Runner’s Diarrhea Isn’t Actually ‘Normal’



You’ve seen the photographs: Those the place a runner is roofed in their very own feces, struggling by the top of a race. Perhaps your marathon-running bestie has struggle tales of barely making it to the porta-potty—or not making all of it. However runner’s trots are regular, proper? Properly, no. It seems runner’s diarrhea is not a foregone conclusion to logging miles.

When you’ve got runner’s diarrhea, one thing wants to vary. Dirty shorts are usually not a badge of operating honor. It’s truly improper fueling and dehydration that may lead to unlucky bowel emergencies. And yep, it’s principally preventable.

We chatted with two sports activities dietitians who specialize within the area of operating and vitamin to get the within information on why operating can provide the runs, and find out how to hold it from taking place.

Is diarrhea whereas operating regular?

If operating is clearing greater than your thoughts, you aren’t alone. Kylee Van Horn, RDN, of Flynutrition works with endurance athletes trying to hit PRs and enhance general well being— together with advanced intestine points.

“Some runners could expertise one thing known as ischemic colitis when operating, however many runners may expertise diarrhea and have it attributable to their vitamin earlier than, throughout, or in on a regular basis life,” she explains.

Ischemic colitis is attributable to blood circulate being directed away from the colon to the muscle tissue. However that’s not essentially the rationale on your runner’s trots, and ischemic colitis is much more common1 for ultrarunners than leisure runners.

So what’s it about operating that will get the bowels transferring? “The ‘why’ shouldn’t be all the time straightforward to pinpoint. In response to Van Horn, different causes may embrace:

Certainly, under-fueling is likely one of the largest culprits Van Horn sees time and again.

All that to say, pooping your pants isn’t an indication that you just’ve hit a magical coaching aim. It may very well be a severe intestine challenge…or improper vitamin.

Somewhat than accepting it as a traditional a part of operating, attending to the “backside” of it’s a good suggestion. In case you select races by what number of porta-potties are on the route, take into account evaluating your vitamin and intestine well being. Van Horn explains what that appears like:

  • To start out, making certain you don’t have any underlying intestine abnormalities
  • Dialing in hydration and electrolyte methods pre- and through train
  • Guaranteeing that your fueling plan is constructed and examined earlier than race day and that you just range carbohydrate sorts throughout train
  • Perceive what ‘consuming sufficient’ as a runner appears like
  • Decreasing fiber, fats, and protein pre-run

However why accomplish that many runners act like runner’s diarrhea is only a regular a part of the game? Once you meet a fellow runner, it’s an on the spot friendship. You speak about our lengthy runs, races, and mishaps—together with gastro mishaps. It’s nearly like a degree of satisfaction. 

I feel folks simply have heard tales about ‘pushing themselves’ bodily to their limits, and so they assume pooping your pants is included in that,” Van Horn says. However dropping management of your bowels shouldn’t be the aim.

How will you stop runner’s diarrhea?

Fortuitously, some tweaks in your vitamin plan could stop your race day toilet breaks. Nevertheless it isn’t an in a single day repair. Fueling your runs requires intention.

“Simply as you prepare for a race, it’s a must to additionally prepare your intestine to simply accept meals!” says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and board-certified sports activities dietitian who has labored with {many professional}, Olympic, collegiate, and highschool groups and athletes. “It requires follow.”


Whereas the following tips will hopefully have you ever hitting your PR, not the bathroom, if diarrhea persists, you’ll want to speak to your physician.

Right here’s find out how to get began:

Throughout a run

Positive, most races supply gels and chews alongside the way in which, but when it’s your first time with that product, you’re taking a danger.

“Don’t exit on race day downing a few energy gels and anticipate your abdomen to have the ability to tolerate them with out follow,” says Ehsani.

How will you train your gut2 for mid-workout gas? Ehsani recommends beginning slowly.

“Start by having a sports drink as your exercise gas. Sports activities drinks are straightforward to tolerate and supply easy-to-digest carbs, electrolytes, and fluid,” she says. “When you’ve managed to tolerate sports activities drinks with out points throughout your coaching runs, strive strong meals akin to a sports activities gel, GU, or jelly beans.”

Yep, jelly beans: These are made primarily of quick-to-digest carbs, so they need to be straightforward to tolerate. Begin with half a serving (that’s about 20g, or 18 jelly beans) and make your means as much as a full serving.

Earlier than a run

It’s tempting to skip breakfast to keep away from a toilet emergency, however underfueling isn’t the reply. As an alternative, Ehsani suggests coaching your intestine for pre-run nutrition as properly.

“Observe the identical technique: Begin with a sports activities drink, then check out a sports activities meals like power gels, then work your means as much as an entire meals, akin to a granola bar or piece of fruit like banana or dried fruit like raisins.”

Select simply digested meals

What and whenever you eat issues.

“Timing is every little thing and so is the meals you select. Don’t have a full-blown meal, akin to a grain bowl an hour earlier than your run,” Ehsani says.

She recommends having your final meal 3 to 4 hours previous to the beginning of a run and having an easy-to-tolerate snack 1 to 2 hours earlier than your run. This snack must be low-fat, low-fiber and low in protein. It ought to strictly be straightforward to tolerate carbs: as a chunk of fruit, a handful of pretzels, crackers, or a number of power chews.

And whereas fiber and protein are necessities within the weight loss program, you don’t need them proper earlier than a run.

“Keep away from something fibrous, wealthy in fats, or excessive in protein as these meals take loads longer on your intestine to interrupt down and digest,” she says.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Lastly, proper hydration is key to gut health. Ehsani recommends hydrating all day, moderately than simply earlier than a run.

“In case you gulp down cups and cups of fluid proper earlier than your run, that may probably upset your abdomen,” she says. “To be well-hydrated throughout your run, you’ll want to hold a water bottle or glass close by and sip from all of it day.”


Properly+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, current, sturdy research to again up the knowledge we share. You’ll be able to belief us alongside your wellness journey.

  1. Ho, Garry W Ok. “Decrease gastrointestinal misery in endurance athletes.” Present sports activities drugs reviews vol. 8,2 (2009): 85-91. doi:10.1249/JSR.0b013e31819d6b7b

  2. Tiller, Nicholas B et al. “Worldwide Society of Sports activities Diet Place Stand: dietary concerns for single-stage ultra-marathon coaching and racing.” Journal of the Worldwide Society of Sports activities Diet vol. 16,1 50. 7 Nov. 2019, doi:10.1186/s12970-019-0312-9


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