If you’ve ever had a pretty hefty meal before you go to the gym or before a jog, you probably have experienced the sudden desire to poop in between runs.
If you run a marathon and have had this happen to you, I feel for you! Nothing kills more time on the tracks than a bathroom break and in any race, every second counts!
The Science Behind Running & Dumping
The reasoning behind why this happens should be quite straightforward; when you are running and active, you also cause some serious movement in your intestines.
Running is a bit like continuous mini jump, with each step slightly increasing the pressure in your colon cavity. This can happen even if you don’t feel particularly bloated at that time. Simply put, running may also create the illusion of the need to poop, even when there isn’t the pressing need to do so.
And you know what’s almost as bad as constipation? Being sold a delusion that you need to poop when you really don’t! The fact that running can cause this is quite convenient. You probably won’t be running around when you’re trying to force a poop out as that would just be weird!
But on the contrary, when you’re trying to hold it in and don’t have a toilet nearby, the mere fact that running will increase the pressure in your bladder also means your process of finding a toilet or going to the nearest one is made even slower!
Effect on Bladder
Running also contributes to a pressed bladder in other ways as well. For one, when you start running, blood circulation really speeds up and as is usually the case, the blood flow moves to the parts of the body that is hard at work to ensure you are running at a decent speed.
The faster you run, the more prominent the impact of this. The removal of blood from the intestines to the lower parts of the body can at times, cause distress and contractions in that region, prompting a sudden urge to poop out of nowhere. This is less of a problem when running a marathon, however, so if you’re into shorter sprints, perhaps consider running straight to the toilets after you’re done with the race!
The medals can wait but your bladder might not!
Running also causes a different physiological change; it increases the motility of your colons, which is basically how soft your stool is.
This usually determines how often you have to poop. Many of the glands in your stomach get stimulation as a result of all the bouncing that your stomach will undergo as a result of running and that can cause secretion of food-processing hormones that can contribute to a sudden urge to poop.
Another bodily process, called mucosal permeability, regulates the passage of food from the intestines to the dispensing organs of the body. Alterations in the mucosal permeability are likely to suddenly try to force digested food matters inside the intestines out into the world.
This is also a primary reason why during a jog, it’s usually the case that the urge to poop is sudden and often, very high pressure!
Foods to Avoid
Finally, certain foods, in conjunction with a run, is the perfect recipe for a brown downpour from your posteriors! Certain foods that take longer to process or are likely to cause softer stool, particularly fibers, and fats, will have even more of an impact as a result of running after having them.
These food types are already known to cause issues with your tracts and in conjunction with dehydration, something runners are likely to experience, will also make your stomach worse.
So what can you do to combat this? First of all, do not have big meals before a run or a jog. Since food takes a few hours to process, just don’t have anything at least 3 hours before a scheduled jog while you’re at it. Can’t be too hard, can it?
If you’re scheduled for a run, try to avoid having high fiber foods from the previous day. This is also true for food items that can cause you to have gas and other types of tolerance problems in your stomach.
If they are part of any dietary requirements or recommendations and you can’t avoid them, try to limit them as much as possible and separate the meal into pre-run and post-run parts, where you consume the majority of it post-run.
Other food items such as caffeine are also known to cause issues with the intestines when running. Caffeine will also increase the propensity to experience dehydration so you shouldn’t really have caffeine before running anyway.
If you are hungry, maybe stuff yourself with water instead of having anything that might cause you to take a detour and cost you a position during a race. A pee takes considerably less time and more often than not, a sudden surge of consumption of water will increase the propensity of you going for a pee right at that moment.
Food, on the other hand, has a more delayed demand to hit the toilets afterward!
Finally, try to come up with a daily routine that controls the timings of your poop sessions. On the day of the run, just don’t do anything different. Pretty easy, yeah? Sometimes, just changing up our routine can cause unexpected things to happen, such as the urge to take a dump in the most inopportune of times!
By creating and sticking to a routine, you will make it much easier to train your psyche to not create the urge to poop at bad timings by making sure you get the urge at the usual time, as per your routine.
The urge to poop during a run can be very annoying but it is what it is and it’s something that you have to learn to cope with if the need arises during a run. Is it better to take a bathroom break and losing the race or would you rather win the race with brown pants? That’s your call to make!