There is so much more to running as a sport than putting on a pair of sneakers and hitting the road. There are strategies, training programs, publications dedicated to running, and a unique lingo.
We heard some interesting warnings and advice when we trained to run a marathon back in 2009. I decided this week I’ll debunk three myths about running a marathon.
Myth #1: You Have To Eat A Huge Pasta Dinner The Night Before
One of the most iconic episodes of The Office is a two-part story called Fun Run. Manager Michael Scott organizes a 5K for everyone in the office to raise money to help people affected by Rabies. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.
Michael eats a huge helping of fettucini Alfredo to carbo-load before the race. He hasn’t actually trained at all but thinks this pasta consumption will give him the energy to win the race. He hobbles across the finish line and pukes behind a tree.
Carbo-loading, when done correctly, is an appropriate practice leading up to a race. According to an article on MarathonHandbook.com, carbohydrate loading is gradually increasing your total intake of carbs to have excess glycogen stored in your liver. Your muscles tap into these stores in long-distance events.
Myth #2: You Will Poop Your Pants
No pun intended.
It’s been known to happen. So, maybe. Probably not, though. This condition, known as the trots, has a few causes according to Insider.com.
First, long-distance running jostles your organs around for an extended time. That alone could trigger your bowels. Second, your body concentrates blood flow to your legs and away from your digestive system. Temporary incontinence could be the result. Third, a high-fat meal the night before. And lastly, energy gels are made mainly of lactose and fructose. I had a feeling those energy gel packs were gross and wrong, now I know why.
Famous (or infamous) runner, Tamara Torlakson, was making excellent time on her Mountains 2 Beach Marathon in 2018. She decided not to visit the porta-potty around mile 13 when nature called. She accomplished her best time at 3:07 and said it was worth it!
I love all you dedicated runners. I’m regularly in awe of your physical prowess. But sometimes, y’all are gross. When Tim and I ran the Steamtown Marathon years ago, an email reminded all participants to please not urinate on the school building while waiting for the start of the race. There were porta-potties provided. We shook our heads and chuckled at that. Oh, runners.
Myth #3: Your Toenails Will Fall Off
Your toenails might fall off, but it’s not a guarantee by any means. Losing toenails is a common plight among runners, though. Why? Runners World tells us that your gait causes micro-trauma to your nail beds. When your weight is on your front foot, the foot extended behind you hyper-extends the toes. They can rub against your shoe inside the toe box. Repeat that motion several thousand times during an endurance run, and you could suffer some damage.
As the toenails rub inside your shoe, the nail separates a little from the nailbed. Blood collects beneath it in a subungual hematoma. The nail may or may not fall off. If it does, another will grow back over a few months.
I hope I’ve cleared up some of the mystery surrounding these myths about running a marathon. For the record, I did not scarf fettuccini Alfredo before our marathon. I probably visited every porta-potty along the route (I wasn’t running for a record). And all my tootsies stayed neatly intact.