Freeze column: When out running, what do you do when the need arises?

  • Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, June 18, 2012 3:32 a.m.

By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
Several times in my classes or coaching for beginning runners, I have been asked a very important question. Regular runners often explore the best answer to this question. For sure, if you spend any time running at all, youíll begin to work on the answers yourself. I myself have explored the answer over 33 years and nearly 70,000 miles on the road.
The big question regularly asked is this. What do you do when you have to use the bathroom while out running? For non-runners, here are a few facts. Runners often eat a lot, more than the average person. Simply burning the extra calories, as many as 100 per mile, allows some extra eating. During some of my highest mileage training, I was eating as much as 4500 to 5000 calories a day, and still maintaining a weight around 140 pounds. Another fact is that running or high intensity exercise increases the digestive systemís pace to push the food on through the body. Important also is that runners drink more and usually eat more high fiber foods than others. Bottom line, the chance is pretty good that a runner is eventually going to have some Ďneed to goí distress.
This column was prompted not only by questions from others, but also from my own experience during my regular run on Sunday morning. It was just a little late on Saturday evening when I stopped to get a Veggie Delite Subway sandwich after delivering a load of hay. The sandwich was great along with a couple of oatmeal raisin cookies and I had plenty of water to drink too.
Once one of my female running friends from Woodleaf and I had a discussion about what we need to do, just in case. One of the best ways is to carry a small roll of toilet paper, tucked in the waistband of our running shirts. Just in case! When you run long enough, and especially if you are out in the rural areas, there will come a time. Running in town offers a lot more traditional options. I mentioned a female friend and her own plan, though sometimes women are a little different and have other abilities. It only took a few marriages to confirm this. Women sometimes donít want to use the rural facilities, and will run for several long miles back to a house, willing to run a little funny and concentrating on the issue at hand.
Back to Sunday morning. I left the house feeling just fine, after having done both No. 1 and No. 2. Before I made it a mile, I had the need to do both again, and I hadnít carried the toilet paper. But as luck would have it, right beside me was a nice cornfield. Since 5:45 a.m. is in daylight on June 17 due to the longer days, there were lots of choices and plenty of places to hide if need be. Let me say that tops on my list of TP substitutes would be corn leaves. They are big, thick, numerous, and even better than the 4 ply stuff from the store.
Feeling a little lighter, my pace picked up and down the road I went. As I think back now, I only met one car and it was our local newspaper lady. Saw her a few times and continued to push the pace toward the turnaround point. By now the sun is up and at just about 3 miles those same two urges came back again. I canít remember the last time that two pit stops were required on the same run.
This time, no corn fields around so I resorted to another favorite. Pokeberry bushes have great leaves. Big and tough and they smell pretty good. Of course, the fragrance is really important. The rough side of the leaf should be used for best results. Soon I was back on the road again, and even faster yet. It will probably be a very long time before I have such an unusual run as this.
Bottom line, eat earlier the night before and make sure that you take care of these needs as much as possible before leaving the house. Prepare by carrying toilet paper or knowing your plant choices. I will admit to once getting some poison ivy mixed in by mistake. Not fun! But also, if you see a runner coming back to the paved road from somewhere toward the woods or a corn field, there is a good chance that he didnít just choose to do a little trail running.

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