TMI – Running & pooping!

I have had a lot of questions about running and pooping and/or racing and pooping. And while I’m not a medical doctor, I just thought I’d share some things that work (and don’t work) for me and others I’ve talked to.

​I 100% cannot start a run without pooping first. All my running buddies know this about me. If you’re a runner, I’m sure you have talked about different bathroom issues/concerns with people you run with. And if not, you should! Or we can just chat here. : )

I have at least half a cup of coffee before any run. Coffee helps get things going and it doesn’t upset my stomach if I don’t have too much. I make sure to get up at least an hour before a training run and two to three hours before a race. For training runs, this amount of time and coffee work really well for me. I almost always have time to go before I meet anyone to run. For races, my nerves are usually at play, too, so I tend to hit up the bathroom more than once. I almost always go twice at home and then once right before race start. If I can do this, I USUALLY don’t have to go mid-race. 
I have friends who can’t have any caffeine at all. That’s the only way they’re able to get through a run without the poops. I can’t function without coffee, so that’s not an option for me, but if you’re having issues with bathroom stuff before/during runs, check into your caffeine intake! 
Nutrition is another big part of poops and running for me. The last thing we want to do during a race is stop at the Porta Potty, but sometimes that’s a must. If you do have to pull over, try to make it fast. I had one race where I literally thought I was going to die. I had to poop so bad and had terrible poop cramps – you know what I’m talking about? It was miserable. I made it to a Porta Potty and I had never been so happy. I remember thinking that I never wanted that to happen again, so I started paying more attention to the things I was eating before and during races. This was huge for me. 

​Things I cannot have before a race – dairy, anything high fiber, anything high fat, and any whole grain products. The morning of a race I have a white bagel with almond butter and honey. I can’t do peanut butter before a run, it makes me feel nauseous, but I can do almond butter. Ever since I stopped doing wheat toast before runs, I haven’t had too many issues. Knock on wood. Do you know what your triggers are? If not, I’d pay attention and make note of things that bother your stomach as well as the things that don’t. Nutrition can make or break a race, in my opinion. Also, I don’t suggest ever trying something new during a race. Practice makes perfect, right? That’s why we train. That’s also why you should practice your nutrition. 

My 10 tips to avoid a mid-run poop:
1. Get up before your run so you have enough time to poop before you hit the road.
2. Know what foods trigger your bowels and stay away from them. (I can’t have whole grains, peanut butter, dairy, or fruit before a race/run.)
3. Practice race nutrition AND know what works best for your body. This is totally individualized, so what works for your best friend may not work for you.
4. Drink water. Make sure you’re hydrated. 
5. If you’re going to use the nutrition the race provides, that’s fine, but make sure you know what it is AND you’ve practiced using it on your own. 
6. Don’t have 6 vodka waters the night before a race. Trust me. Should I do a post on racing while hungover? I have done this a few times. Definitely don’t recommend it. 
7. Do a long training run using all of the things you will use for your race, including your dinner the night before. 
8. Poo at the race site, right before you start.
9. Know how caffeine affects you. (During races, I can use hydration mixes that contain caffeine, but I don’t do as well if I use gels with caffeine, too. I try to find gels that don’t have caffeine.)
10. Know where emergency pit stops are – you never know what’s going to happen!
Everyone poops. And as athletes, it’s something that can really impact an activity.

​I’d love to hear your tips for avoiding poops when you don’t want them! Also, my Mom was nervous about this post. She literally asked me if I was going to share pictures of poop…so, there’s that. Thanks, Momma! ; )

Happy Wednesday, friends!


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  1. Michelle Hartgraves

    The nerves pre race are the worst! I can’t stay way from the bath room. My husband told me that if I ever have constipation to just pretend I am going to run a race that day, lol. Also, when I started raining for long distance, I found that I didn’t need as much fuel at one time as I thought or that candy is a big no no for me. I gave me runner trots. #gettingpersonalupinhere. #poophappens

      • Michelle Hartgraves

        Some people really love it but if your sensitive like me, I would stay away. Also, I really should of proof read my post before publishing, oof! That grammar and spelling! Oh and I totally love hashtags! 😎 #mydaughterthinksIamadork

  2. Becky

    Ha great post! I have a serious aversion to pooping in a porta potty, what about splash back??! The thought of that grossness splashing back/up on you is crippling. How does one conquer such a fear?

    • Chelsea

      Oh my gosh, Becky. That is one of my fears, too!! I just hover and hope it doesn’t get me. Hahah! I am also terrified a snake will be in there and it will bite me. Every time. Why is pooping so scary?!

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