Creatures of Habit

Ask any runner about their pre-run routine, and chances are you will find that we generally all follow the same sequence of events.

  1. Wake up and put on running clothes
  2. Drink something (for some it’s water and/or coffee, me it’s 20oz of warm lemon water)
  3. Eat something (usually toast with some sort of nut butter and banana, others will make a small bowl of oatmeal)
  4. Evacuate the digestive system
  5. Put on running shoes and set your watch
  6. Run

Over the last few months I’ve changed up my step #3. I’m not really eating anything in the morning, but I am drinking a Green Smoothie (with protein powder added in) and it has become a game of “how quickly will this digest” once I’m out on my run.

A welcome sight to any runner "in distress"

A welcome sight to any runner “in distress”

Yes, I’m talking about if, or when, I might have to go to the bathroom (you know which kind) again on my run. Recently I found out it was about 5 miles until I was making that mad dash for the bathroom door. And so I’ve adopted a new routine of only drinking half of my smoothie before leaving the house, or having nothing at all but making sure dinner the night before was nutritious and filling, which so far has been successful.

This also gets into the realm of being prepared on race day and why you shouldn’t be trying anything new with your nutrition for one thing (equipment is another) so as to avoid any surprises. Surprises are the worst on race day.

The reason why runners become such creatures of habit is likely because we’ve all been there and seen what happens when something different is thrown into the mix. We know how ugly it can get if one strays from their tried and true path, and trust me, it can get pretty ugly. It’s also just frustrating to have things go wrong when you’ve trained for so long. Some obstacles are out of our control, so it’s best to make sure that you aren’t putting any additional obstacles up as well.

My habit is to make sure that bodily functions aren’t going to be a problem. I don’t consume dairy, I hydrate well, and I make sure that I’m familiar with everything that is going into my body and the reactions that will result. Even in the days (not just night) before a race I stick to things I know sit well in my system, or move through without issue (constipation is also nobody’s friend on race day).

All of that said, I also make sure that I know of at least one or two bathrooms along my route – or carry toilet paper!

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