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Runner's Bowels :'(

Hey, time for a gross question!

So, I started C25K and I'm doing awesome; I'm on week 5 day 1, and I'm eager to see how I do on day 3, when I'll have to run 20 minutes straight with no walking breaks.

However, I have unstoppable pooping urges when I hit my 1 mile mark. I will poop right before I leave, run/walk for a mile, and have to go right away. Fortunately I live in the countryside, so I can just dive into a corn field and I'm pretty much assured no one will drive by.
It's gotten so consistent I've taken toilet paper with me!! :cry:

It's usually easy to hold it off until it's my walking break to 'use the cornfield', but I'm concerned about day 3 when I'm not supposed to stop! I don't want to cheat because I have to poop...

Any advice?


  • shaumom
    shaumom Posts: 1,003 Member
    I have NO idea if this is why, but here's a thought about why it might be happening.

    Aside from when we have an allergic reaction, the body also releases histamine to help elevate the heart rate when we need it. And one side effect can actually be a sudden urge to go or the runs. Takes a few minutes from the histamine release to the need to go, but it's something that some people with something called a histamine intolerance can have happen (which is where I heard of it), and sometimes regular folks, too.

    However, the body has to have a high enough histamine level before it starts to trigger symptoms, like the urge to go (or hives and flushing, for some folks). If a person can lower their overall histamine levels, that might actually make it so that the histamine release from running might not trigger this, potentially. Or if you can prevent the histamine from triggering anything, that could be of use.

    Of course, this is IF the histamine levels are at fault for this.

    Lowering the histamine level can involve a low histamine diet, maybe just while trying the running challenge? Or maybe just taking an antihistamine might help? Again, only if histamines are at fault for this. But, might be worth exploring some, maybe?
  • gmallan
    gmallan Posts: 2,099 Member
    What are you eating before your run?
  • DebSM2
    DebSM2 Posts: 62 Member
    In for answers...I also have this issue. Schedule dictates that I run very first thing in the morning between 4:30 and 5:00. Can't usually squeeze one out (sorry) first and by mile 2 of either 3or 4 planned, about 50% of the time I am expending lots of effort to not unload (sorry again.)

    Thankfully there are new sidewalks going in on part of my route so there is a portapotty that I have used more times than I care to think about...
  • knitapeace
    knitapeace Posts: 1,013 Member
    I don't run long distances, but I have found after about 2 years of running that this issue has disappeared. It was pretty bad there for a while though. You aren't the only one.
  • Steff46
    Steff46 Posts: 516 Member
    My boyfriend has the same problem.
    Bump for later.
  • dlr165
    dlr165 Posts: 118 Member
    Same for me too.
  • rydn4h2o
    rydn4h2o Posts: 255
    You're not alone. Thankfully I run on the treadmill at home so I can just hit STOP and take a break :(
  • MizTerry
    MizTerry Posts: 3,763 Member
    ROFL, you'd better ask the owner of said cornfield if you can fertilize his crops.

    It's pretty normal. I have this issue with suddenly having to pee if I run. It's why I prefer to power walk. :bigsmile:
  • julielh72
    julielh72 Posts: 92 Member
    This is commonly known as "Runners Trots"!! I suffered for a period of time when I started to increase the distance I was running. It has improved as I have become fitter although I still carry loo roll with me just in case!

    AVOID: Tea/Coffee prior to running. Spicy Food the night before/during day of run. Anything high in fibre.

    I eat a plain bagel and/or banana before a long run and allow at least an hour before setting off. This seems to be okay.

    Worst case - try taking Imodium Instants a few hours before running but don't rely on this long term. The issue will probably sort itself out in time.

    I hope this helps. xx
  • JustSomeEm
    JustSomeEm Posts: 20,227 MFP Moderator
    I had this problem, and for me, the solution is to drink a cup of coffee about a half hour before I'm planning on running. My kids call it my 'poop juice'. I drink, then sit and chill for a bit, then head to the potty. Once that's all taken care of, I run. I'm not really running long distances yet, though - my farthest is about 5.5 miles - but it's plenty far enough to cause me issues if the 'trots' come to visit.

    Good luck!
  • MiloBloom83
    MiloBloom83 Posts: 2,724 Member
    It's an issue that will go away as your body gets used to you running. It used to hit me hard. I'm an evening runner, so before i would go for my run, i always try to take a pre-game. That said, it's an issue that still pops up from time to time. I try to run on a mostly empty stomach.
  • melduf
    melduf Posts: 468 Member
    I started running in April. At first, I felt the need to poop after 3-4 minutes. Now that I run 25 minutes non stop, I feel it mostly after 10 minutes, or around 1K. But if I just tough it out, it goes away. Luckily, because I run on the university campus!! :embarassed:

    Some food are known to increase constipation... You could try eating those a few hours prior to your run. Apples, bananas, rice, cheese, cooked carrots... Good luck!
  • tkillion810
    tkillion810 Posts: 591 Member
    I would be interested to see what you are eating for 24 hours prior to your runs. Also, what time of day are you running?

