Sunday, February 24, 2013


I somehow suspect this one is going to go over well with the SUAR crowd. (Hi guys, don't be afraid to leave a comment!)

Do you remember that Mythbusters episode, Do pretty girls fart? They made Kari these huge boxer briefs with some sort of detector in them. It took forever with her hanging around the shop. Silly Mythbusters, all they needed to do was have her run. 10 K would probably do it.

Along with laundry, this was something I didn't think about when I started getting more active. Nobody told me, but then, neither did I ask. I'm fortunate that my systems work pretty well, and I didn't anticipate any problems. As to that, given the wide variety of possible outcomes, I've come out of it pretty well, so far.

Triathletes and runners are pretty open about bodily functions. For all but the very shortest of races they have to be taken into account. It is remarkably easy to have a gut issue take over your race and destroy your hopes for finish results. Sometimes it can prevent finishing at all. Sometimes flatulence is greatly to be desired as a way of helping you feel better. The problem is obvious. There you are on your bike, or somewhere on the run, out in public. Even if one is confident that gas will be the only result, it's nearly impossible to relax to the extent needed, and no more, while continuing to move forward. Unless you're lucky enough to be on a bike downhill.

The only people that confident are newbies. Experienced runners have a saying, never trust a fart. Or if you're a political runner junkie, it's trust, but verify. That means a toilet of some description. Which are sometimes in short supply when needed.

If you were designing activities to give people gas, you couldn't do much better than triathlon. You have to get nutrition and hydration into you regularly. You are trying to put out maximal aerobic effort, so it's very easy to get air in with the water. On the bike you are hunched over, working your core, churning whatever you had for breakfast.  Running has an inescapable up and down motion unless you are really really good. Your gut is not working normally, what with all the blood going to the muscles. Even so, the activities often go on long enough for nature to work her course, with all that implies.

And there you are, looking at your watch, doing pace calculations in your head and comparing that to the feelings in your gut, wondering if you'll make it to the finish line. Or to the next porta-potty. Or the next set of bushes. It isn't a fun experience, and I'm so glad that particular day I ran down in Fish Creek (where there are flush toilets) rather than up towards the reservoir (where there is nothing). Three visits in a medium long run is a record for me, one I hope is never broken, or even challenged. There's a reason many runners and triathletes carry a little wet one package tucked into their shoe or a pocket.

There's no polite way to say this, so I'm just going to say it, and let the gas disperse as it will, so to speak. Fart jokes in movies are a cheap sophomoric attempt at humour, and it's only the overall immaturity of the audience that has them continue to appear. To me it's a sure sign the writer doesn't have anything to say, and that a movie isn't really worth seeing. I admit the possibility that a fart joke sight gag could be witty and funny in a movie, and conceivably could be important to the story or character development. ONCE! I'm reasonably sure there isn't a writer that skilled working in Hollywood. Maybe for the BBC.

But just like gratuitous violence or nudity, gratuitous flatulence diminishes a movie. Treating it as a joke makes it more difficult to discuss openly when necessary. There are many people who have medical conditions relating to the bowels, and flatulence is the least of their problems. Triathletes, marathoners, and other endurance events need to discuss such issues, and have provisions for them during races. Some people have been brought up to be ashamed of how their elimination systems work, and are mortified to have to discuss it even with their doctors. Having society treating it as a joke just makes it worse.

It's just another example of where our society has to grow up. Things hidden out of sight will fester and not be treated seriously. Drugs, prostitution, abortions, breast feeding have all been stigmatized at least, and criminalized at worst, and it hasn't made any of the problems any better. It's just made criminals richer. Various societies have ritual drug use, often tied to religious, or other spiritual ceremonies. No society in human history has succeeded in stamping out prostitution, so we might as well talk about it and figure out the best way to deal with it. If we don't treat abortion as a medical procedure, it will be treated as a back alley crime that leads to more expensive medical issues. Just as adults eat with each other in public through the use of polite conventions that most of us learned as children, there is no reason a baby cannot be fed in public with some polite conventions.
No workouts to speak of today. Just lots of sitting.


  1. This is enough to scare me into never trying to run (you know, once I am human again and can be active).

    I've had a fear of no available toilets for a long, loooong time.


  2. This is enough to scare me into never trying to run (you know, once I am human again and can be active).

    I've had a fear of no available toilets for a long, loooong time.



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