The 365 Commitment


So this is not a sexy topic. You know you have become a runner when you have had a “side of the road” event that involved GI (gastrointestinal) distress. That is a nice way to say emptying your bowels of all their contents rather rapidly after a fit of nausea. When you are running long distances and your body wants to remove the contents of your digestive tract, it will do so anyway it can and come out any direction it can. Every person who has learned to run long distances, that runs everyday and long runs on the weekends has more than one tale regarding these experiences. Yeah they are horrible. Yeah it is disgusting. Yeah, I should not have eaten that hamburger last night.

Or the pizza, or drank the beer, or the spaghetti, or the fill in the blank. When you are on the side of the road, crouched behind a side brush violently expunging the contents of your body and feel like you are near death you contemplate this thought. You know exactly what it is that you should not have eaten. It is now on the side of the road looking like a scene from a crime investigation series. You sheepishly hobble away from the location, awkwardly, wishing you had a few wet wipes with you. However, you do not. You just have 15 more miles to go. Embrace the Suck.

Runners do not talk about these events, but get them around a camp fire by themselves and they will trade stories of these events like a tour in the military. They are badges of honor, but more importantly lessons learned the hard way. Runners tend to adopt a diet routine not out of any health requirement, but rather out of pure necessity and risk avoidance. You only need to spend a few times vomiting over the side of a free way overpass, or down some poor gopher’s hole before you correct your bad eating behavior. I have been running for some 5,000 miles and believe me, I know what that chocolate fudge sundae looks like mixed with pizza and sheet cake after it has been digesting for a few hours.

Long ugly description to come to a conclusion that I have reached after my painful, embarrassing qualitative research. I need a diet that completely avoids FODMAPs. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. Basically anything that does not digest quickly and accumulates in the stomach and gut. This would be fermentable fruits, wheat, rye, milk, soft cheeses, artificial sweeteners and other similar food sources.  Anything that does not digest cleanly, ends up staying dormant in you GI tract and will and can cause GI distress while running. Many people walk around bloated all the time from eating too many FODMAPs and find themselves in various stages of poor gut health. They do not process nutrients well, and they are feeling sick, tired, and just down right out of sorts. Running 40 miles on a Saturday morning is a sure fire way of curing your mental state AND clearing out any toxins resident in your GI tract. When you put the body under physical stress to the point where it needs to seriously get access to water, to electrolytes, and nutrients it will REMOVE anything that is in the way. The bad thing about sitting around all day, at a desk or elsewhere is that your body is NOT under that much stress. It will just deal with the toxins, by effectively shutting down. So the reason you feel tired is because the body is focused on fixing all that crap in your GI tract.

Runners learn this the hard way. However, I think we could all benefit from taking serious consideration that what we eat does not process immediately. Many things we ingest sit there for a long time and in some cases could be spoiling and downright poisoning you. Take a look at some of the FODMAP research and see what you come back with. Interesting, I can almost track back my mood swings to the food that I ingested the day or two before.


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