15 Tips to Avoid Runners Trots (aka Runner’s Diarrhea)

During my time running, I’ve dealt with IT band issues, aches, pains, debilitating calf cramps, even a dislocated rib…but luckily I’ve had the rare experience with the politely named “runners trots” (more accurately named runner’s diarrhea).

For those unfamiliar, this is a generic term to referring to the GI issues experienced by at least 35% of runners during either training or on race day.

Which makes locations of porta potties an important factor in race selection!

I noticed a number of the runners I coach were suddenly on the struggle bus with this particular issue and feeling super embarrassed they kept it to themselves until it was making training a lot less fun.

After lots of research and many ideas, I thought hearing from a few other coaches/runners would help provide some solutions! (If your issue is peeing while running <<– read this).

15 Tips to Resolve Runner’s Diarrhea

Here are 15 tips from those who have been there or helped many others through this uncomfortable issue.

First up some tips from fellow running coaches, then we’ll move on to other ideas for reviewing exactly what might be the cause of your problem and how to ensure it’s not a race day issue.

Tip 1: Less Fiber
I usually suggest to start increasing the interval between when you consume something and your workout or race. If that does not help, sticking to more refined carb sources in advance of exercise can be beneficial. While not as nutritious as whole grain sources they are easier for the body to digest…” – Matt Runner Academy

Tip 2: Be Patient with Your Body
“Be patient , often “the trots” go away, or get better after you’ve been running for awhile, and eliminate fiber rich foods the night before a big run.” – Lisa RunWiki

Tip 3: Food Log
Keep a food log, especially when it comes to seeing what you’re eating right before a run – this will help you figure out what are your best/worst ‘running foods.’ ” – Krissy Murphy

Tip 4: Lots of Digestion Time
“- try to eat dinner at least 12 hours before your morning run or race, giving yourself time to digest
– think about taking artificial sweeteners out of your diet…Sometimes they can mess with your gut!” – a few of many from Jess A Pace of Me

Tip 5: Slow Down
Ease your pace up…things calm down…drinking some easy to digest liquid!” – Erica Gormanrunner porta pottyI’ll add to all of this, don’t be embarrassed!

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that runners have no problem with bathroom talk! Mostly because we’ve all experienced a time where we nearly became the mad pooper.

It’s not the same when you have to deal with it frequently, and I understand that, but know your running friends will be supportive and try to plan routes that will work best for you.

Why Do Runner’s Get Diarrhea?

Running requires the body to send blood to working muscles, which means it stops digesting food. This along with the jostling can speed the movement of food through the intestines creating that need to go feeling.

Additionally, if you have any kind of food sensitivity it might be present in your daily life, but only becoming truly a problem when you run and the gastric distress is ramped up. A runny nose, breakouts, fatigue and difficulty breathing are all symptoms.

It’s an embarrassing topic for many, but it happens! Preventing runners trots #runchat Click To Tweet

How to Stop Runner’s Trots

At the end of the day, mostly we all just want to know how to stop pooping while running! I don’t want you to become that crazy woman on the Colorado news, who was going in her neighbors yard everyday!

  1. Stay hydrated – many who report GI issues are dehydrated, which prevents the body from easily moving food through the system, so then as you start running it moves things for you.
  2. Keep a food journal to identify those food sensitivities and to see if you’re getting enough fiber to help you go consistently (which should be at least 1 time daily).
  3. Avoid the over the counter pain killers. A study of ultrarunners showed that those taking it during races started having far more issues with their intestines AND we know it’s harmful to your liver!
  4. Many runners swear by coffee, then restroom, before their run. Science backs this up by showing that it can help to get your digestive system moving.
  5. Be careful with caffeine though if you do have issues, checkout some caffeine free energy alternatives.
  6. Give your body time to…eh hem go before you head out in the morning. If you can find a way to create a routine, you’ll see your body soon goes every morning like clock work. Try training at different times of day to see if that impacts your bathroom process.
  7. Watch the fiber {I dislike the idea of cutting way down on fiber because of the health benefits, BUT if this is a major issue for you..well see the point about the food journal!}.
  8. Consider fueling with dried pineapple! I’ve talked before about this, but pineapple actually helps with digestion and the dried version will have the sugar you’re looking for while running.
  9. Digestive enzymes!! Probiotics! In general, look at what you can do to make sure your digestive system is working at it’s peak, this will help you to go as needed, rather than urgently.

What about Imodium for runners trots?

This over the counter medicine is used to help stop runners diarrhea by slowing the movement of food through your intestines. Many runners swear by taking a does prior to long runs or races and the side effects generally seem mild (like constipation), but it should be considered an option…not a solution.

It can also take up to 48 hours to work, so if you’re trying it for the first time on race day there are no guarantees.

Like any pain reliever, your best bet is to figure out the cause rather than trying to mask mug

Race Day Ideas for Handling Runner Trots

Some runners are fine in training and find that on race day they have GI issues, usually due to increased nerves.

Following are a few factors and solutions, plus checkout these tips to reduce race day nerves.

Keep it simple
Stick to gels you have tested during training. Try to train with the gel or drink they will have on the course or start using whole foods, anything that has helped your body know what to expect. The sudden influx of a sugary gel when you haven’t used them previously is a great way to find yourself seeking a bush.

Get up early
Give yourself and your body time to get things moving well before the start line. Same as above, eat the meals you’ve been eating throughout training not just on race morning, but the day before as well. My worst race experience ever was when I got crazy and had fried catfish the day before…oye.

Reduce Stress
The added stress of race day can cause issues due to changes in digestive enzymes. So in the days before try to spend a little extra time in restorative yoga, meditation or anything quiet and calming.

Travel Planning
Many find they are backed up after traveling, so consider taking some green powder or drinking a detox type tea (or my favorite Calm Magnesium drink) the first night you arrive to ensure you go. Then stick to known foods the days prior to the race.

Let’s shoot the ….no, really help out your fellow runners:

What helps you avoid bathroom issues while running?

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15 Tips to Avoid Runners Trots (aka Runner’s Diarrhea) is written by amanda for

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