I want to talk about something kind of crappy… it’s pretty annoying to be out for a run and have nature call… and not just like pop a squat quick nature call… no like a panic alarm, emergency call to deal with number 2. It makes running kind of shitty sometimes… Okay enough of the crappy puns… let’s talk about this issue seriously… because I doubt I’m alone in my constant need to fertilize the forest mid run! I have honestly tried everything and anything to see if I can minimize my outdoor bowel pattern but it just seems to be what my body wants. I lightly joke that I am being environmentally friendly and saving water, but with all joking aside, it is rather annoying to have to use the facili-trees nearly every run. Not to mention having to explain why I am trampling off into the bushes, especially when running with new people!
So naturally, I wanted to find out what was causing all this… So I talked to my running coach to see if it was perfectly normal… and even it is normal… what can I do to decrease my forest squats. Here are some reasons for why you poop during a run and what you can do to try and decrease the probability of it happening out there! Have a read 😉
- Find out if you are allergic/intolerant to any food: Food allergies or intolerance can wreck havoc on your system on the best of times… add the stress of a run in there and you are just asking for trouble. Many of us have intolerances food that we might not even be aware of. If you feel like you have more GI upset than you think is normal such as bloating, feeling gasey, having loose stools or cramping it might be worth while to see what is causing this. I was having constant bloating and cramping and upset stomachs so I decided to start cutting things out. I tried dairy first since lactose intolerances are so common…. and BAM… a lot of my GI issues went away.It is so easy to find alternatives to things like dairy and gluten, so don’t be too upset if you have intolerances!
- Watch what you eat before a run: Breakfast is definitely key to a successful run… but figuring out what best sits with your stomach before you head of there is just as important as actually eating something. For so long, my absolute go to was whole wheat toast and peanut butter, and a huge smoothie packed with fruits and greens. When I spoke to my coach about my frequent number twos while running, the first thing she asked me was about breakfast. I honestly hadn’t even thought that my smoothie is basically just one big class of already partially broken down fibre that is going straight through me. She said cut the smoothie out on mornings that you run an have it when you get back with some protein as a recovery drink instead of a pre-run special. Knock on wood… that has been the most successful solution so far!
- Be mindful of what you have for dinner the night before: A big greasy burger, a beer and some french fries before a long run? Hellooooo stomach ache central!! It is pretty obvious that what we eat affects our bowel patterns, but sometimes as runners we think, heck I need to carb load before my run tomorrow and all good dietary choices go out the window. Try and eat basic, simple foods the night before a long run or race. Your system will have a much easier time digesting it in the evening and through the night so by the time you wake up, it should be ready to exit the premise, kindly.
- Try and go to the bathroom before you run: I know this sounds SO basic.. but sometimes you have to start your run super early and you might not have time to visit the loo. I recommend trying to get up a little earlier and walking around the house while you get ready to try and wake up the bowels. Being able to go before a run is SUCH a relief and will help decrease any early run GI upset.
- Experiment with caffeine: I for one, do not drink coffee, but I know a lot of runners do. Caffeine, especially coffee is a natural laxative. I know, I know… runners love coffee and caffeine for that extra boost it gives us with energy, but it also gives our bowels a boost too. Everyone has a different level of sensitivity to caffeine, so I won’t make any official recommendations other than to just see how it affects you personally. Try and get that cup of joe in an hour before your run so at least it has had a chance to work its way through your system. This is all about figuring out what works for your body!
- Nibble and sip during your run: Instead of scarfing down food and chugging water, try and space out your consumption. Small, frequent sips of water or electrolytes is much kinder on the stomach than drinking a huge amount at once. Sipping and nibbling slowly allows your gut to absorb nutrients efficiently with as little work as possible and minimizes any stomach grumbling. Also, quick eating or gulping generally involves swallowing some air, which can lead to gas, cramps, and eventually, a bathroom break.
So, the moral of this story is that everyone is different and there for everyones bowels are different. These are just some tips that I have researched and have been told by my coach. If you keep having crappy runs… maybe play around with a few of these tips and see if your mid-run poops decrease!! Happy running!