Friday, December 16, 2016

How To Not Poop Your Pants While Running

Warning: we are about to get a little closer.  Being running friends means we can talk about things that you normally wouldn't with non-running people.  So if you're not comfortable with that, you may want to stop reading.  Like right now.  This is your last chance to exit this post ... okay you've now been warned.
WARNING!!
Today, my dad sent me an email that was one of those, "hey maybe you should look at this" emails. You know, one of those gentle pushes that only a parent or close friend can make.  Because it was a really useful article, I wanted to share it, but to do that I also have to fess up to something: for nearly the entire 26.2 miles of the New York City Marathon, I felt like I was about to poop my pants.  To be clear, I did not actually poop my pants, but the situation was pretty critical for a while!
(Virgin Money London Marathon)
In all my years of running, this has never been an issue and hasn't been an issue since.  I have known plenty of runners who suffer from GI issues - one of the most common being "Runner's Trots."  Peter Sagal wrote one a really great, funny article about it last year for Runners World.  I have just been fortunate enough to never have to plan my runs around potty locations.  So what then happened to me in New York?  Based on the article my dad was pointing me to, How to Avoid Stomach Problems On the Run, I think I have a couple of ideas:

1. I get really nervous before marathons.  Stress can release hormones that can slow or even stop your digestive processes (this definitely happened to me).  Once the race starts though, the nerves subside because you don't have the time or energy to worry, which can then restart your digestive process at the most inopportune time.
2. Though I had experimented with energy chews on an 18 miler before the race (without issue), the majority of my training was done without.  It's possible this could have wreaked havoc on my digestive tract the day of the race.
Wouldn't know there were any issues by these smiles!
If you have stomach issues, but neither of these apply to you, other factors could be causing them.  Simply the action of running (tons of bouncing up and down on your system) or certain foods could be irritating.  But the good news is that there are things you can do.  For me, I'm experimenting with a new fueling system - Tailwind - during my long runs (so far, going GREAT). You may want to experiment with one of multiple of these things:

1. Eat lower fiber foods the day before a big run/race.
2. Do a little warm-up run to "get things moving" with time to hit the port-a-potties before hitting your start corral.
3. Adjust your carb/sugar/hydration plan for race day.  Being under-hydrated or too much carb/sugar mix could cause problems.

So if you have belly issues, don't worry you're not alone! There are lots of different things to try.  And worst case, you wouldn't be the first person to poop your pants while running - Grete Waitz famously had diarrhea, kept running despite millions of people watching, and still won the New York City Marathon.  Maybe Grete Waitz was with me in spirit that day ... I just wish she had picked a different way to make her presence known.

Have you ever had stomach problems during a big race?
What are some of your biggest lessons learned?

9 comments:

  1. Oh gosh. I had a similar experience when I ran Grandma's Marathon (June 2015...there's a race recap in my blog archives if you want more details). I had a bad training season (crazy busy non-running obligations that spring), so my long runs were not ideal.And, I had my first-ever PF flareup a mere three weeks prior to race day. With nothing to lose, and only hoping for a "vertical" finish, I decided to use fruit snacks for fuel. I think I had used them for a few of my training runs (but my training was erratic at best). Around mile 13 or 14, all of a sudden, I had that urge to find a porta-pot. And, again at mile 15. And (again) for almost every mile mark....finally around mile 22, I felt fine. Thankfully, NO accidents, but I HAD to stop at every available porta-pot for those middle 7 or 8 miles. Looking back, it was probably a sugar overdose (from the fruit snacks) mixed with too much Gatorade (instead of alternating Gatorade with water). UGH! Lesson learned!!

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    1. I think similar things may have happened to us. Definite lesson learned, much practice needed with fueling before a marathon! I'm so glad that neither of us a disaster, but it was definitely not pleasant. Going to try really hard not to repeat it :)

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  2. Okay, here's my TMI: I never poop on vacations, so I am also completely paranoid during runDisney race weekends!! Last January's Dopey Challenge was especially troublesome. The struggle is real.

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    1. Thanks for sharing! I struggle with the same on vacation and that makes destination races so tough. You're right, the struggle is real! Haha!

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  3. Knock wood, no accidents here but there have definitely been times when I needed to hit the potty pronto. I distinctly remember Greta running and the cameras just kept showing her. So gross but I suppose if you've got a chance of winning...still...ugh.

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    1. Yeah running through that takes a special kind of runner. So thankful my New York experience didn't turn into a disaster. If it did, I'd definitely hope no one would get it on camera!

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  4. Haha! You've read my blog for a while right? This is one of my biggest fears!

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    1. It's quickly becoming one of mine! Never had an issue before now and really never want to again!

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  5. Running keeps the body fit and makes you healthy. These are the precautions which should be taken before running. Eat light foods which have less carbohydrates, do little warm ups and drink lot of water before running.

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