I’ve recently been asked the question every new runner asks themselves but does not necessary ask others, and that’s,
“Why do I have to Poop during my run?!”
It’s a question I’ve asked myself as well but never really researched. I just adapted to my bodie’s pattern. All I know if those things in my body generally work better when I’m in a active running cycle. So I told my friend I would do the research and here is what I’ve found.
It’s a pretty personal question to ask someone, and if you’re not too comfortable asking it, use google. She does well in answering all kinds of embarrassing question for people. I Googled – as was pleasantly surprised to see that there are lots, and lots and even more articles on the subject. It turns out your not too special to have your bowls react to your newly changed lifestyle.
When you go for a run, everything in your body is moving, bouncing side to side and up and down, this is a bit disturbing to your body. In the article Avoiding Gastric Distress During Runs and Races, Jackie Dikos explains it in a very simple manner – and it’s the best way to pun in words:
“Imagine trying to run on a sidewalk with a buddy nudging you along the way. It might get frustrating after a while because the nudging would make it a lot harder to stay on the sidewalk. Your gut feels the same when you’re running. When your body has food to digest, the running motion nudges your digestive tract, making it harder to control the course your food wants to take.” – Jackie Dikos
So having to go to the bathroom mid-run is a very common thing for athletes, have you ever wondered why the porter-potties at the beginning of a race always has a queue? It’s because your body goes into a stress mode pre- race – so it enters a form of flight or fight mode. Forcing the body to get rid of anything that it doesn’t need at that moment.
In 2005 whilst competing in the London Marathon, Paula Radcliffe had experienced those annoying cramps and could no longer avoid them. She had to stop, and do her thing next to the road, in front of all the spectators. She said she simply couldn’t wait any longer, it was unavoidable. She went on the win the race. So I guess all’s well that ends well.
You can read more about her experience here.
I read another article on Running competitor that stated that a review in The International SportMed Journal about gastrointestinal (GI) problems in runners reported that studies have found between 30-83 percent of runners are affected by GI disturbances. One separate study of long-distance triathletes competing in extreme conditions even found that 93 percent of them had at least one symptom of GI distress.
“GI issues are certainly a race day and long run day problem,” said Darrin Bright, the medical director for the Columbus Marathon, who also runs and coaches. The most debilitating and annoying of these GI issues? The sudden and overwhelming need to evacuate your bowels. In cases of extreme frequency or discomfort, this is known as runner’s diarrhea.
The one thing I know is that is actually good to go to the bathroom – and that colon cancer in much less common on Runners than non runners. So don’t be too worried about it, just plan ahead and work with your body.
When this started to happen to me I just planned ahead. I prefer running in the morning first thing. No breakfast or anything, just get up and go. So I made a point to just get up 20 min earlier, have a luke warm glass of water to wake up my metabolism. (its not very appetising, but it helps.)
Another interesting article by Adam Kelly also painted a good picture as to how clever our bodies are .“Naturally or primitively, we are designed to eat and drink while at rest, then take a snooze, before setting off to go hunting or gathering food again. So if there is food in there, the body wants to get rid of it, as quickly as possible. Here in lies the poop problem,”
So I gathered some tips from different places – Here is what I have found:
- Get to know your body. Develop a healthy toilet routine. And plan your runs around that.
- Usually when you start any form of excessive movement or exercise your bowls will most likely want to join in the movement.So make sure that your running route has a public bathroom, or just plan to run past your house again before continuing onto the rest of your route.
- Choose to eat foods that are good for your digestive system. Healthy fibres will help keep you regular.
- If you notice that it becomes a big issue, rather go see your doctor, just to check up on a few things.
- Drink Medication to help – this is a bit of a last resort I’ll say.
- Take toilet Paper with you – Just in case…
- Snack on foods that will leave your body fast before a run – For example a banana and a teaspoon of peanut butter. But not too much Peanut butter as foods with fatty compounds tend to stay in your digestive system longer.
- Eat some Yogurt – Yogurt has very good proteins and enzymes present that can help your tummy speed up the process.
- Stay Hydrated – when your body is dehydrated it cannot absorb the nutrients and foods that are present in your tummy. This in turn causes constipation as the body is unable to empty your digestive tract.
- Have a cup of coffee. Warm coffee with caffeine present has the ability to get your bowls moving, have a quick warm coffee before heading out the door, this can help speed the process along.
Here are some good food options for your Digestive system:
- Don’t eat foods that are known to upset your tummy.
- Try not to drink excessive Alcohol. This can upset your tummy, especially if you haven’t eaten yet.
- Refrain from eating 2 hours before your run
- Don’t eat High Fibre foods on the day you plan to have your run.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. There is no need to run to the doctor about this unnecessarily. Learn how your body works, and work with it, plan ahead.
So I have a lot more ‘Do’s’ than don’ts .
That’s because it good to go the bathroom, it makes for a healthy colon and also keeps you lighter – that way you don’t have to feel uncomfortable and full of shit the whole day –
Have a lovely day!