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Apparently it’s “Poop Week” at RunOregon, and Kelly has asked me to write about famous pooping mishaps in the world of running. Yes, I’m blaming her if you lose your breakfast, ’cause this was totally her idea! 😉
Back when The Edge was still relevant (OK, it was never relevant, but at least it used to be blue and on the front page of the Living section), I used to get more satisfaction out of winning one of their contests than I did winning a local road race. For one such contest I won a brand new copy of the classic children’s book “Everybody Poops”. Seriously, is there a more profound title than that?
It’s absolutely true, everybody poops. Well except for Winnie the Poop, the constipated bear. Yes, I made that up, but if anybody wants to take that character and run with it go right ahead. No, really, everybody poops, even famous athletes like Stan (The Bran) Musial and royalty like Richard The Turd, who held the throne longer than any other English monarch before or since.
OK, seriously, nature calls for everyone, from the most glamorous Hollywood star to the bravest war hero to the fastest runners on the planet. So herewith is a compendium of the most famous running related poop stories, all true except for one I made up. Can you determine which stories are the real poop and which anecdote is total crap?
Uta Pippig, 1996 Boston Marathon: The great German runner won her third consecutive Boston Marathon, overhauling Kenyan Tegla Loroupe in the final strides, and overcoming the extreme discomfort of menstrual cramps and diarrhea to finish in 2:27:13. “I had some problems with my period,” reported Pippig. “I didn’t expect it would become this worse… diarrhea. I felt not nice so I used a lot of water around me so that I look better and also for my legs that I could clean up a bit.”
One of the best-loved Boston champions, Pippig took the indignities and pain in stride, persevered, and maintained her upbeat attitude: “After four miles, I was thinking several times to drop out because it hurt so much. But in the end, I won.”
And rather than shrinking with embarrassment, Pippig credited the support from the crowd for her victory: “It was like the whole city was on its legs, and I want to thank every person on the course today.”
Tegla Loroupe, 1998 New York City Marathon: Ironically, Pippig’s Boston rival from two years prior was forced to endure her own battle with diarrhea as she raced through the five boroughs of New York. Having won in New York in ’94 and ’95, Loroupe was hoping to ascend the podium once more in ’98, but instead struggled valiantly to a third place finish in 2:30:28, far off her recent world record time of 2:20:47.
“At least I finished,” said Loroupe, who had considered dropping out at various times during the race. “For that I’m happy.”
Rosie Ruiz, 1979 New York City Marathon: Ruiz’s story is well known. Perhaps the most famous cheat in sporting history, she was the first female runner across the line at the 1980 Boston Marathon. However, it was soon discovered that she had, to put it politely, “not run the entire distance.” Furthermore, additional investigation revealed that she had ridden the subway for a substantial portion of the 1979 New York City Marathon, which had served as her Boston qualifier.
Less well known is how an irritable bowel led her astray, and that she had not entered the New York Marathon with the intention of taking a shortcut via mass transit at all. “As I approached the start that morning, I
had to go,” recalls Ruiz. “The lines at the port-a-potties were three blocks long, and not only that, but the stench was unbearable! I realized my only hope of finding a clean, vacant, and fresh-smelling toilet was in the New York City subway system.”
While luxuriating in the swank subway restroom, Ruiz missed the start, and in a panic hopped a train to within blocks of the finish where she rejoined the field, and the rest is history.
Richard Nerurkar, 1996 Olympic Marathon: The British runner was holding onto 3rd place at the Men’s Marathon at the Atlanta Olympics when nature called, and a potty break cost him two spots. Nerurkar’s pit stop was remarkably brief, and he went on to a highly respectable 5th place finish.
Nadezhda Ilyina, 1997 Los Angeles Marathon: She was the first woman to cross the line, but the Russian runner’s desperate pit stop at a 7-11 restroom resulted in a 30-meter shorting of the course, leading to her subsequent disqualification. She had been on the lookout for a bathroom from the third mile and finally found relief at mile 23, but despite the lost time, the small, apparently inadvertent shortcut cost her the win.
Steve Jones, 1985 London Marathon: Some anecdotal reports suggest the great British runner was suffering from some internal and external distress during his course-record setting effort through the streets of London, resulting in the runner-up’s refusal to shake his hand at the finish.
Brendan Foster, 1976 Olympic 10,000 Meters: Not all poop crises occur during marathons (though the vast majority do). At the Montreal Olympics, Foster overcame a “third wind” to capture bronze on the track in the 10k. Apparently, he was afraid his kick might do more than increase his pace, but he held it together well enough to bring home Great Britain’s only medal of the 1976 Games.
Finally, the great Norwegian champion Grete Waitz suffered famously from diarrhea at both the London and New York City Marathons, but overcame it to win both races. In her book “Run Your First Marathon”, she describes the problem:
So perhaps the moral of these stories is if you find yourself near the lead, keep going… even if you’re going; and even if you’ve got the runs, keep running. Unless, of course, you’re
A mystery woman in Colorado Springs, Colo. is giving runners a pretty crappy reputation. According to local CBS affiliate KKTV, this runner has been defecating outside the house of resident Cathy Budde for the past seven weeks. Even worse—her children first spotted the woman.
Budde and her family have caught the runner at least three times. However, this has not stopped this mystery runner. She continues to leave waste behind at least once a week. The woman has gone so far as to change her running schedule to avoid prying eyes. The community has nicked named her “The Mad Pooper.”
RELATED: Porta-Potty Etiquette For Runners
Budde thinks the act is intentional, even if she is unsure who the woman is.
“I put a sign on the wall that’s like ‘please, I’m begging you, please stop.’ … She ran by it like 15 times yesterday, and she still pooped,” Budde told KKTV.
