Monday, January 22, 2018

Oops, Just Pooped During My Run

*Wouldn't wish this on anyone
Do you often need to go to the toilet just before your race? For lots of runners, the urge to go to the toilet happens during the race as well. I've occasionally needed to when I was racing, especially before a big race. But thankfully, never during an important race.

Well, you'll be surprised to know that the cause of you going to the toilet may be coming from your head.

A recently published study done only on 150 runners suggest that runners' gastrointestinal (stomach) problems during training runs and races were significantly related to their stress and anxiety levels. The runners were followed up for 30 days in this particular study.

This is after accounting for other known causes of stomach issues such as caffeine, medication, carbohydrates consumed during the run and workout intensity.

There is previous ample evidence that running intensity is closely linked to gastrointestinal issues. The faster (or eventually further) you run, the more blood is diverted temporarily from elsewhere (such as from digestion areas) to running muscles.

In this study, the runners who reported more anxiety and stress in their daily life were more likely to have flatulence, stomach distress and mid-run pit stops while running.

Other than running intensity and other contributing factors tracked, the major reason from this study showed that the runners' reported level of stress and anxiety was the other major factor linked to "on the run" gastrointestinal problems.

Bear in mind that the runners' in the study were not stressed about their running. From the questionnaires, the reported stress were based on people recalling their daily lives, not a specific activity such as work, or in this case, exercise.

So if you're having stomach issues before, during or after a stressful or anxiety provoking event, it makes it more likely that your stomach symptoms (and the need to use the toilet) are stress and anxiety related. Make sure you try to use the toilet before you run.


Wilson PB (2017). Perceived Life Stress And Anxiety Correlate With Chronic Gastrointestinal Symptoms In Runners. J Sports Sci. Dec 1:1-7. DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2017.1411175.

*Took the picture off the computer from

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