Why You Feel Like You Have To Poop While Running — An Explanation

Why You Have To Poop During A Run — An Explanation

Before we jump into the science behind this important question, let’s just go ahead and get this out there: everyone poops. Some people might poop rainbows, of course, but at some point you’re going to have to do it, and for some weird reason, the frequency or insistence can increase while you’re running or after a good run. So, why is it that when you’re jogging down your favorite wooded street and hearing the birds chirp, you’re hit by an urge that does not fit your pretty, peaceful surroundings?

The reason behind the random urge to poop while running comes down to the stress held in your gut. Darrin Bright, the medical director for the Columbus Marathon, who also runs and coaches, told Competitor.com that a lot of people “hold stress in their GI tract.” Then, when you run, your organs get more jostled around, and things become more loosened up. (I know how this sounds, but it’s the truth, I swear.)

Dr. Stephen De Boer, a registered dietician with the Mayo Clinic who has studied this digestive phenomenon said there’s less blood flowing through your GI tract as you’re running and the changes your body is undergoing during the start of the run make it want to force everything out (to literally lighten the load — LOL):

“What is clear is that food moves more quickly through the bowels of athletes in training,” Boer told Competitor.com.

Unfortunately, runner’s, unlike most other active people, are stuck with the crappy end of the exercise deal — digestion wise. BuzzFeed spoke with Dr. Sophie Balzora, a specialist in gastroenterology at NYU Langone Medical Center, who said runners are uniquely faced with insistent intestines:

“It’s pounding on the pavement and that mechanical disturbance, the jostling of the intestines. It seems obvious when you compare it to, say, cyclists, who are seated the whole time,” Balzora said.

Damn those cyclists. They’re overenthusiastic about exercise and they never have to worry about soiling their brightly-colored outfits.

There are a few ways to avoid the mid-run runs, though, according to Balzora. First and most importantly, keep hydrated. Dehydration can make it hard for your intestines to hold onto anything, so their only other alternative is to eject everything. Second, try not to eat anything right before a run, especially foods or drinks that are high in caffeine, fiber, fat or artificial sweeteners. Also, if you’re new to running, try to take it easy. Running harder than your ready for or for longer distances without working up to it can upset your GI tract more easily.


Image: brett lohmeyer/Flickr


About the Author
Josephine Yurcaba
Josephine Yurcaba is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer. She specializes in lifestyle content, women's issues, politics, and New York music. She has written for Bustle, The Daily Meal, The Village Voice, and Rolling Stone.

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