Embarrassing problem

by Henry
(Australia )

55 years old male only got back to jogging after gym closure due to COVID. I am wondering if anyone experience the need to release their bowels once they start running? I often have to turn back and look for a toilet. Henry

Nicole's reply
Hi Henry, I totally understand that you feel this is embarrassing but actually it is a very common issue. What you are describing is often referred to as "runners trots".

When you start out on a run, your body releases adrenaline and this adrenaline acts like an alert system for your cardiovascular system to help your body cope with the increase in exercise. However this adrenalin along with the shaking of your bowels and its contents, also affects your bowels and makes you feel the need to empty them.

Don't despair though as there is a way to deal with it but it is generally a case of trail and error and by seeing what works for you.

In your case it could be that as you have not been exercising for a while and you may have gone back into running a bit too quickly. Slow down a bit and start with a 15 minute gentle warm up so that your body has time to adapt to your run. Then gradually increase the pace over a period of time.

Other things to try:
* Try running fasted especially if it is an early morning run.
* If you like to eat before heading out the door, try and eat at least two hours or more before your run and avoid a heavy meal. Keep the foods simple and easily digestible and see if you can identify trigger foods that make our stomach churn more. Common trigger foods are fat, dairy, legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts) and grains.
* Eat slowly so that you food is well chewed.
* Cut back on the caffeine as that can stimulate the gut.
* Relax and don't stress about your run. The more anxious you feel the more your adrenaline is increased. Think of the toilet queues just before a race!
* If you eat a snack on your run, aim to eat natural foods rather then gels or shop bought energy bars. Lactose and sugar substitues are often triggers.

I hope that helps as a starting point but really it is a case of working out what the triggers are. If it continues to be an issue and you can't solve it on your own, then it would be worth seeing your doctor to rule out any other underlying issue.

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