The Runner’s Complaint


Sure the 4th of July is supposed to have fireworks, but this is not what I had in mind...

But the 4th of July is SUPPOSED to have fireworks…

Yesterday I decided that my legs had been given enough time to rest from their fourteen mile long-run last weekend and that it was time to get back up to speed. Sometimes resting is more difficult that the actual running: I find that if I go more than three days without running I begin to become distracted and moody.

So even though it was getting towards evening on the Fourth of July and even though the town where I live happens to be extremely permissive about allowing anyone and everyone to buy and set off as many fireworks as their little pyromaniac hearts desire I decided to go for my run.

The run started off well: the sun was low and it was beginning to get cool. I was a little bit slow to get up to speed, but I wasn’t worried: better to get back into the habit than to overdo it. The first mile and a half was very satisfactory and I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I turned the corner to begin heading home and it struck: The Runner’s Complaint.

If you’re a distance runner then you know what I’m talking about. The runner’s runs. The trots. The gurgles. That sudden need to urgently find a bathroom in the middle of a run. No one had warned me of this phenomenon when I first began running. No one had told me that once I started putting in longer distances I would be staking my intestinal fortitude on a single number on the roulette wheel of indignity and that the farther I ran the more times the wheel got to spin. What would my number be this time? Six miles? Ten miles?

On this occasion that number turned out to be two. Two miles and suddenly my guts began grumbling with discontent.

The dilemma with the Runner’s Complaint is that running makes it worse. So at the exact moment when you want to be putting on a burst of speed in order to get to the nearest facilities is the exact moment that your intestines mutiny and take control of the ship. There’s no running through the pain on this one. Walking allows the urgency to subside a little bit so I spent the final mile doing an awkward walk/jog through clenched glutes.

About halfway home I passed a Fireworks stand (one on every corner!) and it turns out that the smell of sulphur aggravates this kind of thing and the race against the inevitable suddenly Got Real.

I made it home and walk/jogged past my husband in the kitchen with a “Cantalknowgottagobathroom!” and crossed the bathroom threshold counting myself victorious.

So it was my first run-in with the Runner’s Complaint so far this year. There was no real reason why it should have happened, but then again there never is. Perhaps it was just because I was running again after a four day resting period. Who knows.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 5, 2013.

3 Responses to “The Runner’s Complaint”

  1. One of my ‘Runner’s Complaints’ happened in the first two miles of a 16 mile training run. Man, was I pissed. And after the deed was done, I felt so terrible that anything further just wasn’t happening.

    Another Runner’s Complaint I’ve had recently is the heat, but that’s a totally different issue. 😉

    • The first time it happened to me I was deep in the forest preserve and miles from a bathroom. Luckily for me there was still plenty of buckthorn (an invasive species in that area) around for cover- nowadays all the buckthorn has been cleared and I would be shit out of luck… no pun intended.

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