Tuesday, November 15, 2011

THE RACE: The Crap Factor

The topic of this blog post may seem a bit shocking, but stick with it and I guarantee you that there's a good point.  It's a topic that comes up often among triathletes and runners.  Poop.  Or, I think since we're all adults here, we can give it the more appropriate connotation that it deserves - crap.  (I'll try to keep it PG by saying crap, rather than using the other 4-letter word, but feel free to substitute if you like it better).  Face it - like the children's book says, everyone poops - it's just a natural part of life.  Yet, it's not always kosher to talk about our crap and, because it can be such a taboo subject, many people don't really know how to appropriately deal with their crap.  Unfortunately, it's not just the crap from our gastrointestinal tract with which a lot of us have issues and end up carrying around.  What we can all learn from endurance events like triathlons and running is that you can feel so relieved if you can just figure out how to address your crap and get rid of the crap that weighs you down. So step into my office and let's talk about your crap...

Ever since I started running about 14 years ago, I've had never ending GI issues.  I'll be blunt - I've taken more than my fair share of craps in the woods.  And thank God for McDonald's because even though I don't eat there, I use their restrooms frequently (McD's usually has really clean bathrooms).  I've commiserated with many of my friends about the junk that's ended up in my trunk on long runs.  It's miserable.  Plus, as a vegan now for about 3 years, I eat A LOT of fiber...a lot.  So the GI issues were becoming even more prevalent.  I've had to learn to plot the routes for my long runs in areas where I can hit up the restrooms at least once or twice.  It's just one of the many joys of being an endurance athlete, and I am not alone.

When you're running, it seems to literally jar the crap out of you.  When you're out on a run and you feel that explosive burst of fire about to shoot out your butt, or your stomach starts to cramp up, it weighs you down and takes your focus off your run. Finding a porta potty or bathroom therefore is the most wonderful blessing.  Once you've done your business - expelled the crap - you actually feel lighter and you can get back to the business of focusing on your run.  It's such a relief!  Come on, you know I'm right.  Don't you feel amazingly light and relieved after a good poo?   

Fortunately, over the past year, I've gotten my crap issues a little more under control on my runs.  I realized I was eating way too many calories before and during my runs, and consuming way too much sugar through all the sports drink and Cliff Shot Blocks.  So now I use the sports drink, but then eat potatoes or a particular kind of vegan cookie on my long runs rather than the Shot Blocks.  And I stay far, far away from goo's.  (For those of you who don't know what goo's are, they're little packs of a flavored gel-like substance that's packed full of electrolytes).  Let's just say, the goo makes me poo.
After having been plagued by years by crap on my runs, it's such a relief to have it under control. I still have issues on some days, that's why I continue to plan my long runs around the availability of bathrooms; but, it's nice not to have that crap hanging over my head so that I can just enjoy my run.

Now, let's focus the discussion on the crap in our lives.  Everyone has crap to deal with on a daily basis, whether it's an unfulfilling job, an obnoxious boss, financial stresses, or traffic.  The daily crap with which you deal can weigh you down.  It can divert your focus away from the task at hand and make you less efficient, make your stomach upset, and maybe even make you feel toxic.  Sometimes it may feel like there's no relief in sight - like you're on a long run without a porta potty for miles.  The crap just keeps building up and gets to the point where you feel like you're going to explode.  Well, before you get to that point, why not learn how to control the crap in your life?

Think about how relieved you would feel if you could eliminate some of those heavy, toxic things that weigh you down during the day.  You'd be lighter, better able to focus on the important things or what's right in front of you instead of being distracted by the discomfort of the crap.  Think about what crap is - it's the waste product of the food that our body consumes for energy.  Crap is waste.  So change what goes into your system - your body, mind, and soul - so that you can change what comes out.  Just as I learned to control how much and what I put into my body before a run so that I could control the build-up of crap, you can control what comes into your body, mind, and soul, to literally and figuratively minimize the build-up of crap.

How can you start to control the crap in your life?  Are there things that you can eliminate or control so that you're not weighed down?  Or, if not, can you at least talk about your crap with a good friend?  Sometimes, it's just nice to know that someone else is dealing with their own crap too...Maybe together, you can find a solution or, at least, the nearest bathroom.

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