April 16 2018
The pressure to succeed got the best of me—until I learned to race without fear.
You can pinch, squeeze and hold all you want, but suddenly the gurgling, sharp, sudden pain takes over. There’s no stopping it but hey, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Runner’s trots—damn you.
It’s one of the most embarrassing issues a runner can experience, yet everyone has been plagued by it at one point or another.
“I have been personally plagued by the notorious runner’s trots for all the years I have been a runner. Imagine being a gastroenterologist and feeling incapable of controlling your own intestinal tract! Well I am in good company,” shares Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman, Chief of Clinical Operations and Director of The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine.
Some athletes hit the loo once a day, others twice and others every few days. But what all can agree on is the sudden urgency to go is a little embarrassing.
“Many people don’t report the problem, due to embarrassment, however studies have shown that as many as 20 to 50 percent of runners in a 10K race experience symptoms associated with runner’s trots,” shares Dr. Schnoll-Sussman.
So what exactly is runner’s trots? Dr. Schnoll-Sussman explains that it’s a range of gastrointestinal symptoms from nausea and painful cramping to flatulence and diarrhea. The urgent need for defecation may subsequently occur. They can be experienced during or after exercise.
Related: Dealing With Tummy Troubles
The exact cause of runner’s trots is unknown, but the stress of long-distance running may bring out symptoms in people with underlying irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or those with food intolerances such as issued caused by lactose.
Common factors include:
There are many preventative tactics you can try to prevent runner’s trots, suggests Dr. Schnoll-Sussman:
Know your body. “If you experience blood in your stool, weight loss, a change in appetite, recurrent nausea or vomiting, chronic changes in your bowel habits or ongoing abdominal pain, you should go to see your doctor,” expresses Dr. Schnoll-Sussman. “These symptoms may be a sign of something more serious and requires further investigation.”