    I had the issue for quite some time. Part of it is the body adjusting to the jostling of the stomach contents. It does get better! For me I found certain things/foods triggered it, specifically artificial sweeteners, like those found in sugar free gums (sorbitol, malitol, think "ol words). Another tip I found to be very helpful during my transition was to train the body to go at certain times of the day - when it's more convenient for you. You can do this by just sitting on the toilet for a period of time every day at the same time. Eventually the body will learn to adjust to your schedule.
  • explosivedonut
    explosivedonut Posts: 419 Member
    It happens to me, but usually around the 5 mile mark. What I personally have found is that the distance I can go before I need to go is directly correlated with how much I have been running. If I run more often, I have to go less often. The less I run, the sooner I get those problems. For instance, last year I was running a lot more than I have been this year. I ran a half marathon without needing to go, but I was used to running 10+ miles during my runs. Now, I haven't been running as much, so my distance has decreased.

    To others who can't just run into a corn field, stay within a block or two of your house/apartment. When you feel the need, get back to the house, do your business, and get back out there.
  • LeanButNotMean44
    LeanButNotMean44 Posts: 852 Member
    I do almost all of my runs under a "code brown" situation - it's the ONLY thing that gets my bowels moving these days. :sad:
  • Squirrel698
    Squirrel698 Posts: 127 Member
    Been there, done that, I know, it's hell. I run in my neighborhood and like to go at least an hour or 10K. It sucks getting the urge so hard and still being 3 miles away from home. The cramps in particular were so horrible that I could barely limp, much less run.

    Any rate what cured me is giving up gluten, first off. While I'm not allergic to it, I am sensitive and it irritates my intestinal track. The only thing that helped me, and this is coming to be unpopular, is the Master Cleanse. It really cleared out all the compacted crap in my bowels and it was able to heal enough that my body can take the running again.

    Right now I still get the urge but not with the stomach wringing cramps so I can just ignore it and wait until I get home. I eat clean as possible and take a natural herbal laxative in the mornings after the run. It helps me to clear out before I go out the next morning.
  • BlueFisherKing
    BlueFisherKing Posts: 28 Member
    I would be interested to see what you are eating for 24 hours prior to your runs. Also, what time of day are you running?

    I run in the evening, about an hour before sunset; so yesterday at 7:30 p.m.
    I ate a peanut-butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread two hours before my run (any sooner and I throw up :sick: ) which has become my pre-run meal.

    I'm encouraged to know that others who have run consistently have gotten this problem under control as their body adjusts, I just really don't want to have to poop on my 20 min run :cry:
    Maybe I'll just change my diet the day of the run...but that might cause new problems.

    Maybe I'll just avoid all
  • alpine1994
    alpine1994 Posts: 1,915 Member
    Yeah, this is something that concerns me too. I don't think it ever got to the point where I needed to find a bathroom ASAP (but I run at a park near my house so I know I can make it home in a few minutes if I REALLY had to) but I usually get some kind of stomach pain/cramping at some point during my run. I actually didn't this morning and it was the first time I could think of when I was totally fine.

    I run fasted, first thing in the morning. I drink a little water and head out the door for 3-4 miles during the week and 5-6 on Saturday. Fasted seems to be best for me to keep away stomach pain, but my friend assured me that the more I run, the less of an issue it becomes. I see that other people on this thread said the same thing so that makes me feel better! Even today was an improvement and I've been running regularly for 5 weeks (training for a half). My #1 fear is not finishing my half due to stomach issues so hopefully that goes away within the next 3 months...
  • LoneWolfRunner
    LoneWolfRunner Posts: 1,160 Member
    I get this periodically.... but almost exclusively on my road runs...and inevitably when I'm about five or six miles from the house. And on the days I actually remember to pack TP, I never have to go... I run between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning so I guess the running just wakes things up...

    I do agree with the posters that said increasing distances seems to decrease the urges...

    I've just concluded that my system just likes to screw with me on occasion to keep me humble...
  • SharpieV
    SharpieV Posts: 26 Member
    I've been getting back into running in the past month or so, and man, but this problem has been hitting me hard. Luckily for me, I have a 1.5mi loop I run that has a portapotty on one corner... so far I've had to stop and make a visit every time I run anything over 4 miles! I have never previously had this issue and am glad to hear that it resolves itself over time for most folks. I hope I am one of them, because having to stop and walk a bit to ...erm... control my gut is far worse of a feeling than having to slow down in order to catch my breath!