Runners Tell All Linkup: Poop

4.21.2014

"Runner's Tell All" is a monthly linkup for runners of all ages, skill levels, and experience hosted by Sunshine to the Square Inch and The Lady Okie. Each month we'll have a different topic, and you can find all the topics listed here. We are accepting two sponsorship spots for each month, who will receive a sidebar ad on both blogs as well as entry links in the giveaway. 100% of your sponsorship money will go directly toward running-related giveaways. Find more information on sponsorship here. **May spots are filled. We're open for June!
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Before I jump in, I have to tell you something. I promise this is a real story.

When I told Jordan the topic of this month's Runners Tell All and how it was about a bad training run or race story and what I learned from it, he gives me a look and says, "Oh, so are you going to talk about poop?" Holy crap! (Pun intended.) I had just been about to say, "I'm going to write about poop." We are made for each other, you guys.

Okay, now onto my story.
So, yeah. Poop. 

If I had a dollar for every time I had to stop in the middle of my run to sprint to the nearest bathroom, I'd have enough money to buy my own personal Port-o-Potty. Which honestly probably needs to happen at some point. Let's just say that running and my bowels do not get along. This race sign pretty much sums it up perfectly.

The most terrible runs that stick out in my memory are, surprisingly, not the ones where I was dry heaving or the ones where I got cramps or the ones where my knees were hurting. No, my most dreaded nightmare of all runs are those where I feel the inescapable need to find a bathroom as soon as possible. It's pretty much the worst feeling ever. 

You can't run toward the bathroom, because that makes it worse. But you can't walk either, because that takes too long. So you're forced to wobble like a penguin while clenching your cheeks and rating nearby bushes using a scale of "is this big enough to squat behind so on one will see me?" I have problems.

All THAT to say, here is what it's taken me nearly four years of trial and error to learn: I should eat and drink as little as possible before running.

I read an issue of Runner's World once that said before a marathon you should eat, like, 3,000 calories or something ridiculous. Okay, it probably wasn't that much, but it was a crazy high number. I love RW, but no. I'm not a personal trainer or a running coach, so this is probably terrible advice, but I seriously eat barely anything before a run or race. I just can't handle it. Before my marathon, I think I ate a small bowl of oatmeal and maybe half a plain bagel with nothing on it.

Here's my point: In terms of fueling, you have to decide what's right for you. No one else can decide that for you. Just because someone else stuffs themselves doesn't mean you have to. Conversely, just because someone doesn't eat anything doesn't mean you shouldn't eat a lot. This is a process of trial and error.

If you're really having bathroom-related trouble on training runs or at a race, you might consider keeping a food log. Write down what you ate, when you ate it, and when your workout was. Then, after your run, ask yourself: How did you feel? Sluggish? Energized? Did you have to pee or poop in the middle of your run? Over time, you'll be able to see a pattern and know what kinds of things to avoid so you can train and race your best.

I still have issues every now and again, and before a race I usually have to poop like five or six times (it's the nerves!), but it's gotten much better than it used to be. Thank goodness.

So that's my advice! I hope it helps. If nothing else, you probably learned something you didn't know about me and my bathroom habits. You're welcome.
And if you have ANY questions about this topic, feel free to ask. Don't be shy!
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NEXT MONTH'S TOPIC
(Wednesday, May 21)
Share a running picture. It can be from a training run or race.
Just show us a picture of you running and tell us about it! This should be fun.
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Runners Tell All Linkup Rules


  1. You MUST leave a comment on the person’s blog who linked up directly before you. This is not a linkup for the sake of linking up. This is a linkup to build community and spread the love and encouragement to your fellow runners! Don't be lame.
  2. Only link up posts related to our running prompt. Do not share links to unrelated running posts or to your blog’s homepage, or we will have to delete your link. (I've done it before too, so I'm not joking.)
  3. Please link back to either Beka or Amanda in your post so others can come here and join in! Or grab the button below and add it to your post.

37 comments:

  1. I usually don't eat or drink before a run for this very reason. ;)

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  2. And this is another good reason why I don't run....Angel's told me some stories that really make me cringe...

