about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.



Taboo.

This post is probably long overdue, and is going to cover something that I think is VERY common in the running world, but rarely talked about.  That’s right folks, I’m talking about POOP.

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Running and pooping are about as synonymous as running and sweating – it’s just unavoidable.  But no one is ever willing to talk about it!  Maybe it’s gross, maybe it’s unnecessary, but I think it’s important.  Here goes…

I have had many a close call in my 3-ish years of running, probably more than most.  I have a really sensitive digestive system, and running double digit mileage almost always sends my stomach into a spiral.  Back home, I would literally plan my runs around possible bathroom stops, knowing that it was only a matter of time before my breakfast turned on me.  My wonderful running partner, Lindsey, was more than understanding of my digestive dilemmas. 

It sounds funny (or maybe just gross) but it’s actually really horrible and embarrassing!  There is NO worse feeling than being miles from a bathroom with no other options.  Back in Cincinnati it was even more of an issue because I almost always ran with my dogs, and you can’t take dogs into public restrooms!  Over time, I’ve learned that in order to avoid public humiliation and panic, I need to plan my running and eating accordingly, so that there are no more close calls.  But even knowing what I know, sometimes it still gets the best of me.

This morning I woke up later than usual, and didn’t get to eat breakfast until almost nine – just two hours before the long run.  I knew right away that this wouldn’t be enough time for – errr, cleansing – but I also knew that in order to run I had to eat.  I ate my PB&J and hoped for the best, but when 10:40 rolled around and it was time to leave, no cleanse had happened.  We headed out the trail regardless, and got ready to run!

When I got up this morning it seemed really cold outside, but when we got to the greenway I was pleased to discover that it was the PERFECT day for running!  I ended up ditching my long sleeves and ran in my t-shirt after mile two.  The sun was shining the whole time, and we both felt awesome!  But around mile seven I could feel my dinner and breakfast weighing me down, and making me very uncomfortable.  I could tell it was slowing my pace, because I felt really heavy. 

Kath was a good sport, listening to me complain about my bathroom woes, and didn’t seem horrified or grossed out.  I made it all the way to mile 9.25, but knew that at that point, walking was a MUST if I was going to make it back to the car without an accident.  I told Kath to take off, and I slowly walked/jogged back to the parking lot and straight into a port-o-let.  It is SO frustrating to have a good, strong run controlled by my stomach.

Does anyone else deal with running and digestive problems??  What are some of your tips and tricks?  Please do not be afraid to share!

Not exactly the way I had planned to end my 10 mile run, but still a successful run nonetheless.  It was fun to join Kath as she ventured into the DOUBLE digits, too!

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Even though my near-accident forced me to slow down at the end, I still finished exactly at our goal time – 90 minutes!

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After the run, we all headed back to our house for quick showers, and a yummy lunch!  I have seen the smoothie-in-a-bowl featured on many blogs, and I knew Kath was a fan, so she introduced me and Casey to this sludgy bowl of deliciousness…

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Into our mix (I think!) was spinach, Amazing Grass meal, cantaloupe, honey, Silk almond milk, and frozen banana – topped with a crushed up Trader Joe’s peanut butter crunch bar!  SO GOOD!

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On the side, a piece of Great Harvest bread with blackberry preserves and Naturally Nutty cinnamon cherry peanut butter, mmmmmmm…

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YUM!  Casey and I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for a new couch, and I think we found some really good possibilities!!  We are hoping to make a final decision tomorrow and place an order, so that hopefully we will have a new living room in just a few short weeks!  And now I am starving, so I’m off to make dinner.

Thanks for listening to my taboo discussion about POOP.  Someone had to finally do it, right?  :)

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9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans     at 2:13 pm

I deal with this issue too!! In fact it derailed my 1/2 marathon training plan for a week and a half earlier this month which was not ideal. I wish I knew what to do. I’ve lowered fibre intake before long runs, I have cut out most dairy, I try to eat light before runs but nothing seems to guarantee a good run in the digestive department. Maybe I just have to live with it like I live with the sweating as you said….

[Reply]

nicole     at 8:20 pm

I have this SAME exact problem! And I don’t have any suggestions either (sorry!). The only thing that has worked for me is to 1) wake up and immediately eat breakfast at least 2 hrs before a run and 2) make sure there are at least 2 bathroom options along my route.

I’ve also discovered that Cliff Shot Blocks and not Gu work much better for my sensitive stomach during longer training runs.

[Reply]

Chanda     at 10:24 am

Thanks for being brave and posting about this topic! I have been dealing with the same issues as my mileage increases. I keep meaning to take an Immodium before a long run to see if it helps. It doesn’t matter if I eat, don’t eat, or what type of food I eat… sh** happens!

[Reply]

Cathy     at 12:27 pm

I never had this issue until this year when I was training for my first marathon. I don’t know if it was the longer miles, being on a different schedule, or eating different/more foods, but I was definitely thankful for the bathrooms along the Lakefront Trail. Unfortunately, the bathrooms have been closed for the winter so on one occassion I was lucky for an especially large tree to duck behind…

Also, food manufacturers have been adding extra fiber to all sorts foods these days, so maybe that has something to do with it. Look for inulin (chicory extract) since that might lead to some digestive issues.

[Reply]

Karen @ Gravy Training     at 12:40 pm

On my normal runs I’m usually ok (though there have still been a few close calls…). It’s race day that kills me. All that nervous tension just sends my tummy into overdrive. In fact that’s usually what makes me nervous on race day now. I call it “worry poo” :D Needless to say, races that take place on tree lined streets or on nature trails are my favorite… there’s always some bush I could duck behind if needed! That alone helps calm down my stomach! Oh, also, no coffee on race morning.

[Reply]

Chrissy (The New Me)     at 1:30 pm

I just posted about this exact same issue and referenced your post. Thanks for opening the door to a necessary discussion! It’s good to know I’m not alone. :)

[Reply]

Morgan     at 8:46 pm

I was wondering if you have found a solution to this problem yet? I would definitely say no coffee before running!

[Reply]

Karen     at 6:42 pm

I have had the same issue. Only recently it has been a little better since cutting out fiber about 24-36 hrs before a long run. I am usually a fiber freak, trying to be all healthy. I have since exchanged my pre long run dinner of high fiber pasta and bread to the good old white stuff. I actually did an 18 miler and a 20 miler with no poop stop!!! I was so excited.

[Reply]

Christina     at 1:59 pm

I just found your blog early this week. My only complaint is that I didn’t find it sooner! I absolutely love your posts, you are motivatiing! I have to say thank you SO much for this post. I have struggled with this issue myself. When I was training for a marathon I tried everything and nothing worked, but most days the only way I could get my training run in was before work, which is when my stomach really isn’t interested. I even had to duck behind some bushes once, PRAYING no one would happen by. Thankfully no one did but it made me forever paranoid. So again, thanks for this post. I haven’t talked about this issue with my running friends and just always assumed I was the only one.

[Reply]

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