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Bathroom Issues While Running: A Five Step Guide to Tackle and Fix Them

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As you take running to the level of long runs and marathons, one thing that can be annoying is visits to the toilet. Bathroom issues can get unnerving especially during an important run, not only because they will make you lag behind other runners, but also because a toilet may not be accessible when you have the urge to use one.Worry not, we have made an awesome list of dos and don’ts for you to avoid running to the bathroom in the middle of your run.

Know more here:

  • Bathroom Issues While Running: Reasons to Know
  • 5 Steps to Prevent Bathroom Issues During Running
  • Wrapping Up

Bathroom Issues While Running: Reasons to Know

Before listing the points to be kept in mind to avoid bathroom issues while running, let us briefly understand the various reasons behind these impromptu bathroom visits.

  • Your Pre-run Meal

The diet you take, especially before your run, can affect your digestion and result in frequent bathroom issues. This is also true for certain brands or kinds of energy bars. What goes inside your stomach before your run is mostly responsible for toilet trips during your run. Keep a check of your diet, what you eat the morning before or night before the run. Opt for carbohydrate-rich food and stay away from foods such as fatty foods, fibre rich foods, Vitamin C, spicy foods that can push you to rush to the bathroom during the run. 

healthy food for runner
Healthy food options
  • Anxiety

This is a very common cause of gastric troubles that make you a bathroom runner in the middle of your race. Stress before a big event is completely natural and understandable. This stress and anxiety can have a more pronounced effect if you have had previous bathroom issues while running.

  • Your Mid Run Fuel

Sometimes, the occasional refuelling you do during your run can cause a sudden urge for a bathroom visit. This is because when you are running, the body diverts the blood to your brain and limbs, away from the stomach. A sudden action in the stomach, like a snack bar or even liquids, causes activity in the gastric tract.

  • Blood flow and GI tract

If you are a new runner, then you can often feel the urge to use the bathroom. You can blame the GI tract in your body for this. As you run, maximum blood flows to the active muscles. Due to this, there is a lack of blood flow in the GI tract and this causes an irritation to the GI tract. The body then tries to flushes out the irritating substances from the body, thus pushing you to use the bathroom. 

  • Fluids and sensitive stomach

Are you a morning person? Do you enjoy a cup of hot coffee or tea before your run? But at times during the run do you face bathroom issues? Well, then you have a sensitive stomach and these drinks are the troublemaker. Avoid them before your run and you are good to go. 

stomach pain
Sensitive stomach can make you run to the bathroom

Unplanned trips to the bathroom can happen without any specific reason too. Thus, if you have to take a bathroom break in the middle of the run, there is nothing to be ashamed of. However, there are a few things you can do to prevent the likelihood of bathroom issues when you are running.

5 Steps to Prevent Bathroom Issues During Running

Let us now look at the various ways by which you can avoid becoming a bathroom runner.

bathroom issue
How to prevent using the bathroom during the run (source)

Fix #1 Early to Bed and Early to Rise

Seriously, this adage is a super cool way to ensure general health and happiness. This also applies to bathroom issues while running. When you wake up early, you give the body enough time to carry on its business of digestion and metabolism. This way, you increase the chances of emptying the gut before your race or run. If on the other hand, you don’t have a lot of time before your run, you may or may not be able to empty your bowel completely, and it might be a problem going to the bathroom in the middle of the run.

Fix #2 Imodium to the Rescue

Imodium is a very popular drug used by many runners. It is easily available in the medical store and it slows down abdominal movement. Thus, it serves to prevent pooping while running. It is advisable to try Imodium a couple of times long before your big day to see how your body reacts to it. It is usually taken right before the race.

Fix #3 Dietary Planning

Not only how much and what to eat, but also when to eat is important to resolve your bathroom issues while running. Try to keep track of the effect of different food items that you eat and how do they affect your bathroom breaks during running. You can start a food journal and plan your dietary intake accordingly. Reduce fruits, fat foods, dairy foods such as cheese, yoghurt and notice how your body responds without these foods. 

Fix #4 Warming Up Before Running

Sometimes, your intestines pep up after a little warm up in the form of a low-intensity run or jog. This will warm up the gastric muscles and possibly induce a poop session. If this works for you, you could try a small session of jogging before the big race and empty your bowels.

Fix #5 Know Your Running Track

Finally, having a detailed information about your long running track will mentally prepare you to plan your race in case bathroom issues come up suddenly. Most long-running tracks have toilets at some points. Knowing how far those toilets are will be a mental back-up in case all the above-mentioned tricks fail.

Wrapping Up

Maintaining a healthy diet and a regular routine is an excellent way to ensure timely and complete bowel movements. However, it is absolutely normal to have an urge to visit the bathroom during your big run. One must remember that pooping is a natural thing, and there is no shame in taking a bathroom break while running. The five tips and tricks discussed above will largely take care of your bathroom issues during your run. If, however, you feel that a bathroom break is necessary, go ahead and do it. It might be a bit problematic if you don’t see a toilet nearby. In such a case, take refuge behind a tree or bushes. After all, running with your bowels full is not a good idea.

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