Marathon Training Week 9 : The Joys of Runner’s Trots

22 Jul

10 weeks to go…

My Plan

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What Actually Happened

This week was one of those good/bad weeks; good in the fact that I successfully completed each of the required runs at a reasonable pace and bad because it was a struggle to complete each run.

It had been another warm week and I did not sleep very well at all which meant that I struggled to get out of bed at 5:30am for my morning run. I was tired and lethargic during my runs as well so I had to push myself harder each kilometer than I would have normally.

On Wednesday morning I took the interval training on the road. I was a little bit silly and probably ran a little too fast (around 5:45 min/km) considering I was on the road and not on the grass, but I am fighting the overwhelming urge to run faster than I should. As I am getting more kilometers under my belt and as my legs are getting stronger (touch wood!) I want to run faster and to try again to aim for my 4hr marathon. My shins were a bit sore after this fast run so I know that I am not there yet. The Friday run was fairly uneventful. It was a struggle because I was tired and I was not in the right mood but I did what was required and recovered well again after the run.

On Saturday we helped a friend move house. She actually moved into our apartment and will be living with us for the next 6 weeks before she returns to Canada (boo!). I was on my feet all day until 8pm (very unusual since I have a desk job), cleaning the old apartment, moving boxes, running back and forth, on and off trams with suitcases etc, so needless to say my shins were aching on Saturday night. Nothing that an episode of Masterchef and lie down of the couch couldn’t fix though 🙂 Sunday morning and I was up at 5am again for a morning run. It was forecast to be 30 degrees and I desperately wanted to avoid an afternoon run however I was scheduled on to help out at church that morning which meant being ready at 9am hence the 5am wake up call. I had estimated that it would take me 2.5 hours to run the 22km at the suggested 6:50min/km pace and with the intention of being back home by 8am I set off at 5:30am. This week I was again running laps of the rugby field but it was an absolutely glorious morning with not a single soul in sight so I was thoroughly enjoying my run. I had even been able to empty my bowel the night before so I was pretty sure that I would not need to make a toilet stop this week. Boy was I wrong and at 11km I made my pit-stop. Since this is becoming quite a regular occurrence, I thought I would dedicate this post to this awful topic (apologies in advance). A bit more on that in a minute. I ran the first 11km at around 6:20min/km and the second half at an average pace of 6:10 min/km (again fighting the urge not to run faster). This was the first run where my legs (in general) have start to feel heavy and protesting and the last 4-5km were very tough indeed.  I finished in 2h18min which I was reasonably happy about. I did also spend the day in my compression tights which I can say has resulted in a very minimal tightness in my legs today. Seriously the best purchase ever!

Runner’s Trots

Ok, so I’m all for being lady-like and all, but what I’m about to talk about is not pretty. And seriously, “the joys of Runner’s Trots”?

It is certainly no joyous occassion when loose bowels and the resultant sense of urgency to find a bathroom (known as “runner’s trots”) hits. For some it is just a grumbling sensation, pain in the stomach, or sense of bloating, but for others, toilets must be publicly accessible at regular intervals. To date, I have had several sudden urges whilst on my long runs, two of which have ended badly (due to lack of toilets / bushes) and on one of those two bad occasions a passerby pointed and laughed at me. So icky just thinking about it (apologies to all you reading this). This last week it struck me at around the 8/9km mark which is about normal for me. I pushed it out for an additional 3 uncomfortable kilometers before I dashed to the toilet at 11km. As I have needed to use the toilet in a state of desperation these last two weeks, I figured it was time to do some research on this topic and it seems that there are quite a lot of people (25-50% in fact), particularly runners, triathletes and women (uh oh!), that suffer from this but very little is known about its causes and even less research is / has been done. As one article said “this is not only disruptive in training and competition, but is also stressful and can diminish an athlete’s confidence and performance“. Damn straight!

So what is known about it? What are the so-called “causes”? Check out this table:

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Adapted from Wright et al. 2009

Dehydration, high intensity exercise, general dietary factors and other forms of gastrointestinal symptoms (such as irritable bowel syndrome or food allergies) are most often claimed to be culprits. I’ve been through list after list of things you should and shouldn’t do/eat/drink and for me personally, I’m leaning towards one of the dietary factors being a problem. I don’t drink coffee, I don’t eat before I run, I have a regular mid-afternoon poop routine during the week, I don’t have any food allergies or things that upset my stomach, I’m not on any medication, I don’t drink sports drinks, I’m always well hydrated and I’m not on any medication. Obviously being young and being a female doesn’t help (for whatever reason) but what I do think could be a problem is eating too much fibre and fruit on Saturday’s before my run on Sunday’s as I have learnt that it takes between 20 to 30 hours for your food to go from one end (mouth) to the other end (other end). I will start a weekend food log to track what I am eating and what could be the problem foods and I will commence by eliminating all fibre and fruit on Saturday and Sunday to see what happens.

I have an emergency stash of toilet paper in a zip-lock bag shoved down my shorts for moments such as these. So, fellow sufferer of the trots, rest assured that you are not alone.

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