The family turned to the police and the media in an effort to identify the woman. After Budde started sharing her frustration, other neighborhood residents came forward, saying the runner has relieved herself in their backyard and a local Walgreen’s parking lot. If caught, the runner faces charges of indecent exposure and public defecation.
The most baffling aspect of this woman’s behavior is that there are public restrooms available in the area. Budde identified a local park and a gas station nearby, among others.
“There’s plenty of public restrooms less than a block away from where she’s targeting,” Budde shared with KKTV. “This is intentional.”
RELATED: Why Do I Have To Poop When I Run?
- The 6 Grossest Things About Running
- 1) Runner’s Trots
- 2) Snotty Nose
- 6 Ways Your Workout Can Change Your Poop
- 20 Unfortunate but Unavoidable Side Effects of Working Out
- Lessons From The Poo Bandit (On A School Track In New Jersey)
- So What Do You Do When You Have To Poo
- Why Does Running Make You Poop?
- When Sh*t Hits the Fan: What to Do if You Have to Poop on a Run
- How is This a Thing?
- Please Tell Me There’s a Way to Avoid It!
- If All Else Fails…
- Overactive Bladder
- What Causes An Overactive Bladder?
- Approaching Your GP
- Patient Stories
- Further Information
The 6 Grossest Things About Running
WARNING: The following article is gross, gross, gross. Not for those with weak stomachs. Proceed at your own risk.
I was watching 16 and Pregnant the other day and had to laugh when this week’s mom-to-be said her biggest concern in labor was “pooping at delivery.”
Throughout my first pregnancy, even though I was a decade older than her, that was also my main concern. People told me again and again not to worry, that I would not be worried about such things when I was pushing my baby out without so much as a Tylenol to dilute the pain.
But guess what? They were wrong. I drank prune juice for weeks before the birth to make sure I was “all cleaned out.” The night my water broke, I took three shots of it and refused to go to the hospital until I was “done.”
Three pushes in, my baby’s softball-sized head was burning like a tiki torch between my legs and yet I was screaming: “Oh my god, please don’t let me poop. Honey did I poop? Please tell me if I pooped!”
For the record: I did not.
But I believe this illustrates the kind of woman I am. Yes, I am girly (or as I call it, hygienic) in the extreme. I have a weak stomach when it comes to smells. I like to take showers, apply perfume to my wrists, rub scented lotion all over my body and generally keep all bodily fluids on the inside, and when that’s impossible, I like extreme privacy. Generally, if you puke in front of me, you can assume that I will follow suit. I dry heave at the mere mention of the word snot.
As a marathon runner, all that has changed. And yesterday, as I ran the final mile of my 8-mile scale-back run in the driving rain with a near-steady stream of snot dropping from my nose, it occurred to me just why: Because gross things happen when you run.
To name a few:
1) Runner’s Trots
I remember after my first 5K, wondering why my stomach was cramping. And then it got worse. And worse. Needless to say, I had to take the next day off from work because, well, let’s just say, I spared work some yuckiness that day. That day, I had no idea that an intense burst of effort like the one that sustained my first 5K (23:19, baby!) could also divert blood away from the stomach, causing the cramping and pain we know as “runner’s trots.” Even now, half a decade later, I am still sometimes a victim of this. I can titrate my fluid intake and eat certain meals and keep an even pace and I might still end up with them. At least now, I know what to do for them and I have never had them as bad as that first time.
2) Snotty Nose
The other day, I was reading an article in one of my many running magazines that basically said the “snot rocket” was the single most important life skill for a runner. I am not sure I would go that far, but my unwillingness to blow a load of snot out of my nose while moving quickly has cost me quite a bit of discomfort as I sniffle, wish I had remembered a tissue and envy those less easily-queasied who can blow a slimy rocket of snot without wanting to hurl.
6 Ways Your Workout Can Change Your Poop
You’re 45 minutes into barre class when it hits you, suddenly and without warning: the urge to go. Your stomach just gurgled so loudly, you’re certain the woman plié-ing to your left heard it too. You glance at the clock on the studio wall, and try to gauge whether you can make it till the end of the hour.
If this scenario sounds familiar, you should know you’re not alone: Nobody wants to discuss their exercise-induced bowel movements, “but it’s a common problem and worthy of being brought out of the closet … or out of the bathroom,” says Nancy Clark, RD, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.
Clark has had clients ask her, “Am I the only person who carries toilet paper with me on a run?” The answer is definitely not. Lots of fit folks experience gastrointestinal issues mid- or post-workout, she says, ranging from loose stools to constipation. And for some people, physical activity can actually have a positive impact, helping to alleviate digestive woes. Here are six ways breaking a sweat can affect your system.
Your intestines get jostled a bit
The more you move, the more your intestines move. “Movement will affect digestion because it will help move food contents, gas, and stool along the digestive tract,” says gastroenterologist Sophie Balzora, MD, assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health. As a result, you may feel a sudden need to go. This is actually why many doctors recommend exercise to people who are chronically constipated, Dr. Balzora adds.
Any type of activity can get things moving, but running is a well-known culprit: “Runners are more likely to complain about intestinal problems than, say, cyclists, who stay more steady,” Clark says.
RELATED: How to Make Yourself Poop Before a Run
Your blood flow changes
When you exercise, “your body will divert blood to the muscles that are doing most of the hard work,” says Dr. Balzora. Your digestive system is a lower priority, and that can lead to diarrhea—aka runner’s trots.
This problem is more common among newbie runners, says Clark. Increasing your mileage too quickly can do a number on your digestive system. To spare yourself emergency trips to the toilet, follow the standard advice to ramp up by about 10% each week. “Sometimes it’s about training the intestinal tract to get used to a longer distance,” she says.
