Dealing with the dreaded ‘runner’s trots’

It can happen to the best of us and is one of the most common running ailments - 220's experts Mark Kleanthous is here to break the taboo, and suggests how to control your bowel movements for a more pleasant run!


Believe it or not, ‘runner’s trots’ is a very common ailment among runners and triathletes!


No single factor has been identified as being the direct cause, but there are measures you can take to help prevent it:

– Fibre-rich foods are essential for healthy bowel movements, though if you’re vegetarian or regularly eat lots of brown rice, dried fruits and wholewheat bread you could be consuming too much fibre, so watch your intake. Instead, eat eggs, yoghurt or fresh fruit for breakfast rather than cereals and breads.

– Artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks, sweets, etc. can increase colon movement, so avoid them up to 90mins before you go for a run. Caffeine can also speed up colon movement, so avoid it 3-6hrs before running (some gels and bars contain caffeine, so check the ingredients).

Try to avoid caffeine or artificial sweeteners before a long run

– Never sit on the toilet seat and push hard as this will nearly always result in a problem during your run! Train your bowel movements so you can go to the toilet before you run – this is also good practice before competitions.

– Start off steady. If you fail to warm up or start too fast this can reduce blood flow to the gut by up to 80%. If you’re using a waist belt make sure it’s not too tight or pushing down on your stomach.

– Poor posture in the latter part of your run could be causing you problems, so improving your core fitness could help with this.

– Keep hydrated during longer runs. If you become dehydrated, your intestines won’t absorb food, which can cause diarrhoea.

– Bear in mind that heat can be a stressor. Pay extra attention to hydration in warm weather.           

– Finally, consider keeping a food diary and in the future eliminate suspicious foods before you run. 

…If you put some or all of these methods in place it won’t take long to establish what’s causing you to suffer with the dreaded trots!


How to ease gastrointestinal distress when racing

For more training and racing advice, head to the triathlon training section of our website