Friday, February 22, 2013

"You don't need a $400 GPS-enabled, heart-rate tracking, cadence recording, calorie counting ceramic toilet seat."

I uploaded a picture on Instagram titled, "Pre-run Traditions. We've all got 'em." The picture shows my legs, from knees-to-feet, with running shorts wrapped around my ankles and a full cup of coffee sitting in front of my exposed toes. The viewpoint: looking down from a comfortable perch on a porcelain toilet seat. I was taking care of business. We all do it. Don't believe me? There's a great children's book about it: "Everyone Poops" by Taro Gomi.

There was something unique about this digestive cycle, though. -Don't worry it's not going to get crude.- Biologically, this digestion is exactly the same as every other bowel movement. Ingest food, breakdown food, digest the leftovers. The difference with this movement is that it's a part of my pre-run routine. I refuse to run, if it doesn't happen. It's akin to a morning cup of coffee, or brushing your teeth before you go to sleep, or even turning off the lights in a specific order. But there is more to be learned from digestive routines for runners.

Your body isn't exactly fond of running. Your mind, yes. Your internal temperature rises, your veins are forced to dilate the accompanying rise in hear-rate, and your brain releases an endorphin to numb the pain of each stride as your foot slams into the ground. These changes, and more, are all a part of homeostatic regulation. It's a good thing, too. It means your body is functioning properly. Another tell-tale sign that your body is ready to run: bowel movements.

Timing is almost everything. As B.Nelson commented on the picture, "Better than DURING run traditions." Truth. But the crucial piece of evidence you can derive from your bowel movements: If it happens on a regular basis, you're body is functioning properly. I notice major changes in my morning tradition, if I'm sick. If I'm tired. If I'm stressed. Sometimes it doesn't happen first thing, which I associate with fatigue, or I didn't eat enough -or healthily- the night before. Sometimes it happens too frequently. I correct my training: A long run may need to wait until the evening when my body can correct itself. Speed work might need to be put off for another day.

Conveniently, you don't need a $400 GPS-enabled, heart-rate tracking, cadence recording, calorie counting ceramic toilet seat. Just taking a mental note of bowel patterns is really all you need. You could write it down, and to be honest, keeping track of consistency, color, and time from when you last ingested food may produce a more profound analysis. It's up to you how detailed you want to be in your bowel pattern tracking. Bottom-line, don't flush down an easy tell-tale sign of how ready your body is to run.