You know that feeling: 30 minutes in and you're praying to find a bathroom up ahead, or cursing yourself for having to go in the first place. Runner's trots is a common issue for athletes of all levels, and can be a serious problem if you're looking to make a PR; waiting in line at the porto-potty is not going to help with that.
There are a number of reasons for trots, including climate, stress, bathroom schedule, hormonal changes and dehydration says Lisa Dorfman, The Running Nutritionist. However, there's one thing you can do to make a difference: train your body to digest certain food and drinks.
Here's what you should—and should not—put on your race-day menu.
Foods to Avoid Before and During
What eat before a race has a huge impact on trots. "Blood flow is cut off from the gut and is redirected to your muscles," says Dorfman. If you eat the wrong foods too close to start time, it can cause digestive and bowel problems.
While these trigger foods will be different from one person to the next, some are almost guaranteed to cause trots.
Before the race:
- Sugar: Sugar loves water, says Dorfman and as such, it loves to fill up its cells with H2O. You know who else loves water during a race? You. The more water you drink, the more water moves into your cells, and it all has to come out somehow. So, keep your gels, bars, gummies or high-sugar sports drinks to a minimum so you can focus on hydrating without the consequences.
- Fiber: This all-important nutrient is necessary for everyday heath. Before a race, however, it's not so good. "It's probably the worst thing to have before a run because we don't have the enzymes to digest fiber. So it does pass through and grab some cholesterol on the way and brings down blood sugar ... but in terms of digestion it will race right through you," says Dorfman.
- Lactose/Dairy: Whether you're lactose intolerant, or not, dairy and lactose products can be hard for your body to digest, which can cause gas and cramping during the race.
- Fats: A long digestion time means that any high-fat foods will be your running partner until it's tired of sticking around—usually during the middle of your race.