Charlie's Blog: Walking and Eating


Walking and Eating

No, I'd lose time. If you quit once, it's easy to do it again and again and again. It becomes a habit.

The Walking is Fitness podcast had an episode entitled Should You Walk or Eat First?. I recommend listening to it. It inspired me to write this blog post on the topic.

The Gentle Reader who is a faithful C-Blog devotee knows by now of my antipathy for running for fitness and my love of walking for fitness. One of the things I neglected to cover in my walking vs. running posts was the issue of eating. Walking and eating is way easier than running and eating. I must warn you that I am going into a zone that is graphic and TMI. You've been warned.

Running is a stupid activity that burns a lot of calories. This is mostly glycogen from your bloodstream and muscles instead of fat from your gut and butt. The body needs that quick energy to maintain the speed needed for running. When you run out of this glycogen, you hit the wall or bonk. To counteract this, runners drink sports drinks, slurp gels, and eat energy bars. They can't eat real food because the combination of real food in the gut with the up-and-down pounding produces a condition known as "runner's trots." Everyone else knows this as diarrhea.

Diarrhea is a constant at road races. There are even infamous tales of runners who have soiled themselves completely in a race. I'm not going to share the pictures, but you can Google them up if you don't believe me. There is also a Wikipedia article on the subject where you will find the context of the opening quotation of this blog post.

Runners will blame the trots on "trigger foods" before a run or race. Everyone thinks immediately of Taco Bell which is a trigger food for every member of the human race except me. That is one of the upsides of a plant based diet, but that is a topic for another post. With runners, all solid food is a trigger food for them. This is because the trigger is the running and not so much what they ate.

If you are a runner, the choice is stark. You can risk bonking, or you can risk explosive diarrhea. Sometimes, you get both. The undeniable fact is that the human digestive tract hates running. This is a big reason to give up running and become a fitness walker.

Walkers don't have these issues. Walkers can eat a Thanksgiving level dinner and go walking immediately after. The walking actually aids in digestion. Many people go for a short walk after meals for this reason. Food is never an issue for a walker unless it is Taco Bell. Walkers also don't waste money on expensive sports drinks and energy gels. I like a granola bar or a sandwich before my walks when I think I need some food.

I couldn't do this sort of thing when I would run for fitness in my younger days. I have had some close calls with runner's trots. I will spare the Gentle Reader the worst details but trying to manage running and nutrition with other aspects of a busy schedule was a nightmare. Why did I ever waste time with running? That was really dumb.

I have had to go to the loo in the middle of a walk, but it was never catastrophic. I have never soiled myself on a walk. I can't imagine how a runner wants a medal so bad that they would expose themselves to the public spectacle of having liquid feces running down both legs.

The cure for runner's trots is to become a fitness walker. That switch will cause you less distress and embarrassment. And you don't have to time those meals around your training anymore.