How to avoid "runner's trots"

This article is for athletes that experience intestinal discomfort while running and have to “go” while running. If your problem is that you have to “pee” during your event, read our article on avoiding the porta potty.

what is runner's trots?

It’s one of the most embarrassing issues for a runner, yet most runner’s have experienced it at one point or another. You can pinch, squeeze and hold all you want, but eventually the pain takes over. There’s no stopping it … when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. Welcome to runner’s trots.

Runner’s trots is a range of gastrointestinal symptoms from nausea and painful cramping to flatulence and diarrhea, often accompanied by an urgent need to go. This can happen both during and after running.

what NOT to do

Artificial Sweeteners
Stevia, sucralose, xylitol, etc., can cause gas and other unwanted GI issues. Avoid these for two days prior to and during the race.

Dairy and High Fiber Foods
Avoid dairy products, high-fiber foods and any other foods known to cause loose stools or flatulence for two days prior to and during the race

Solid Foods
Avoid eating any solid foods at all at least two hours prior to your run, particularly anything with fats, fiber and/or protein. This will allow your stomach to empty and hopefully your intestines as well (more time may be required). Watch our short video on the benefits of using liquid nutrition instead of solids

Avoid the intake of caffeinated products and warm fluids close to your race. If you feel you need caffeine, read our caffeine recommendations

Nothing New
Remember the golden rule … never try something new on race day. Most people know not to try a new brand or pair of running shoes on race day. What you put in your body on race day is even more important.

Be Smart
Know your body and be smart about it. If you experience blood in your stool, weight loss, a change in appetite, recurrent nausea or vomiting, chronic changes in your bowel habits or ongoing abdominal pain, you should go to see your doctor. These symptoms may be a sign of something more serious and requires further investigation.

what to do

Liquid Nutrition
Use liquid nutrition (hydration drinks or energy gels with water) before and during your run. These are absorbed via osmosis without significant digestive requirements, so when done properly they will not cause any GI related issues.

Water with Energy Gels
If you use energy gels, be sure to use water as well. Taking a gel with a sports drink or solid foods can slow the absorption and potentially cause GI issues. Gels are super convenient and arguably the best choice for runners when used right. Read our article on proper gel usage

Hydrate before the race, but don’t overhydrate. Aim for a very light yellow urine color.

Drink during the race
Most people don’t drink nearly enough during a race and it can cause all kinds of problems in addition to GI issues. Watch our short video on proper hydration

Train the way you race
So many people use nutrition products during a race but never in their training. This is just a bad idea and you’re setting your self up for potential problems. Learn to take your gels and water, or your sports drink, during your training runs. Not only will this help you on race day, but your training will most likely improve as well.

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