5 ways to prevent runner's trots

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I just found out that Runner’s Diarrhea is alternatively known as Runner’s Trots. Trots! I love that name! Trots, themselves, however? That’s one thing I certainly do not love.

What are these trots I speak of?

Long-distance running sometimes has the unfortunate side effect of an upset stomach. We’re talking frequent, loose bowel movements and/or cramping during or after a run.

Why?

The cause isn’t 100% clear, but is likely related to a few factors:

  • Muscles have increased needs for oxygen when they’re working hard. This means blood flow is diverted from other places, like your gut, to help them out.

  • When you’re bounding down the road your organs are moving too. All of that jostling might make them cranky.

  • Running is accompanied by a host of physiological changes. Alterations in intestinal hormone secretion could be the cause.

  • If y ou’re racing or just have mixed feelings about running, anxiety is a possible culprit.

Racing season is here! How to prevent the dreaded Trots?

  • Eat at least two hours before running. Aim for fiber-free carbs + protein. Go easy on the fat. Try: hard-boiled egg and white toast, bagel and nut butter, yogurt and banana.
  • Get to know your body. Berries and whole grain breads are chock-full of fiber, but they don’t bother me before a run. Experiment and learn what works for your body before, after, and during a run. Keeping a journal may help identify triggers.
  • Hydrate well and often, but also with caution. Drink up the day before a long run. Fluid is good before you head out, too, just take it easy. Drink slowly and moderately to avoid the sloshy feeling once you start. Sip along the way when you’re feeling thirsty. Water is best, as electrolyte drinks might exacerbate a cranky belly.
  • Beware the day before. If you’re sensitive, you might want to steer clear of possible trigger foods the day before you run. Common culprits include: cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale), beans, fried foods, dairy, caffeine, sugar-free products, and alcohol.
  • Commercial fuel may not be your friend. If you’re out there for a while, you might need some energy on the go. Gels, goos, chews, and bars don’t sit well with a lot of athletes. Be sure to take them with water, and if they don’t work for you, don’t fear! Try whole food alternatives made of simple carbs and sugars: pretzels, banana, sweet potato, honey packets, fig bar.

Keep calm and run on! Not everyone experiences running-related GI distress. Stress can only add to the risk. But if the feeling strikes, by all means find a restroom!