I Pooped my Pants Running and I'm O.K.
The title says it all.
I was on mile 8 of a 17 mile run, still in my ‘easy pace’ and feeling really blissful. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping. I felt a little rumble in my stomach and thought nothing of it, turned my music up a little bit and kept on my merry way. Until disaster struck.
Yes I thought it was a fart. No, it was in fact not a fart.
Here’s the thing though, I am still running. And I still love it.
Why? So many reasons. The main one being that I can have the worst day and a good run seems to make it all better. Tuning out the world and tuning into my stride and the road ahead is therapy for me. So I continue running because I need it.
Do I want to run another marathon in March? Yes. Do I want to poop myself during it? No. So I researched the crap out of how to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
First of all, the number of runners who experience these issues are astounding. This is taken from the experts of dookie over at Squatty Potty:
‘Various studies have shown that 30 to 83 percent of runners reported experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) distress, which can include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and even acid reflux while running.’
30-83%??? That’s a whole lot of runners having some not so great runs (pun intended).
So how can you control your bowels when you are at mile 20 of 26.2 and there is no port-a-potty in sight? That I do not have the answer to. But I do know a guy who can create a new identity for you if you need it. DM me.
Ok but seriously, once your bowels are distressed there’s not a lot you can do. The best thing to focus on is prevention. So here are 3 things you can do to prevent getting the runs on your runs, and 2 things you can do to prepare for the worst case scenario.
Keep a poop schedule and coordinate your run schedule around it
If you are regular, there is a time of day that your body will naturally empty itself, making it prime time for you to hit the pavement. If you don’t know when that it, track your bathroom trips and try to find your best window to run. Whatever you do, do not show anyone your poop schedule. They will know what times of day you are most vulnerable and who knows what they might do with this information. Stay aware. Stay alert.
Track your food intake to locate any troublemakers
If you are constantly experiencing stomach issues during your runs, you are likely consuming something that is causing this. Fats, fiber, chocolate, dairy, high calorie meals can all contribute to bowel problems if eaten a few hours before a run. That might mean you have to cut out the nacho cheese the night before your long run (which is exactly what I ate before this happened to me). Or you need to run first thing in the morning while your stomach is empty. This is going to be trial and error, so keep track of what you are eating and how you feel. If you think there might be a multitude of culprits, you can try the B.R.A.T. diet the day before or day of a run (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast). These foods are binding and can make your stool firm and easier to pass before you hit the road. Consider yourself a lab rat and the road is the lab. Take notes, keep tabs on your diet, and try to find patterns so you can cut out anything that is irritating your gut.
Talk to your doctor about Imodium
I am not one for overly medicating yourself on the daily, but if you are in serious need, Imodium could be a great option. This OTC medicine slows down gut movements and makes stools less watery. I have zero personal experience using Imodium while running, but I know tons of friends who have used it for other issues and have no problems with it. Always talk to your doctor before using medications like these.
Bring some TP on your runs
This is more of a bandaid than a real solution to your problem, but based on the amount of runners who experience these issues, I recommend you bring wipes of some sort. If not for you, for your running partner. You can buy single packets of these cute little wipes from SweetSpot Labs. Or just fold up some TP and put it in a plastic sandwich bag and stuff that in a pocket somewhere. Always make sure you get rid of your ‘trash’ either by burying it camping style or tossing it in a nearby trashcan.
Plan your run around public restrooms
Again, this is a bandaid and not a real solution. It will be helpful to have a bathroom nearby if the doodie fairy strikes. I have one running route that has a bathroom I can always rely on to be clean and well stocked with TP (thank to living in a really nice suburban area, soccer moms you’re the real MVPs). Public parks, baseball fields, soccer fields, and gas stations can be great spots to guarantee you have a last minute spot to squat if you need it. Unfortunately I have not found a resource to locate public restrooms near you that posts their open hours, so you’re going to need to explore yourself.
It is not the most glamorous part of running but it’s a reality so many of us face. I never knew so many runners experienced something similar to me until I shared what happened on my Instagram Story. The poop stories came flooding in! Which made me a) impressed with how runners really own their shit and b) really interested in finding a way to help all runners prevent a mid-run visit from Doctor Doo-Doo.
Have you soiled yourself on a run? Let’s have story time in the comments!
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