If your symptoms persist though, it may be worth seeing a doctor. Your workouts could be aggravating an underlying condition like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.
RELATED: 5 Ways to Make Every Poop a Great One
You may get dehydrated
When your workout leaves you drenched in sweat, make sure you drink enough to rehydrate—or you could end up with a bout of constipation (as well as a slew of other health woes). If you get backed up, try drinking more water throughout the day, Clark says. You’ll know you’re hydrated when you need to pee every two to four hours, and your urine is light yellow in color.
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Your pre-workout snack might screw with your digestion
Fiber is generally good for your system, but eating too much of it right before you exercise can lead to gas, cramping, or the urge to poop—stat, says Dr. Balzora.
It may take some experimentation to figure out which foods work best for you (and your bowels) before a workout, says Clark. “Some people have cast-iron stomachs—they could have a can of baked beans and go for a run and everything is fine! Other people would say no to baked beans for two or three days before.” Safer choices include bananas, granola bars, oatmeal, or toast with peanut butter, Clark says.
And if you rely on sports gels or chews to power through a long run or ride, check the ingredients. Artificial additives and sugar substitutes can also lead to loose stools, says Dr. Balzora.
RELATED: What to Eat Before and After Every Kind of Workout
Yoga may soothe your system
Like running and other types of exercise, yoga can stimulate BMs, says Dr. Balzora, especially if you’re constipated. But the effect might not be entirely due to bending and twisting your body. “We know the brain-gut connection is quite strong, and anxiety and stress can cause us to have abdominal pain or discomfort and irregular stools,” she explains. By lowering your stress level, yoga may also help soothe your digestive woes too.
What’s more, practicing yoga may strengthen some of the pelvic floor muscles that keep things moving through the GI tract, says Marc Sonenshine, MD, a spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association.
RELATED: 14 Yoga Poses for Digestion
Regular exercise can help keep you regular
Sedentary folks are more likely to find themselves backed up, says Dr. Balzora. And although a lack of physical activity is likely just one of several factors that cause that constipation, getting consistent exercise can’t hurt. “Becoming more active on a regular basis can help regulate the bowels,” she explains.
Healthy habits in general are probably good for your bathroom habits too, says Dr. Sonenshine. “A healthy lifestyle makes for a healthy colon.”
So we already know that exercise is good for you for about a million reasons—it can boost brainpower, make us look and feel good, and alleviate stress, just to name a few. But it’s not always rainbows and butterflies after hitting the gym: Dealing with stink, sweat, and aches and pains can be tough. While there’s likely no way to stop the unfortunate side effects of working out (besides becoming a couch potato), we’re here to recognize each and every downside, plus offer up some solutions and know-how for when unforeseen consequences strike.
1. You often wake up when it’s still dark out.
No one enjoys an alarm sounding at the a$$ crack of dawn, but facing a morning sweat sesh may make the prospect of peeling the covers back even more miserable. On the bright side, research suggests it’s sometimes easier to stick with a morning workout routine, so that’s all the more reason to get your tush out of bed. Become an a.m. athlete with these science-backed tips.
- In just a few easy steps, you too can become a morning person.
- Sleep better at night with these 32 solutions.
- Learn to love morning workouts.
2. You need to pay attention to (and interact with) bad weather.
You’ve got one designated hour to get sweaty, but unfortunately the sky decided to break a sweat at the very same time. Whether it’s raining, snowing, sleeting, or just too darn hot (or cold) to imagine being outdoors, there are still viable options to stay active. The good news is that exercising in cold and hot temps is generally quite safe as long as you take proper precautions.
- Before heading out in the cold, follow this chilly weather checklist.
- If it’s too wet, cold, or hot out, try out one of these treadmill workouts.
- Give our 30-minute, no-gym bodyweight workout a go on super-wet days.
- Beat the heat and stay active in the summer with these tips.
- After a steamy weather workout, whip up one of these hydrating recipes.
3. Your phone gets sweat in, on, and around it.
Like many runners, I can’t jog four feet without coming down with a bad case of really sweaty palms (like, really sweaty). While it’s obvious that sweat and electronics don’t mix, who has time (and money) to rig up a waterproof armband every time they want to work out? Try these strategies to keep your technology clean and dry.
- Check out these tips to repair wet tech.
- Here’s how to clean an iPhone (because they can get seriously germy).
4. You need to go back to work looking like a grease ball and smelling like a Hunger Games contestant.
Squeezing in a run or a Pilates class during your lunch break is an admirable feat, until you realize you smell like feet upon return to the office. When there’s no time to shower, try one of these time-honored ways to fake it and stave off sweat-induced jock itch (ick).
- Remove makeup before working out (then apply just the basics afterward).
- Turn to cleansing wipes, baby powder, and dry shampoo to soak up extra moisture.
- Change out of sweaty clothes ASAP. Wet clothes are stinky clothes.
5. You blaze through deodorant because you sweat like sinner in church.
Pit stains may be unappealing, but sweating is actually really great for us. Dripping sweat promotes detoxification through the skin and also helps cool us downArsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat: a systematic review. Sears, M.E., Kerr, K.J., Bray, R.I. Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada. Journal of environmental and public health. 2012;2012;18745.. Accept your sweatiness by acknowledging that, after all, B.O. is only natural.
- Learn about what’s in a stick of antiperspirant.
- If B.O. is your main worry, take solace in the fact that everyone has body odor, and the way we smell is largely based on genetic factorsBody odour of monozygotic human twins: a common pattern of odorant carboxylic acids released by a bacterial aminoacylase from axilla secretions contributing to an inherited body odour type. Kuhn, F., Natsch, A. Analytical Chemistry, Duebendorf, Switzerland. Journal of the Royal Society 2009;6:377-92..
