Of all the blogs and books that I’ve read about running – and I read an unhealthy amount – no one ever talks about this one thing – shitting on a run.
If we were to go by books, blogs and public discussions, it’d seem this just doesn’t happen. Ever.
Yet, I’ve heard people softly admitting about having to do it. I know people who’ve done it, and lived to tell about it. And, for the first time, on a 20K off-road run last Saturday, I had to do it. Since, no one else publicly writes about it, I am.
I usually run my long runs in the morning. That means that post the toilet visit, tummy is mostly clean, except for the small breakfast – usually a butter toast, a coffee, and maybe a banana. So, little risk of emergency stops there.
Last weekend circumstances conspired against me, so I had to run my long run in the evening. Add to it, a big lunch at Nando’s and an evening coffee + ice cream. Despite a successful pre-run visit to the toilet, within couple of miles of starting the run, I knew that something wasn’t right. After another few miles of dilly dallying, trying different running styles – low cadence long step, high cadence tiny step, minimal middle body motion, walking – it was clear that I needed to take a break. A nature break.
Found a secluded spot shortly after the 4 mile mark, located a space behind the bushes with no nettles or pokey plants, lowered the shorts and quickly did my business.
I was lucky that it was more gas than mud, and that I was doing an off-road run so there was plenty of hiding space. I was also supremely lucky that this didn’t happen on last weekend’s run when most of the first 6-7 miles were through thick nettles and bushes with barely space to run, no space to hide and s(h)it.
Having gone through the experience once, and been lucky with it, I’m not taking any chances for a next time. Here’s a few things I (we) should do to manage the business of shit on the run:
- Carry a few folds of toilet paper, preferably someplace where they won’t get soaked in sweat.
I run with a water belt that has a small pouch where I keep the TP, gels, and sometimes my phone.
- Know the escape options on the route – service stations, cafes, pubs, off-road hidden bushes – where an emergency stop can be made.
They won’t always work out, though. My escape options were near the halfway point in Godalming. No way could have I carried on another 2+ miles, so behind the bushes it was.
- Do the sensible thing – wake up and run in the morning, before the stomach has been filled with all that junk grub that’ll want to exit in a hurry.
- If everything goes wrong – no TP, no WCs nearby – there’s a final, last-ditch solution – the _sock option_. Take off a sock, and use it to clean up your posterior. It will mean sacrificing a sock, specially if it’s a treasured pair, but will help keep you clean and tidy. It’s still the last option, though. We love our socks too much.
Have you had to shit & run ever? How did you manage it? Share some experiences, and/or tips on managing it here in the comments or on your blog.