5 Ways to Deal with Bathroom Issues on the Run

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Runner holding stomach

Virtually every runner has dealt with bathroom issues at one time or another logging some miles or running a race.

Paula Radcliffe proved that even world record holders sometimes have to make a pit stop in the middle of a race when she ran to side of the road and defecated on live television during the London Marathon.

There is no shame in taking care of business on the go, but there are ways to decrease the odds of this happening to you on your run.

Here's some help gleaned from experience on the road, trails and track to lessen the chance of inconvenient bathroom issues and deal more gracefully with them when they arise.

1. Imodium

Imodium is a staple in many runners' medicine cabinets. Imodium works by slowing down gut movement and making stool less watery. While it is important to try to get everything out of your system before a run, Imodium is a good choice right before a long race like a marathon when a mid-race stop would be incredibly inconvenient.

Like all pre-race preparations, do not use Imodium for the first time on race morning; try it out once or twice during a training run to see how it affects you. You can find Imodium at your local drug store.

2. Proper Fueling

When and how you fuel has a major impact on your bathroom schedule the following morning. The night before an early morning race, your last meal should be fairly early (think 5 to 7 p.m.) so your body has enough time to fully digest the meal and get rid of the waste before race time.

Track how your body responds to different foods in your running log. If you are preparing for a long race, use your long training runs as practice to find out what pre-race dinner foods are going to sit well and digest fast for race day. For many runners, this means taking special note as to which foods need to be avoided in meals prior to a race, such as dairy or gluten. Every runner is different, so you'll need to find out what works best for you. Never try something brand new the night before a race, as you don't know how it will affect your body.

3. Morning Routine

Rising early on race morning gives you plenty of time to take care of business. Most professional runners wake up at least three hours before race time. Moving around early encourages your body to go through its normal functions, especially when you pair the early wake-up with water, coffee and a light breakfast.

Both water and coffee have a great way of moving things through your system so you will be ready to race. If you are not a regular coffee drinker, don't wait until race morning to try it out, as you may be over-influenced by the flood of caffeine in your body.