In a perfect world, you’d answer mother nature’s call in the morning. You’d get out of bed, shower, have breakfast, then use the bathroom before you lace on your shoes and get going.
But, things don’t always go as planned
There are many things you can do right now to “speed things up,” let’s say, when you are about to go a long morning run or have an important race ahead of you (and don’t want to make any unwanted potty trips).
For more icing on the cake, most of these steps are natural things you like to do every day away, and as far as I can tell, most of the research recommended making yourself poop.
Why Running Makes You Want to Poop?
Before we get into the actual strategies to help get things going, let’s first discuss some of the ways that running, and exercise in general, make you want to poop.
If you have never had to stop in the middle of a run because you had to do number two, then consider yourself one of the lucky ones (or maybe you haven’t been running that long).
The truth is, toilet emergencies are very common among runners. Everybody poops, but runners tend to poop more often.
Don’t take my word for it. Survey has reported that roughly 30 to 90 percent of runners experienced some gastrointestinal distress. In fact, it’s a running joke in the running world—no pun intended.
But what’s the secret behind running’s magical poop-inducing power?
Logging miles forces things to move through the intestines and colon, so avoiding the bathroom the hours before a run may increase the risks of having to stop in the middle of a run to answer nature’s call.
When you run or exercise in general, blood flow diminishes to the gut and shifts away to the muscles.
The longer and harder you run, the higher the chance that it’s going to compromise your GI tract function.
Research has also shown that diarrhea and rectal bleeding are widespread among endurance athletes but almost twice as likely for runners.
Bowel Movements – Are you Constipated?
One of the most common problems is constipation. This not only limits the number of daily bowel movements but also causes undue straining and time spent on the toilet.
You might be constipated if you have
- Fewer than three poops a week
- Pain or difficulty while defecating
- Lumpy, hard, or dry stools
The frequency of your bowel movements depends on many variables, such as
- When you eat
- What you eat
- Your workout habits
- Your sleep habits
- Your gut bacteria health level
- What environment you’re in
- And so much more
How To Make Yourself Poop
Without further ado, here are some strategies to help you get things moving so you can make the most out of your runs.
Wake Up Earlier
The most common reason you feel the urge to defecate on a morning run is because of your kind of rush things.
That’s why, as a rule, your first step is to wake up at least an hour before your run or race. This should be long enough to allow to have enough time to go through your whole morning routine, including hydrating, having coffee and snack, stretching, and of course, time for the bathroom.
Have Your Coffee
Although the exact link between coffee and bowel movements is still a mystery, research has reported that caffeine can get things moving.
Caffeine is classified as cathartic. This means that it stimulates the colon to contract, acting as a laxative for many people.
However, the researchers also doubt that caffeine is behind it since even decaf coffee had a similar effect.
Not a fan of coffee? Then any hot liquid, such as hot tea with lemon, or plain tea, may trigger the same effect.
Warm liquids function as a vasodilator. This helps widen blood vessels in the digestive tract and increase circulation in the whole area.
If the pre-run hot drink isn’t enough, perform a few moves near the bathroom. This takes me to the next tip.
Warm Up Indoor
A proper warm-up gets your heart pumping and enlivens your muscles.
But that’s not the whole story. In fact, warming up may also make you more likely to defecate just before you head out.
Perform a dynamic warm-up routine before heading out.
Try moves such as walking lunges, jumping jacks, inchworms, and scorpions, or jogging up and down the stairs for five to ten minutes. You can also just around the house or the block until you’re ready to “go.”
Just remember not to push your body too hard. Keep it light. As long as the activity is enough to dilate your blood vessels, you’re good to go.
Racing? Warm up with a series of strides while you’re still near the porta-potties.
Mind Your Fiber
One of the best ways to improve your bowel function to get plenty of fiber.
Insoluble fiber consists of the stuff in the finds that doesn’t get broken down by the digestive system and absorbed by the
At a minimum, research suggests that adults should aim to get roughly 24 to 38 grams of fiber per day.
Some of the best sources of insoluble fiber include:
- White grains
Just keep in mind that eating too much fiber at once may irritate your GI tract, causing cramping or gas.
This is especially the case if you’re not used to eating a high amount of fiber.
Not a fan of veggies? No problem, try a juice or veggie blend supplement. It provides a nice alternative.
Constipation can often be caused by anxiety and stress, especially before a race.
The brain and digestive system are intimately connected, and any stress can mess around with your bowel habits. When you stress, you actually put your body into fight or flight mode. What’s more?
Being constipated can also be stressful, so it creates this endless loop. The harder it is to poop, the more stressed you are. The more stressed you are, the harder it is to poop.
Here’s the solution.
Chill. Try to relax and take enough. Pressuring your body to poop won’t work—it might actually backfire, and you don’t want that.
The best to deal with stress, especially pre-race jitters, is to get rid of any stressors or anything that brings you down. Try meditation, breathwork, or yoga. Some yoga poses might help you release some of the tension around your belly and rectum so you can defecate with ease.
Try A Laxative
In some cases, taking an over-the-counter medication before a run or big race isn’t a bad idea.
Some OTC laxatives help stimulate bowel movement by squeezing the intestine.
Standard options include
- Castor oil
Or any OTC medicine with compounds such as:
- Magnesium hydroxide
- Magnesium citrate
- Polyethylene glycol
- Sodium phosphate
But here’s the little disclaimer. Some laxatives may end up causing unwanted side effects—just like any other drug.
These, at the right dose, should be enough to prevent constipation but have too much, and you will end up with a bad case of bloating, then diarrhea.
Opting for a healthy diet that contains lots of healthy natural fiber is the way to go, even if you decide to take a supplement.
Try A Massage
This shouldn’t be the first thing to do, but desperate times call for desperate measures. What can I say?
When all else fails, try massaging your perineum, which is the area between your genitals and your anus.
It may sound weird, but research out of UCLA backs this up. The research found that applying pressure to the perineum with the index finger and pointer finger can help soothe constipation as it stimulates certain pressure points.
Here’s how to do it.
First, wash your hands. Next, while using your index and middle finger, gently push upward on the perineal skin (again, that’s the area between your genitals and the anus).
Keep doing in pulses of about five to ten seconds.
Not comfortable doing it? Try reflexology. There are trigger points in every corner of your body, and that’s how reflexology helps.
Squat To Poop
Technique also matters in the bathroom as research has shown that the standard sitting method is not poop-inducing friendly.
Enter the squat. When you squat, you change the anatomy of the muscles around the rectum while also raising the part of the colon that makes it easier to defecate.
The closer you get to an actual full squat, the easier it will be to empty your bowels.
Just keep in mind that you don’t actually need to squat on the bathroom seat to make this work.
Instead, you can mimic it by placing a stool under your feet to raise your knees up. The higher, the better. At least over your lower belly.
Again, don’t take my word for it. Research out of the Ohio State University revealed that using a toilet stool—just like described before—helped improve bowel movement in more than two-thirds of participants, and 90 percent experienced less straining during bowel movement.
You can also try moving around a bit by either leaning forward or backward to figure out the position that works the best for you.
There you have it! If you’re looking for ways to take care of constipation before you go out for a run, then today’s post should be enough to get you started on the right foot. The rest is up to you.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.
Keep training strong.