6. Your hair feels like a matted, sweaty rat’s nest.
There’s nothing worse after a workout than sporting a ‘do that resembles the Hunchback of Notre Dame. To get rid of the dreaded ponytail hair bump—and avoid a super sweaty hairline (dudes, we’re talking to you too)—it’s best to prevent it in the first place.
- Use gentle ribbon hair ties (or make your own) instead of crease-causing hair elastics.
- Bring back the sweatband and pull it high and let it dry.
- Sport double French braids for a wavy post-workout ‘do.
- If the damage is done, spritz the crease with a little water and blow-dry it straight.
7. Your hair also looks like straw and your skin feels like sandpaper from so much showering.
Sexy, right? Washing off all that sweat is the logical conclusion to most workouts. But extra time under the H20 means soap and water will remove protective oils that the skin naturally produces. Turn to the pantry for some frugal fixes.
- If you can get away with just rinsing hair (rather than shampooing every day or even twice a day), it will help maintain hair’s natural oils.
- Moisturize dried-out skin and hair with homemade hydrating masks.
- Combat winter winds and dry air with these tips and tricks.
- Take care of your skin from the inside out with these 27 super-meals.
8. Your feet look disgusting.
Hitting the track, trails, or pavement day after day can do a number on those tootsies. Runner’s toe, a nasty-looking condition accompanied by pain and bloody or bruised toes, can lead to infection and get in the way of a workout routine. Busted feet aren’t limited to runners either; everyone from tennis players to skiers and dancers can experience painful and unsightly feet. Abide by these tips before you have to say, “R.I.P., big toenail.”
- Pick the right athletic socks to help prevent injuries, improve performance, and keep feet nice and dry.
- Act like Goldilocks at the shoe store and make sure those sneaks fit just right. If shoes are too tight, constant pressure can irritate the toenail. On the other hand, too-loose footwear means the feet continually bang into the shoe (ouch).
- This tip may sound silly, but cut your toenails! Keeping those nails trimmed assures they won’t get in the way and contribute to unnecessary injury.
9. Your favorite sneaks smell like a frat party.
We’ve talked about the biology of body odor and it ain’t pretty. Since it’s impractical to run sneakers through the wash after every use, read on to see what you can do about stinky footwear.
- Keep feet dry and wear clean socks. Sweat harbors stinky bacteria, which can absorb into your sneakers.
- Toss dry tea bags in smelly running shoes when not in use. The tea bags will help neutralize the stink.
- Leave newspaper, baking soda, or baby powder in shoes overnight to help absorb that post-workout funk.
10. You’ve got to shave your legs and pits more often. (Disregard if you are all for body hair.)
Skipping arms day because you forgot to shave your pits can be pretty frustrating. Unless you’re planning to take a rest day and let muscles heal, try these tips to avoid a hair-raising gym session.
- Plan ahead to skirt around an embarrassing crescent pose. Shave the day of or day before an arm workout or a group class that usually requires raising the arms.
- Wear thin pants or capris to hide furry legs.
- Embrace the #YOLO. Other gym-goers are likely more interested in their own workouts (and checking themselves out in the mirror) than noticing a Teen Wolf wannabe pumping out shoulder presses.
11. You chafe in unfortunate places.
Ouuuuch. When sweat and fabric rub against the skin while running or switching from move to move in a fitness class, it can cause painful irritation and rashes known affectionately as chafing. Without the proper gear, there’s no escaping the fire of chafing in some of your most sensitive spots (i.e. thighs and nipples).
- Reduce thigh chafing by wearing longer running shorts, capris, or pants to avoid skin-on-skin contact.
- If pants aren’t your thing, try out products like BodyGlide to reduce some of that friction.
12. You regularly become a stink ball that no one wants to sit next to on the bus.
Empty seats all around you on a crowded bus or train? We’ve all been there. The beet-red face, huffing and puffing, overall dampness, and locker room stink hardly help you make a good first impression on public transportation. Shake it off and take pride in those pit stains.
- Be proud of your sweat—it means you’re totally jacked! Some studies have found that those who are in-shape sweat more than people who are physically unfit.
- Toss some wet wipes or a small towel in your gym bag to dab away the stink before hopping on a bus or subway.
13. You have a lot of sh!t to carry around.
Forget important documents—your work bag is weighed down with sneakers, sports socks, clothes, and gym locks. Adding toiletries and other goodies, like a cumbersome yoga mat or shower shoes, means you’ll probably have to invest in a gym bag to tote your extra stuff around. Pack that bag in a smart and efficient way before heading out the door.
- Learn how to carry your stuff safely by keeping your bag close to the body, using two straps, and stashing the heaviest things at the bottom.
- Whittle your bag down to just the essentials. Travel-size deodorant and an extra pair of undies won’t take up that much space.
14. Speaking of sh!t, you have to go. All. The. Time.
Ever felt the urge to go number two during a cat-cow pose? You’re not alone: Regular exercise can make us more regular, and going an average of once a day is perfectly healthy. And hey, everyone poops, so you might as well learn everything you can about the whole process.
- Take a minute to sift through everything you want to know but haven’t asked about going number two.
- Suppressing a poo can actually create bowel issues, so it’s okay to excuse yourself from Zumba class to set it freeThe relation between irregular bowel movement and the lifestyle of working women. Kunimoto, M., Nishi, M., Sasaki, K. Colo-proctological Clinic, Kunimoto Hospital, Asahikawa, Japan. Hepatogastroenterology, 1998 Jul-Aug;45(22):956-60..
15. You need to replace your sneakers all the time.
Depending on how a runner strikes the ground (and how much he or she weighs), sneakers can take a beating. Anywhere between 300-500 miles after the first wear, the foam in sneakers (designed to absorb impact) loses its effectiveness, which can lead to injury. Unfortunately, replacing sneaks every few months can put quite a dent in your wallet. Luckily, we’ve got the deets on sneaker longevity.
