OMG, where is the nearest bathroom? I need it now!
Do you think that bush/tree/garbage can is big enough to hide me?
What makes better toilet paper- a sock or a leaf?
If you have ever had to ask yourself these questions…rest assured, you are not alone. In fact, maybe this is a sign that you are a TRUE runner.
Nearly pooped your pants on a run? Badge of honor.
Have you ever made an emergency stop at a steamy hot porta-potty on a 95 degree day?
Have you zipped into the nearest coffee shop and bought a bottle of water just so you could use the bathroom?
Or maybe you know exactly which coffee shops/community centers/churches are runner friendly?
You, my friend, are a runner.
Of course, I am not speaking from personal experience. I am a classy lady, who would never discuss POOP (ew, ew, ew!) on their Fashion, Fitness, and Fitness Fashion blog!
But I have heard some stories from ‘friends’. As expected, these friends would prefer to remain anonymous, but here are some of those stories:
• There was a friend who was running with her dog, and had to use two plastic poop bags…and neither one was for the dog!
• Then there was the friend who was on the home stretch during a local marathon, and she ended up behind a somewhat famous church near the finish, popping a squat and praying for forgiveness!
• How can forget about my friend who ran the Lake Minnetonka half marathon several years ago with her husband? At one point, the husband sprinted off into the woods and came back without a shirt on…. Apparently, that shirt also worked as toilet paper in an emergency!
Why does this happen?
Running jostles your stomach and all that jostling around is tough on the intestines. Every one’s digestive system is different, and everyone’s tolerance for certain foods is different. Running creates physical stress on the body’s systems, and the stress increases with mileage and intensity. And when blood flow that’s needed for digestion is diverted to the legs, an “emergency situation” might ensue.
Most of the time the stress from training is a good thing; hopefully the body adapts, then you become stronger and fitter. Hopefully as it adapts, you may find that these “situations” will decrease or even stop.
What should runners do?
- Keep track of what you eat: Try keeping a food diary with your running journal. Look for patterns as to when you have had these issues. Is it timing? Lactose? Or maybe it’s more obvious, and it’s that greasy pizza you had for lunch or that Indian food you had last night (never a good idea!) Caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, dairy, gluten, and fiber are possible suspects. Try to figure out patterns, and then eliminate those items before a run.
- Plan Ahead: You might try using the treadmill or run near your house as a warm-up until you use the bathroom; then, hit the road to complete the rest of your run.
- Hydrate: A lot of runners say that they experience these ugly situations when they are not hydrated. It is always important to be well hydrated, but it might also help to avoid the runner’s trots.
- Limit Fiber Intake: Fiber is good for you, but you may want to choose when you eat your high fiber meals versus when you decide to go for a hard run
- Run Near Bathrooms: Hello! There are usually a lot of bathrooms around the lakes on my running routes, but even so, they are not always there when you need them. Try your best to plan on running along a route that includes bathrooms at various points.
- Gradually increase your workout intensity: A lot of the time, runners experience GI problems simply due to the fact that they are training too hard too fast. Instead, try to gradually increase your workout intensity.
What about race day? I can’t spare the 3-5 minutes at the bathroom if I want to obtain my marathon goal!
Ask your doctor about taking anti-diarrhea medications (Imodium/Pepto Bismol). This may help you get through race day without worrying. I’m sure that your race will have port-o-potties at the start, the finish, and along the course, too. But, you can be prepared just in case by carrying a small amount of toilet paper with you in a zip lock bag.
I’m guessing not a lot of readers will comment on this topic- it IS a little embarrassing, I know. Even if you follow these tips, you might still have a bad experience. But don’t fret! Lots of runners experience this issue, and most of us have that one horribly funny story to share. Ask around- I bet your running friends have a story or two!
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