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  3. haha my sister preaches about the importance of the PRP: the pre race poop! there weren't enough portapotties at my half last September and a friend of mine didn't want to wait in line, so she wasn't surprised when she needed to pee after about 8 miles. luckily, at that point we were running through an unfinished housing development... and she ducked into a model home to use their bathroom!

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  4. my bladder is so horrible i seriously can barely make it a mile without having to pee!!! i don't see how people run so many miles without going!!!

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  5. oh lordy, this made me laugh and cringe because I am the exact same. I did a half on the weekend and normally never have to stop during (before and after, yes) but there was absolutely no continuing - I needed to stop. I had to line up for 10 minutes and the whole ordeal probably took 15 minutes off my time, but whatever. gotta do what you gotta do!

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  6. I'm dreading the pre-race poops for my half. That always happens where my nerves are concerned...first day of school, first day of new job...I went like 8 times the morning I was to meet with my first ever running partner a few weeks ago. Luckily, my gut usually cools out after I start running. However, I noticed on my long running days I always end up with stomach cramps after. Needless to say, I've got some Pepto packed for the upcoming race! p.s. your comment about sizing up bushes=Laughing out loud!

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  7. I am so glad that I have never had this issue on a race day! My dad suffers from this problem and he brings toilet paper on his runs. Ha! I, on the other hand, freak out race morning and have a hard time eating breakfast. This has resulted in dizziness during runs. Not fun---but better than multiple porta potty visits!

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  8. This is my biggest fear too! I used to never drink coffee before a run because I was so afraid of it, but now I'm the opposite. A morning run requires coffee to...you know...get everything out of my system haha! But sometimes it doesn't make me poop and then I spend the whole run or race worrying that my clever little plan is going to backfire!

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  9. BIGGEST FEAR EVER. Michael stayed with my the night before my half marathon, and that morning, he probably thought I was NUTS. I went to the bathroom every two minutes because I just kept thinking, "Maybe something else has been digested. I should proooobably try again. Cause what happens when I get to the race? Ok, let's try again."

    It's always comforting to hear that others share my fear. ;)

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  10. I barely eat anything before I run, too! Mostly I'm nervous and don't have an appetite, but I get sick if there's anything in my stomach... AND there's the other problem you talked about. So, banana w/ peanut butter and I'm ready to go!

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  11. Ahhh! I could have written this myself! Actually, I did write about my very similar experience. Eating and fueling properly is still a learning experience for me, but I'm getting much better at it. Thanks for hosting the link up!

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  12. hahaha!!!! Oh my gosh- the beginning of your post is hilarious!! Soul mates for sure!! ;) I just started running again... and when I say "running" - I'm talkin' on a treadmill while I watch Maury. One of these days I'm going to step it up a bit and I'll remember - eat light.

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  13. oh I hate runners poop! For my first 1/2 marathon this kind lady randomly decided to run with me the whole race and help me finish. I told her I felt like I was getting the big "D" cramps and she told me to just ignore it and that it would go away. Well, it did not go away and I made a mad dash for the next porter potty. It was not pretty. I too have similar issues and I'm not sure what the exact solution is. I will tell you that I read somewhere that you shouldn't eat gu (or anything similar) and drink gatorade. They said it was too much for your spleen to handle at once and then you get diarrhea. I tried only eating GU and then drinking water and it really helped me during races.

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    1. I think that's because of the sugars in both GU and Gatorade. Not 100% sure, but I think I remember reading that somewhere.

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  14. So I can't say that I've ever had to RUN to a bathroom on a run, I do have serious GI upset when I'm out there and of course, some runs are worse than others...if somebody ever finds a product that can prevent that, they stand to make a TON of money!!!

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  15. This is great advice! I've learned it the hard way a time or two myself. NOT fun!! Thanks for sharing :)

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  16. This is one of the reasons why I fear long distance running. :)

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  17. Thankfully this has never happened to me during a race but I've definitely had that right after a run. It just gets your body flowing I guess..

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  18. Seriously. Having to poop during a run is the. worst. I wake up a little earlier on run mornings just so I can have enough to poop.

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  19. thanks for the advice, I really hate having to pee/poop while running

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  20. Boy do I have a story to tell! I love this link up!

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  21. Having to poop while running is my biggest fear. No joke though when doing a triathlon I totally puked in the water. i can't handle food before a race either. I have to eat at least 3 hours before and it has to be really light.