- Check out our guide for when to replace running shoes.
- If you’re more likely to hang out by the weight racks than the treadmill, read this to see if your current kicks make the cut.
16. Your other shoes feel like torture devices.
Stiff leather boots? Heels? Oh, hell no. Logging an hour per day in sneakers makes grandpa’s orthotics look much more appealing than trendy kicks. In addition to being uncomfy, skyscraper heels have some unpleasant implications when worn repeatedly, such as bunions (pretty!), pinched nerves (feels great!), flat feet (fabulous!), and inflammation (sexy!).
- Our feet are not made for wearing heels. It’s science. Tell your friends that next time you go to the club in Uggs.
- Even Louboutin-wearing fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker has sworn off heels for good (unless they’re really, really nice).
- When you do wear hellish heels, make things easier on yourself by breaking them in. Don’t forget to bring a couple Band-Aids and some flats for later.
17. You need to do laundry more often.
Unless you’re an avid fan of naked yoga, it’s an undeniable fact that the laundry pile grows with each and every workout. From wearing multiple pairs of undies in one day (God forbid you wear sweaty britches all day), to layering up for an outdoor workout, some weeks feel like they require a full bottle of laundry detergent. These easy tips will keep your clothes fresher, longer.
- Look on the bright side: Doing laundry counts as fitness.
- Let your clothes dry out. Hanging up clothes to air them out (rather than letting them fester in a plastic bag) means you can re-wear certain garments like running shorts or a sports bra.
- Soak extra stinky stuff in one part vinegar to four parts hot water to help disinfect.
18. You’re all sorts of hungry.
If you’ve ever emptied the fridge after an intense gym session, you know all about exercise-induced hunger pangs. Since exercise burns calories, working up a sweat can make us pretty hungry afterward. Unfortunately, many of us don’t refuel properly (chips and Diet Coke don’t count) after a workout. Thankfully, there are tasty, easy solutions for that rumbling tummy!
- Check out these post-workout snack ideas.
- Sip some low-fat chocolate milk after a gym sesh.
- Nosh on a portable high-protein snack, like any of these Greek yogurt recipes, after a workout to tide you over ‘til lunch or dinner.
19. Some days, you walk like a sleepy penguin ‘cause your muscles hurt.
While exercising generally does the body good, muscle soreness after a hard workout is uncomfortable. Sore muscles are a normal—but annoying—side effect of the muscle rebuilding process. The good news is, when torn muscle fibers rebuild they become stronger, and there are plenty of ways to relieve the aches and pains. Boo yah!
- Find out why our muscles get sore after exercise here.
- When muscles are particularly tender, it may be a good idea to dial down subsequent workouts to give the body a little rest and speed healing.
- For some gym buffs, icing sore muscles may be just the ticket. The cold helps numb pain as well as narrow blood vessels, which helps limit the amount of swelling.
- If you’d rather pass on the chilly temps, head to the masseuse or try out some self-myofascial release with a foam roller to ease fatigued muscles.
20. You can’t even drown your stinky sorrows in sweet lullabies because your headphones shorted out.
Over time, drenching headphones in stinky sweat can leave them rather ineffective. While it’s important to keep them clean and dry, it’s also not a bad idea to give your ears a break every once in a while to protect hearing and keep those buds clean.
- Using water on electronics can be tricky, so read up on how to clean off germy earbud sweat here.
- Try working out sans music every once in a while. Wedging in a set of earbuds while running outdoors can be a dangerous distraction, plus listening too loud can lead to hearing impairment.
- Invest in a pair of wireless, sweat-resistant headphones, like these.
Have you ever had the urge to poop during or after exercise? It hits your abdomen like a ton of bricks as your intestines begin to feel heavy.
You hustle to the toilet and make it in the nick-of-time, where you proceed to unload your waste into the commode. Ah, what a relief.
If you’re getting back into shape the timing might be obvious. Every time you begin exercising you feel it, or it appears after you’ve finished a hard workout.
Much like Pavlov’s dog, you train yourself to visit the porcelain throne before or after the workout. If your workouts have been consistent over the years, you might not even notice your pooping habits. It might be your “normal”.
Lessons From The Poo Bandit (On A School Track In New Jersey)
Recently, a poo story made national headlines. It covered the mystery of the Holmdel High School (New Jersey) poo person who left a steamy gift each morning beside the school’s track.
Each day, the football coaches would come across the scat, which appeared to come from a large animal.
The football coaches became fed up with the daily occurrence and eventually reached out to the local authorities. From there, the news broke and a sting operation netted the culprit (allegedly the school district superintendent).
It was an odd story, but it highlights a problem that so many people face each day while training: the urge to poop mid-run.
What happens to the many people who have to go while on the track or at the gym? What about those in a marathon or road race?
In serious races, it’s not uncommon to see runners defecate while running (yes, there are photos if you search for them). It’s a bit gross but when you’re trying to get a new personal best time, the toilet will have to wait.
Those training at a gym or running at a school track will usually have a toilet they can use, but they will have to take a short break from exercising to use it.
According to the journal Sports Medicine, 30-50% of athletes experience gastrointestinal complaints that impair performance. The article goes on to share,
“Three main causes of gastrointestinal symptoms have been identified, and these are either physiological, mechanical, or nutritional in nature. During intense exercise, and especially when hypohydrated, mesenteric blood flow is reduced; this is believed to be one of the main contributors to the development of gastrointestinal symptoms.”
Another journal, The Physician and Sportsmedicine, finds that diarrhea can also be a symptom of exercise-induced gastrointestinal problems.
