning even if i don’t run. with the exception of eating more food if i’m not running. good luck! i enjoyed reading your post about the crabby dude and the sticker hate.

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