How to stop needing a poo when running

A Person Holding his Stomach

Urm… bowel movement isn’t what we want on a run so let’s see how we can stop that

Well, bowel movement is pretty much impossible to stop but with pooing on the other hand, like our first days at nursery, there are things that can be done. From irritable bowel syndrome to a simple decreased blood flow, there’s a lot that can cause unwanted ejection. And it’s only made better when we realise we can stop things mid-run.

Runner’s diarrhea is a thing, believe me, or perhaps you already know because well… I won’t remind you. Either way, your digestive system should never be a hurdle. Afterall, it was designed to make things a little easier. Come to think of it, so am I.

Let’s design our own exit strategy before our body beats us to it.

Why do I poop when I run?

Endurance athletes may know this but some of us didn’t listen in biology, so let’s go through it now.

It’s not always a guaranteed, simultaneous affair, but naturally the more you move the more your bowels will move too. It makes your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract move more. The redirection of blood, also coming from movement (especially crazy rigorous movements like running) affect poop probability too. Your digestive tract fluctuates and oscillates and suddenly, you wanna poop.

I know, unavoidable?

How to avoid… it.

Here are some tips from a good friend GREATIST.

  • Drink eight cups of water a day on top of your usual intake.
  • Take a fiber supplement (on top of eating a high fiber diet) to promote bowel regularity.
  • Have a warm drink like tea or coffee, or even warm oatmeal, before the race.
  • Experiment with different supplements and energy gels during a trial run to see how your body reacts.
  • Avoid foods made from white flour and fatty, greasy meals that can clog you up and stop you from going to the bathroom before the race.

Other mid… run techniques.

here are some more to help with the old tract issues, especially mid-run.

So, keeping a regular digestive pattern (food intake) is super important. Our bodies usually react a little strangely to volatile diets. Take in less or no fibre before a race, this will definitely help clog up the zone. Try to poop ahead of the race with things like warm liquid on the day, taking a fibre supplement, and staying away from troublesome foods like flour.


Do all that you can to avoid a Paula (if you know then you know). It’s not the end of the world, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of but it will simply ruin a time, a relaxing run and yeah okay you might be a little embarrassed towards the end.

In any case, bowel movements, stress hormones, running routes, runner’s trots, race day victories… there’s a whole world of reasons to keep those bowels on their best behaviour.

Alternatively, you could stop and use a toilet.


Should I pack toilet paper? Even for a race?

Yes, you can absolutely pack toilet paper, if the race allows. But of course, if it’s for your own leisure then that’s probably a sensible idea.

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