This week I've been thinking a lot about taboos. I had to get a couple of hours off to go to an appointment and when I explained to colleagues where I'd be, I was characteristically honest.
"I'll be away for a couple of hours, I've got to drive home for my smear test"
Yep. SMEAR TEST.
I thought this was the kind of thing you could say aloud in 2016.....but.....nope.
I was met with flinches, shudders and one "I DON'T WANT TO KNOW THAT!"
I am aware that this involves the unspoken area of.....my vagina........but seeing as I often hear "I'm just popping for a wee" then I thought we could probably deal with chat inferring genital involvement. I wasn't planning on doing selfies of me and the nurse or tweeting a swab by swab account or anything!
I feel really strongly that if we hide these things away under a blanket of secrecy and shame they will only grow in fear and power. Lots of women won't get tested because of tales of how embarrassing, invasive and painful the procedure is. And some of these women will get very sick or die from undiagnosed cancers.
It seems the word SMEAR TEST is the VOLDERMORT of our polite society.
So I thought I'd bust a few myths, then get back on track and talk about some running taboos (I apologise if I've veered to far from trainer talk for my dear run fans)
1. Nope, it isn't agony. Far from it. Personal experience it was a wee bit sore this time, never even been painful before. It always feels weird, like pins and needles feel weird. You wouldn't choose to get pins and needles but they aren't painful. Also it passes in a couple of seconds.
2. Feeling a bit tense when it's under way is normal. Bleeding afterwards sometimes happens and is normal. If you have any questions on what is or isn't normal, just ask. They are happy to help.
3. There's no need to be embarrassed. The nurses are professionally interested in your lady bits. You won't have anything they haven't seen before. And if you have they'll probably think it's really cool.
4. Cervical cancer is rare-ish but who wants to take a chance on something when there's a totally free and simple way to catch it early?
Okay. All good? Here's the NHS website explaining it all properly.
If you're going to run regularly and for any significant distance, at some point you will have to pee outdoors.
Not in a designated toilet facility.
If you're male this is such a non problem. With a few steps away from the trail and a carefully turned back, you are shielded from public view. You lucky sods.
As a lady this is far trickier. I mean who wants to be naked from the waist down in public? Well ladies. Cast your embarrassment aside when needs must and use my top tips:
1. A relatively low wall or sparse woodland will provide enough cover from passing cars. they don't see much at 30mph+
2. Although you can whip your trousers and pants down in a swift oner, do not attempt to pull up all in one go. You will either a) Knock yourself off balance and fall over or b) Be adjusting your knickers for the next mile as you run.
3. Crouch low and don't pee on your shoes.
4. Be aware that sometimes herons sit in dark fields at night......they will be startled by your presence and fly away suddenly.....don't mistake them for monsters and try to run away with your trousers around your ankles, screaming.......(If there's footage of that someone could turn me into a gif sensation)
Yes. It does. It speeds up your heart rates and breathing and well.....can tend to make everything move faster in your digestive system.
The funniest running stories always involve having to poop in weird and wonderful places. So I think we should just embrace it. I would really like to hear (anonymously is fine) any comedic incidents that have happened to you guys.
In terms of avoiding it standard advice is to try to go pre run, avoid new or spicy foods the day before and try gels, isotonic drinks and other fuels in training so they don't catch you out on race day. If you want to discuss in posher language, I like the term "GI distress"
Carry toilet paper on long runs and, as my trail running friends say is standard polite code: "Always shit away from the trail"
Plus, when it happens to you (yep, it's happened to me), just remember you are working as hard as Paula Radcliffe!.
When you run any long distance, bits will rub. Basically anything that is squishy or sticks out. In my case a wee muffin top had a BIG argument with my running tights and my back with my backpack on my first ultra marathon. Other folk find nipples, inner thighs and the notorious "under boob" a problem.
This does not mean you are a vile sweaty monster.
This does not mean that you are fat (nowt wrong with that anyway).
This does not mean that you should give up and lie on the sofa, being fanned and eating grapes.
All this means is you need to apply (or remember to apply in my case) a lubricant (hee hee. Insert your own innuendo). Go basic and use vaseline or get snazzy and try a special running one like Bodyglide. It works. It doesn't ruin your clothes and it saves a whole heap of pain!
Smear tests are not embarrassing, it's okay to pee outdoors, running makes you poop and I have flabby bits that rub against my clothes.
Keeping it real as usual.
Anything I've missed? I'd love to hear from you.
Run Cat Girl Run x x x