The reasons for exercised-induced pooping make sense. Whether you’re running or lifting weights, your bowels will be bouncing around. The organic matter in your intestines will be stirred and shaken and muscles around the abdomen will be flexed and may mimic the flexion used to expel waste into a toilet.
Another factor with mid-exercising pooping is colonic motility. Colonic motility is the frequency and consistency of stools, which may be different for each person.
There’s a saying in poop research circles that says “3 times a day or 3 times a week”. Pooping in “3’s” are perceived as natural, but it’s a wide range.
Running can affect colonic motility and speed up the urge to defecate, especially if you’re involved in distance running or extreme exercise.
So What Do You Do When You Have To Poo
With most things in life, preparation is everything. It’s easy to forget to poop before exercise. In many instances, you won’t have to go prior to exercise, so being conscious of the situation helps.
- A visit to the restroom could help force out some waste so the urge isn’t as bad once you begin exercising
- Timing the run or workout to be near a restroom will also help and provide a mid-run pit stop
- Understanding your diet will also help with gastrointestinal issues while exercising. Should you really have eaten the greasy pizza or the spicy burrito the night before your exercise? Eating healthy, low-fat meals with high fiber will make your stools harder and easier to manage while training.
- Give yourself time after the exercise to relax and get everything out. We live in a fast-paced world and we’re always on the go. Plan to be at home for 30 minutes after your workout to allow your bowels to settle.
- Hydrate properly with plenty of water and less sugary drinks and coffee. Dehydration is known to increase gastrointestinal discomfort and can reduce the chance of diarrhea-like symptoms while training.
- Take cleaning supplies with you just in case. If you’re worried about not having a toilet while training, bring a handful of toilet paper and a plastic bag. Be prepared to clean up after yourself (it’s the responsible thing to do).
If you exercise regularly, you may have noticed your urge to poop during or after your workout. You’re flexing muscles, pushing and pulling, and your intestine is bouncing around.
Your body might be thinking “let’s eject this waste so we can perform better”, but unfortunately the sensation interrupts your exercise and you waddle away to find a toilet.
If you exercise on your way to work or on your lunch break, finding a toilet can be problematic. Take the mystery pooper at Holmdel High School for example.
The alleged person responsible exercised in the early morning hours and didn’t have access to a restroom. Popping a squat on the football field was easy enough but the individual failed to clean up.
The need to poop after or during exercise is completely normal. There’s even some research behind it.
Plan ahead, assess your diet, make sure you’re hydrated, and make sure you have clean up materials with you. Even if you’re prepared, you never know when that rumbling will occur.
Thanks for reading another Toilet Travels blog article. Pooping is our business and toilets are essential!
Why Does Running Make You Poop?
I’ve pooped my pants on a run. There, I’ve said it. I was about a mile away from finishing my 6-mile loop when the stomach pain kicked in. As a long-time runner, I assumed the pains were typical stomach cramps, and I really wanted to finish my workout, so instead of stopping, I just kept trekking along. Then, all of a sudden it just started happening, seemingly out of my control. Needless to say, it was pretty traumatizing.
To decrease your chances of repeating my experience (and to keep another surprise from sneaking up on me) we got the lowdown on why this happens and how to reduce the likelihood of a mid-run poop.
Luckily for my pride, my story is a pretty common one. Runners of all kinds, from ultra runners to recreational runners like myself, experience similar stomach problems: “In some studies up to 80 percent of runners experienced GI disturbance, including abdominal pain and bowel dysfunction,” says gastroenterologist James Lee, M.D., of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, California. (While we’re at it, here’s how to poop the right way-and yes, there’s a right way.)
To make matters worse, a 2009 review of risk factors associated with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms during exercise also showed that women and young athletes are more susceptible than men and older athletes to suffer from lower GI issues, including cramps, flatulence, side stitches, and diarrhea.
So, What Causes It?
There are many reasons why we have the urge to go while running, ranging from gut motility to genetics. For example, in a study of 221 male and female endurance athletes, there was a high prevalence of symptoms directly correlated with a known history of GI problems. However, that doesn’t mean that if you’re free from GI-problems that you’ll never experience these same issues. For example, colonic motility-which basically means how often you need to poop and the softness of your stool-is increased while you run thanks to a surge of hormones in your stomach lining from all that bouncing around your doing while pounding the pavement, says Lee. All of these factors colliding is what can cause a mid-run poop. He noted that running (or other exercises that have your stomach jostling around) can also alter something called mucosal permeability, which controls the passing of materials from inside the GI tract out to the rest of the body. This causes your stool to loosen and all of a sudden you realize, “Holy crap, I need to poop!”
In addition, when running, blood flow increases to the muscles to help oxygenate and keep your body cool, says Christopher P. Hogrefe, M.D., a sports medicine physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “But what people don’t know is that it can decrease the amount of blood flow occurring to the intestines, causing abdominal cramping and potentially the urge to defecate,” says Hogrefe.
Avoid Your Mid-Run Poop Stop
While many of the reasons for why we poop during a run are out of our control, there are a few things athletes can do to make it less likely. Keep the following tips in mind when preparing for your next run. (Psst: Here’s what your poop can tell you about your health.)
Limit certain foods: Fiber, fat, protein, and fructose have all been associated with GI issues while running, and dehydration seems to exacerbate the problem, according to a 2014 overview of studies. Lee recommends avoiding fatty and high-calorie meals within three hours of running.
Avoid taking aspirin and other NSAIDs like ibuprofen: This type of medicine has been found to increase intestinal permeability, causing the GI problems you’re trying to avoid, according to one case study that looked at endurance runners.
