|Search Cool Running Community|
Am I the only one this happens to? Before a run, I always make sure to use the bathroom. Then, along the way, usually in the middle of nowhere, I have the overwhelming urge to use the bathroom. If I just had to pee, I'd find a bush, but this is far worse! Without grahipc details, I've gotten into embarrassing situations because of this problem. I've tried everything, and it's a hit or miss solution. I run about 3-4 days a week for a total to 25-30 miles, depending where I am in my training schedule. Any help, suggestions, remedies or just someone who understands would be very much appreciated!
Despite the lack of replies so far, I think everybody who frequents the Med Tent is sympathetic about your situation, and many have had this problem at one time or another. I know I have. The difference might be whether it is ongoing, so to speak.
Assuming you are otherwise "regular," it could have something to do with your schedule and how you stage your meals the day before. If you run every other day, for example, and run early in the day at the same time you have breakfast on your off-days, the breakfast 24 hours before may be what is finding its way out. If you are skipping breakfast, it may be the previous day's dinner delayed until the jostling of your run wakes up your bowels.
If the above paragraph sounds familiar, the cure could be to stage the timing of your meals so that they are not 24 hours before your run. If they are hours earlier or later, they are less likely to be finding the same time slot for their grand exit, which is the way it works in most people. I use this method before marathons or important races, to make sure all that training time and effort are not, umm.. flushed down the toilet. Also, the components of these 24 hour meals should be wholesome enough to digest on a regular schedule, i.e. containing enough fiber and natural sugars to enhance the fermentation and breakdown of your meal.
Some people also have coffee or caffeine before their runs, and it is important to know that the diuretic effect of stimulants can cause the bowels to move, as well as force the urge to urinate. If you like having coffee before your run as many do, try drinking it an hour earlier.
You will probably get a lot of advice for using drugs like immodium, etc. to interfere with the digestive process long enough to get through your run. Likewise you may get advice for using laxatives the night before, to clean everything out on the first pass. While these things may work temporarily, you do not want to develop a dependence on chemicals to delay your natural digestive cycle, because this is not healthy for your intestines - it just forces your body to adjust to your schedule. It is better for you to adjust your schedule to the timing of your body, including any of the lifestyle changes I mentioned that can facilitate this.
I have found that awareness of scheduling healthy natural meals with a minimum of processed, sterile foods gets my body into a predictable rhythm that I can plan my runs around, without any unplanned ""runs" to worry about - barring any illness, of course. Another trick I use to stay on schedule is taking a commonly available magnesium tablet before bed. Any of this vital mineral your body does not need will be voided by morning, along with whatever else is waiting for departure. This way I insure adequate magnesium levels for muscular health, along with guaranteed regularity.
A good probiotic like acidophilus can also help to insure proper digestive timing, but avoid intake of high levels of calcium, which has the opposite effect of magnesium and will constipate you (some mineral supplements balance these two minerals to counteract this effect). Timing of things like antacids and anti-gas medicine can also be a factor. Gas from the fermentation process is what aids intestinal peristalsis during bowel movements, so suppressing gas, though socially acceptable, has a down side. Better to insure timely breakdown of food through use of healthy intestinal flora like probiotics, and natural enzymes that break down food before excess gas is produced. Some people have trouble producing enough digestive enzymes or stomach acid, and need a little help in this department. Once again good nutrition is the best long-term strategy, because the popularity of anti-gas, acid-blocking medicines and other chemical interventions has interfered with timely digestion in many people.
I know this sounds like a lecture, but there are a lot of environmental hazards in the average lifestyle these days that make healthy bowel movements and regularity in many of us nearly impossible. With enough initial care and effort, you can counteract that trend in your own life, make lasting changes in your body functions, and get back on track, literally.
To summarize, look into your scheduling of meals versus your runs the next day, and allow your body a few days to adjust. Look into the components of your meals and other things you may be taking to insure that everything is working together to improve dependable regularity. Despite the odds in the modern lifestyle, I am sure you can beat this problem as many others have. Good luck and good health!