With Valentine's day upon us, it is apropos that our good friend Kristen Seymour (who also happens to be an amazing writer and a great coach) was kind enough to share details on a relationship with which we can all relate. Namely, the one with our digestive track!
A curious relationship
Triathletes develop all kinds of relationships. You might befriend the owner of your favorite bike shop. You choose your training partners with great care. You have feelings for your favorite shoes and sunglasses and kits – feelings that people who don’t embrace the idea of suffering for fun probably reserve for things like children and puppies.
Did someone say puppy??
These are steady relationships. Good relationships. Relationships you can definitely take home to your mother.
Not like the one you probably have with your digestive system. No, that one can be best summed up as being...complicated.
Can we talk?
I mean, sure, your digestive tract does a lot for you. That whole absorption of nutrients thing? Totally important. And you probably ask a lot of it, what with all the different foods you like to eat and the various gels and snacks you shovel in on long bike rides. Come to think of it, that digestive system of yours is kind of a catch.
Now, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones with an iron stomach and a bathroom schedule you could set a clock by. You might feel like you and your digestive system have an understanding – similar to what you’d have with a roommate, where you establish certain rules to ensure you keep the peace.
With a roommate, those rules might be that you have set days for cleaning the toilet, or agree not to microwave fish without cracking a window. With your digestive system, it’s probably more along the lines of promising to provide it with sustenance on a regular basis – something I believe the professionals call “meals” -- and maybe you even go so far as to avoid spicy foods or Jagermeister the night before a big workout. Oh, yes, you’re holding down your end of the deal, alright.
But, let’s be real here. Most of our digestive tracts aren’t exactly Old Reliable. The oatmeal and coffee that it accepted with nary a grumble last week mightyield far more, shall we say exciting results the morning of your race.
Hello Friend. See you on race day!
Almost as if you and your digestive system are cool cool cool with each other, but when other parties enter the mix – you know, like race day nerves or a change of schedule – suddenly the relationship turns wonky. Face it: Your gut is probably not the most predictable pal.
So what’s a devoted athlete to do? Well, let’s think about what you could do in the case of an undependable roommate. You could kick her out in favor of a new roomie, but that doesn’t quite work with the digestive tract analogy. After all, the idea of swapping out a stomach is hardly appetizing.
You could change nothing, of course, and eventually that relationship will likely culminate in an, uhh, explosive end. Hmm. Hard pass on that.
And so, there’s really just one thing to do – try to get along better. You might try to win the problematic roommate over by bribing her with her favorite treats or switching taco night to Wednesday so she’s able to join with her work schedule. Now, I might not recommend anything taco-related when it comes to gratifying your gut pre-workout, but if you can figure out what it likes (and, more importantly, what it doesn’t), you’ve got a better than average chance at achieving gastronomic success.
Remember, just because someone else’s roommate (or, in this case stomach) is all about Indian food or peanut butter and jelly or kale smoothies, that doesn’t mean yours is gonna be on board with the same things. It can take a little trial and error – and maybe even a little surreptitious training, where you schedule your workouts and meals to more closely mimic a big race – but you’re definitely the leaseholder here, and you know it’ll be well worth the effort if you can establish a solid, predictable friendship.
Bottom line is, this is one relationship you’re stuck with, so it’s in everyone’s interest if you make the best of it. Show that stomach of yours a little gratitude and really listen to your gut – and yes, I mean about food, not just whether or not you should bet on red or black next time you’re in Vegas.
Happy Training and Racing!
To learn more about Kristen and to pick up some great information, check out her site Fit Bottomed Girls.