Since I started writing about sweat in secret places and trying new things no matter how stupid you feel you look, I’ve been lucky to have all SORTS of conversations about all SORTS of embarrassing things. And lucky for YOU I have no problem writing all about it! Just last week, one of my sister-in-laws and I had the following conversation:

SIL: Sooooo… I have an embarrassing question about something that happens when you go out for a run. Well, actually I’m asking for a friend of mine. She was wondering about, you know, sometimes when you are way out away from your house, maybe like on the Seawall or on the Burke-Gilman Trail and you feel like you have to, you know, there’s a real urgency-

ME: You mean you have to make poopies?

SIL: OMG yes! It’s the worst! I mean, for my friend of course. It’s the worst for HER.

ME: Ahh yes, I know what you mean very well. The runner’s trots are a real problem. Don’t be embarrassed. I mean, yes be embarrassed but don’t feel bad about it. It’s science and it is solvable!

According to science, the feeling to make caca while out on a run affects almost half of all runners at some point. HALF! This was surprising even for me. Running up and down jiggles your insides that can cause some mechanical stimulation, bringing on that numero dos feeling. Another contributing factor is that normal blood flow is shunted away from your intestines towards your working muscles which can slow digestion (sidebar: next time you’re in a workout or run, put your hand on your stomach, it should feel cool!) Combo this with the release of hormones that can speed up “transit time” and this can create a confusing environment. Your guts are under serious duress.

Luckily, the internets are here to help. Here are some of the more helpful tips for keeping the trots from ruining your trot:

  1. Avoid obvious trigger foods such as fiber, caffeine and triple bean burritos for the few hours leading up to your run. Even though it takes 24-72 hours to clear your gut, sometimes this can help, especially for longer races
  2. Stay hydrated.
  3. Establish a routine. Your bowels are creatures of habit so the important thing is to find a routine that works – whether it includes a cup of morning coffee or some yoga poses
  4. Plan your route carefully. One of the things that have worked for me during a particularly urgent bout of training runs in the late 90s is doing a bit of route planning. Plan your longer runs to ensure you encounter a restroom some time in the first couple miles of your route. Or, if that is too complicated, complete a loop for the first mile so you will be close to your home turf.

Full disclosure, this phenomenon went away once I stopped doing distance runs. For others though, the distance doesn’t matter and the sensation to make boom-boom is ever present. So much so that it may or not have precipitated the purchase of a treadmill for our family. (This is heresay.)

I hope these tips have been helpful the next time you are out running and you have to go see a guy about a dog.

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