I hear this from my clients who are runners, and I hear it when I come out to talk to running groups about fueling. I hear it lined up at the start of races. I hear it so often, I can no longer keep my mouth shut on the issue. And the issue is poop. Or more specifically taking anti-diarrhea medication to prevent poop on the run.
Why do so many of us have GI issues during running? It's actually very natural. Exercise, and running in particular, stimulates the muscles in our GI tract, causing many of us to need to go shortly after beginning activity. That constant jostling is a real catalyst for some of us. And during longer runs, as we log more time on our feet, our circulatory system directs more blood to our legs and other muscles, and less to our digestive system, leading to diarrhea for some runners.
Stopping for an unplanned poop can make for a lousy run—all the lousier depending on just how unplanned it is, where you are when it hits and the weather. Taking Imodium or other anti-diarrhea medications seems like an easy choice if you're someone who regularly has to dash into wooded areas.
However, taking over-the-counter medication doesn’t address the root cause.
I've identified a myriad of habits that prevent or contribute to GI issues on the run, and I’ve seen those issues reduced and even completely eliminated for many. Common culprits include…
- Food and timing of of eating the day before a run
- Frequency and timing of alcohol
- Timing of fiber intake
- Artificial sweeteners
- What and when breakfast is eaten before a run
- The fuel, drinks and other supplements taken in on the run
…and other habits unique to each of us.
If you’re hooked on Imodium but haven’t addressed how your diet and habits could be causing the issue, please make an appointment for a consult with me.
A note: I speak on this topic from experience—a whole LOT of experience. Many of you know that I live with Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disease wherein my own immune system attacks my digestive tract and other parts of my body. I manage my disease very carefully, and I know all too well how simple changes to diet and habits can tremendously impact GI issues on my own runs, either to the positive or the negative.
Believe it or not, I look forward to talking about poop with you soon…