Time your meals correctly: Using gastrocolic reflux to your advantage is key. The idea behind this scary-sounding scientific term is simple: After eating your body wants to clear room for more food, so movement of your intestines increases after eating, says Hogrefe. To use this to your advantage, eat at least two to three hours before your run to ensure you have time to use the bathroom and can head out with a clear digestive system. If you generally eat right before a run, this could be causing your digestive distress.
Start with a warm-up jog: If it feels near impossible to run without having to stop to the bathroom, Hogrefe suggests taking a warm-up jog around the neighborhood so you can make a pit stop at home before heading back out for your actual run.
Of course, runners deal with many unique “complications,” and pooping is just one of them. Sometimes it simply can’t be avoided-you can hope and pray there’s a bathroom nearby! If you do have an unlucky situation like mine, don’t be ashamed. Instead, give yourself a pat on the back and welcome yourself to the club.
- By By Jessica Thiefels
Ah, the Chicago Marathon. With thousands of participants coming out every year to run the 26.2 mile course, a great amount of training and preparation goes into this event. It’s no wonder that some athletes succumb to the one ill-fated running accident: shitting yourself while running a marathon. We interviewed five of these unlucky individuals.
5.) Maxwell Vaart:
Cause of pooping: Downing too much Starbucks.
One of the greatest mistakes a runner can make on the day of a big race is guzzling down lots of caffeine. This is exactly what novice runner Maxwell Vaart did, chugging three Starbucks lattes a mere hour before the race kicked off. Whether it was the caffeine or the sheer amount of milk in the lattes, Vaart unexpectedly released the chocolate hostages all over the race course before even hitting the first mile mark.
“It’s kind of ironic considering I was harping on everything that could possibly go wrong during the race, but pooping myself didn’t even cross my mind. Until, of course, I pooped myself,” Shartzer noted.
Shartzer made a dash for the port-a-potty soon after starting the race, and hid in there for the remainder of the marathon.
3.) Oliver Shartzer:
Cause of pooping: Overconsumption of bananas
Shartzer, a seasoned runner and pre-race pooping expert, was ashamed to admit defeat when he soiled himself in the middle of the race. Having run the Chicago marathon a number of times already, Shartzer was overconfident in his ability to squeeze in a pre-race poop before having to arrive at the start of the race.
“Normally, my routine includes eating a couple of bananas a few hours in advance so I can be sure to clear my system,” Shartzer said.
Unfortunately, Shartzer overdid it when he scarfed down a whopping six bananas only one hour before the race, resulting in his colon being evacuated when he was at mile 3. Ouch.
2.) Will Brown:
Cause of pooping: Mixed up his prophylactic with laxatives.
To avoid messing yourself in the middle of a race, many runners resort to antidiarrheal medicine. Brown was no exception: He purchased some over-the-counter prophylaxis and set it aside for race day. However, on the day of the marathon, Brown haphazardly confused his meds with the laxatives sitting in his medicine cabinet.
“It was rough, to say the least. I got the full-blown runs in the middle of the race. Like, everyone saw. Everyone,” Brown said.
“Turns out, spicy curry is not the move the night before you have to run a 26 mile race,” Butte said. “My butthole is still on fire.”
Butte was caught towards the end of the race, at mile 20, defecating all over the course.
“I would be lying if I said this is the first time something like this has happened during the Chicago marathon,” one of the station volunteers admitted. “Shitting yourself during a race like this is unbelievably common. These people are only human.”
Listen to Talk of Shame, a podcast about being young & dumb, hosted by 2 drunk girls from The Black Sheep, Mackenzie & Andrea. One can’t find her tampon, the other one’s laundry is probably on fire. Subscribe to Talk of Shame:
When Sh*t Hits the Fan: What to Do if You Have to Poop on a Run
There’s an old bit from a Robin Williams stand-up routine: a marathon runner crosses the finish line and he’s being interviewed. “How do you feel?” the interviewer asks him.
“I’m alive!” the marathoner shouts. “I’m covered in my own shit – but I’m alive!”
It’s one part funny and two parts gross – like all poop jokes – but there’s some truth in there, goal crushers: runners tend to run into a lot, and I mean way too many, gastrointestinal problems on long runs. More than one marathon runner has had to interrupt their run to go dash to the port-a-potty (or even worse, a close-by bush) and answer the call of the wild at the worst possible time.
How is This a Thing?
Runner’s Diarrhea is distressingly common. A combination of the stress and excitement leading up to a race, the fact that blood migrates away from your intestines to power your muscles during a run, and poor choices when it comes to pre-race food can cause your innards to tie themselves up in knots and then leave you no choice but to evacuate your bowels – usually in the middle of a race or a run when you’re far from any gas station bathrooms. It’s so common that some scientific journals have found as many as 93 percent of runners have had at least one symptom of gastrointestinal distress during a long run or a race, whether it’s gas, cramping, or having to make a mad dash for the tree line.
Please Tell Me There’s a Way to Avoid It!
Don’t worry – not every long-distance runner ends up pooping themselves on race day. There are plenty of things you can do to reduce your chances of encountering GI distress while long-distance running. The biggest is making sure you don’t have anything in your system in the first place. Don’t eat anything up at least two hours before race time. This doesn’t include water of course – you’ve got to stay hydrated – but some nutritionists say that warm water should be avoided, as it has the annoying habit of kick-starting your gastrointestinal gag reflex, if you know what I mean.
Additionally, make sure your diet in the days leading up to your long run is relatively devoid of dairy, fatty foods, and high-fiber foods – basically the types of foods that help you go if you need to. As long as you continue to drink plenty of water you won’t run the risk of becoming constipated, but your body’s need to eliminate waste should slow down pretty dramatically as a result.
