WARNING: Trotting to the toilet

Man was I ever feeling like crud the last few days, and I was debating whether or not to blog about it as it is a bit of a sensitive subject, but given that it’s a running-induced sensitive subject, blogging I shall do.

But first, I must warn all you non-runners, and all you with the squeamish little bellies, and all of you who are easily grossed out, stop reading now. If you continue, you are too blame. I take no fault for any accidental upchucking or cringe-induced wrinkles or nightmares that may result from what lies below.

This condition I am about to discuss is a condition that no runner likes to talk about, and likes even less to experience. Are you ready for it? Okay, here you go: Runner’s Diarrhea, also known as the trots, poopy pants, sore bum, and ohmygawd find me a toilet now, even a port-a-potty would do!

Yep, I happen to be one of the “lucky” 20 to 50 per cent of distance runners who suffer from such poopy torment. Oh joy.

I used to think I had a stomach of steel when it came to running. I’d hear all these stories about how people couldn’t eat before they ran, or how their gels couldn’t get them to the washrooms fast enough, or how even the smell of food would turn their stomachs. I’ve even seen pictures of runners who didn’t make it, if you know what I mean. But none of it ever seemed to phase me. I had no problem with gels,  electrolyte drinks,  granola bars, not even with a hearty oatmeal breakfast before a run. And because I’m not a runner who can go without eating like some, I was quite thankful to have no horror stories of my own. But it seems, the times, they are a changing.

For about a month now, I’ve been waking up the day of a long run with a knotted stomach, and have been forced to make a “pit stop” somewhere along the 45-minute drive to the Running Room … heaven forbid the stomach gods let me actually take care of it at home! And because of the knotted stomach (which by the way doesn’t go away after the pit stop) I’ve been feeling a bit queasy waiting for the runs to start. But after that, I’ve been pretty much good to go, no further problems, aside from a bit of cramping in the last two or three kilometres, so I just thought it was nervous belly. Nothing to be overly worried about right. Wrong.

This Sunday started out the same as the others, except about halfway through the run, nausea was added to the mix. And let me just say, when you’re required to suck down your second, thick, none-to-pleasant GU gel that already makes you want to hurl, add to that real nausea and yeah there was some regurgitation going on in my esophagus!

But because I made it back to the store I figured everything was okay. That is, until about 20 minutes into my drive home, when the gurgling, burbling and all-out volcanic eruption started waging a war in my belly. Oh no. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say that it couldn’t have been a worst time for a nonsensical traffic jam on the bridge. I spent the next 30 minutes clutching my stomach, squeezing my innards, gritting my teeth, spewing out a few F bombs, and even trying to telepathically move the traffic along.

When I finally got home, the elevator was on like the 7th floor and took forever to get down to the lobby. Why not take the stairs, you ask. Well, first off, I’m not sure the added motion would have been all that good, and second, after living here a year, I still have no clue how the stair system works – we’ve tried every key and none seem to unlock the doors. Thank goodness no one else was around; I was doubled over with one leg crossed over the other swaying my body back and forth trying to calm the evil going on inside me. Thankfully, and by god shockingly, I made it to the loo in time. Phew. Crisis averted.

Thank GOD this was not my outcome!


And because I’d prefer not to go through that again, especially given that my system has been majorly out of whack ever since (hence the feeling like crud) I’ve had my nose buried in sports nutrition books and websites that focus in on the ol’ trots business. But what I found was not exactly encouraging. Pretty much, I could be hooped.


  • The jarring up and down motion of running could be shaking up the bowels
  • The flow of blood to the intestines is being rerouted to your working muscles, which may trigger the cramping and/or diarrhea
  • Nerves
  • Dehydration


  • Avoid eating for at least 2 hours before exercise (nope, can’t do that!)
  • Avoid warm fluids as they can speed up the movement of wastes through the intestines (I froze my water bottles, but when you’re out for hours in the raging hot sun, they do tend to get warm)
  • Limit high fibre foods ie. fruit, veggies, whole grains (well there goes breakfast!)

The only things that I’ve really changed from when I was training for the halfs is my oatmeal and energy bars. Whereas before I was eating instant, reduced-sugar oatmeal, along with half a banana and a smoothie, I’m now chowing down on steel cut oats, yogurt, banana and smoothie. Back to the cheapo less filling oats it is. And I’ve also switched from Quaker granola bars to actual energy bars that have less ingredients but more fibre … hmm, seems the more healthy I try to be, the more I screw myself, or should I say, the more I poop!


  • BG before: 10.1 (had a Quaker granola bar an hour and a half before, BG was 7.1, didn’t bolus)
  • Temp basal -50 per cent (not sure what I was thinking, I probably should have only reduced it by 20 per cent)
  • Distance: About 5 km (I think)
  • Hills: 4 plus 1 warmup hill
  • Time: ??? I don’t know, I did something different with my Garmin and I screwed it up
  • BG after: 15.8 (proof of a bad basal rate)

Have you ever been sidelined by Runner’s Diarrhea? How did you get through it?

11 thoughts on “WARNING: Trotting to the toilet”

  1. Pete Schofield

    Yes, and might I say that I was never so thankful for the cornfields! I always run with a hydration pack that makes perfect storage for tissue, always an essential for those long runs

  2. Katie,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blogs but I must admit this one was the shits.

    All the best,


  3. Ok, that picture is gross, what about eating cheese or other foods that might not be so easy to digest?

  4. This entry is exactly why I say there are no secrets between runners…. They tend to lay it all out there.

  5. poor guy
    It’s probably more from what you eat, start eliminating and you will find out what’s doing this

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