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  22. I'm doing my first 10k in June and this is my biggest fear. I've been debating not eating before the run but it's such a no-no that I wasn't sure if I should. Thanks for sharing this.

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  23. I haven't had that issue *yet*, but it's coming. I always have bad stomach cramps for a while after my long runs. I do have to pee a lot when I run and will admit I've peed on myself (just a little) more than once. I ran my first half marathon this weekend and I was NOT stopping to use that porta potty!!

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  24. LOLOLOL! I've never actually had this problem during an actual race, but I don't know what I was doing more of when I was reading this post - laughing or nodding. It's soooo true... the worse it is, the less you can RUN. Otherwise, it just jogs things along...I've TOTALLY had that moment. I'm trying to run to get home, but then it's all...oh no. Bad decision. Walk. Walk. But it's COMING! The penguin waddle TOTALLY fits the bill!!!! LOLOLOL...it might also resemble that scene in the movie Bridesmaids where the bride was like, "it's happening, it's happening..." *wince*

    My friend is so scared of this exact phenomenon, she actually pops Immodium the night before races.

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  25. Totally hoped to have a post for this, but thanks to traveling to Korea and having a horrific week of work upon my return, I've successfully blown off running for two weeks. Oh, and totally blew off the race I was supposed to run on Sunday to go stuff myself at an Easter buffet. Now that I'm trying to get back in the groove, I'm totally paying for it!! Lesson learned: if you don't want to keep having to start from square one, don't give up in the first place!

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  26. This is the story of my life. I have finally learned what I can and can not eat before I run, oh and pop at least 2 imodiums before I head out the door. I've had some really, really bad experiences. Recently I bolted into an Aveda salon at 9:30am like a bat out of hell and they looked at me like I was nuts but they were the only place open!

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  27. GIRL. I feel you. LOL. And I have TOTALLY been there too. It is the WORST!

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  28. Ok so here is what I'm wondering now. If you are in the middle of a marathon and just have to go and the line for the bathroom is 30 minutes long, does that count toward your race time? I know that probably sounds really silly but I would hate to stop and then get a really bad time all because I needed to use the bathroom! I guess there is probably no way a race official would know that but man...

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  29. I never ever have to go during a race. About an hour or 2 after a long run is when it hits me. I also run terribly if I don't have enough food to fuel off of. I do eat a lot before, I feel horrible and weak of I don't! Our bodies are opposite!

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  30. Hahahaha. I know exactly what you're talking about with the morning nervous poops and the post race poops. They are the worst. During my half ironman I made note of every single potty and made sure to stop even if I didn't need to because I didn't want to be stuck where there wasn't one. Not many trees in Galveston so that would have sucked.

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  31. woohooo as a runner back in training I really appreciate this link up! I must say my worst nightmare has been my plantar fasciitis which has had me sidelined for almost a year...i'm back at it now, slowly but with the Miami Half Marathon in mind for the winter!

    oh...yeah...poop...I ahem...had too much goo during my first half...and the porta potty I chose did not have enough TP...so I had to improvise with items that are no longer in my possession.
    ew...i know

    Andiepants

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  32. Ya know what, poop or anything else, it can be difficult to accept that our body needs something different than whatever is "normal." With food especially, everyone just runs better on different stuff (and different schedules). I had basically the same issue at every single regatta in high school and before our 8k!

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  33. As I get more into running, I should probably think more about how to carry proper id and important things with me as I'm not a local here.

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  34. So. When I began running my only two goals were - 1. To not poop on myself and 2. Not be dead last.

    Well, I've actually been dead last, so now my only goal is to not poop myself. But man, those pre-race jitters have me racing to the bathroom every time. I actually always feel really bad for those who have to clean up the porta-potties at race events. You know that shit is bad. Ha. Ha. Ha.

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  35. I love how honest you are on your blog! I too almost always go out for my runs on an empty stomach and just a few sips of water beforehand. Cramps are killer and I just feel sluggish if I have anything sitting in my stomach!

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  36. I don't often get the chance to refer people to blog posts about poop, so I was super delighted when my friend confessed today that she was scared that she would actually poop herself during an upcoming half marathon (her first race, I think). Immediately the lightbulb went off and I said, "I have a blog post for you!" ;)

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