Finally, if you’re really worried that you’ll end up on the local news with your running shorts around your ankles and a roll of toilet paper in your hands, you can always take some Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, or a similar “gastric distress” product just prior to race time. Yes, this might end up backing you up worse than I-95 at rush hour, but if the alternative is to poop your pants on a run, the temporary (and very much private) pain and suffering may be worth it.
If All Else Fails…
Of course, sometimes not all the prep in the world can guarantee you a poop-free long distance run. Best advice in this case is to take a look at the route ahead of time and see if there are any places you can relieve yourself safely and securely. If you’re going to be traveling an urban route, look for restaurants, gas stations, and other places along the route that you can make a pit stop safely. Scout out the locations of any port-a-johnnies beforehand as well, if you can. Otherwise, just pray that your guts don’t start a-gurgling!
What about you? Ever end up with bubble-gut while on a run? Share your own stories below – or tips on how to avoid the ignoble fate of crapping in public.
Until next time – keep crushing those goals!
If you get sudden urges to go to the toilet to pass urine which are difficult to ignore, you could be suffering from an overactive bladder.
This is sometimes called an unstable or irritable bladder or detrusor overactivity. It means that your bladder wants to squeeze out urine, even if it’s not full. The most common symptoms are listed below:
- A sudden urge to go to the toilet to pass urine – Urgency
- Not getting to the toilet in time to pass urine – Urge Incontinence
- Needing to go to the toilet to pass urine very often (more than 7 times a day) – Frequency
- Getting up to go to the toilet to pass urine during the night – Nocturia
- Wetting the bed – Nocturnal Enuresis
Remember – an overactive bladder is not an inevitable part of ageing.
What Causes An Overactive Bladder?
It is often hard to say what causes an overactive bladder. Doctors recognise several underlying causes and it is important to make sure that there is no other treatable condition causing your symptoms before you assume that your problem is due to an overactive bladder. We do know that some things can irritate the bladder and make symptoms worse; such as:
- Some fluids we drink may cause problems. Caffeine and alcohol may irritate the bladder and cause urgency and frequency. Some fizzy drinks and fruit teas containing hibiscus can also irritate the bladder
- On the other hand, some people do not drink enough fluids, their urine becomes very concentrated and this can also irritate the bladder
- Another common cause of urgency is an infection. Your doctor or practice nurse can do a simple urine dipstick test to see if there is an infection present
Overactive bladder symptoms can be caused by a number of other conditions, including:
- People who have diabetes can develop an overactive bladder
- Men with prostate problems, not necessary prostate cancer
- Women who have had operations for stress incontinence are also at risk
- Any condition that affects the nervous system can cause problems. Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s are all possible causes. Some of these conditions can also cause issues with getting around so that people affected may not be able to get to the toilet quickly enough
For many people suffering from an overactive bladder, the actual cause cannot be identified. It can be a relief to know that there is no other health problem causing your symptoms but it can also be frustrating and confusing not having a reason for the problem.
Approaching Your GP
The urgent need to use the toilet or not being able to hold on can be a real problem for millions of people of all ages. If you have an overactive bladder, you are certainly not alone.
It is never too late to get help with your bladder problems.
Sometimes reading a patient story can help you more than reading an information sheet.
We currently have an overactive bladder patient story available. If you would like read this real life account of living with an overactive bladder and the treatments used to manage the symptoms, please visit our Patient Stories section.
We have an information sheet on Overactive Bladder which includes more in depth information. Please visit our downloads section to download this information sheet.
Read: Using the restroom: A privilege—if you’re a teacher
A majority (84 percent) of respondents in the recent survey, which was distributed among school nurses serving all grade levels nationwide, said students often have ulterior motives when they ask to use the bathroom—maybe they don’t have to go and just want to meet up with a friend, for example, or perhaps they intend to skip the bathroom altogether and cause a ruckus in the hallway. A little more than half reported that kids misbehave in the bathroom. Underlying these assumptions is the fact that few schools have written policies on students’ bathroom use—just 8 percent of nurses said such rules existed, while fewer than half said students on their campus can use the bathroom whenever they please, with permission required only as a formality.
And the survey’s results suggest that such realities persist despite growing recognition of the health consequences. More than a third of respondents expressed concern about the adequacy of kids’ bathroom-break time—and three in four said they were aware of bladder or bowel problems among kids at their school.
A separate 2015 study underscores the disconnect between discipline-focused bathroom policies and kids’ health. While 81 percent of the more than 4,000 elementary-school teachers said they allow kids unlimited access to water, 88 percent also said they encourage their students to hold their pee; 36 percent of participants, meanwhile, indicated they had a “protocol in place to encourage students not to use the bathroom during class time.” Also notable: About eight in 10 of those educators said bullying, misbehavior, vandalizing, or other negative behavior happens in the restroom.
Some experts point to bed-wetting—which according to the American Academy of Pediatrics affects 20 percent of 5-year-olds and can be a symptom of an acutely dysfunctional bladder—as attributable largely to kids holding in their urine or feces. This “voiding dysfunction,” as medical practitioners refer to it, can have severe, long-lasting physiological consequences—a swollen colon can damage the nerves feeding into the bladder, for example—not to mention psychological ones.
Despite the growing body of empirical research showing that holding it is bad for kids, schools’ mind-sets don’t seem to have changed much. This is the case even though awareness among campus officials appears to be growing, if only slightly. In a 2012 survey, fewer than half of the 600 school nurses who responded suspected that children with frequent urination or bladder and bowel accidents were suffering from an underlying health problem. Roughly a decade earlier, in 2003, that number was even smaller when similar questions were asked of teachers. Fewer than one in five participants in a survey of Iowa educators suspected that children who demonstrated frequent urination or accidents were suffering from an underlying health problem. A third of them said they’d ordered at least one student requesting bathroom access to wait.