How do I avoid runner's trots? - Women's Running

How do I avoid runner’s trots?

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  May 23, 2022

Runner's trots are the last thing we want to think about on our run. We get expert advice on how to avoid them.

We runners have enough to think about mid-run, without having to locate a nearby loo. Runner’s trots (the urgency to do a number two during or directly after your run, ICYMI) is a very common phenomenon.

There are a number of factors that might be contributing to the issue, and most of these are nutritional. We talk to Gemma Hurditch, from the College of Naturopathic Medicine, to find out how we can prevent it.

Reduce caffeine

Yes, coffee does usually stimulate your bowels, and the added agitation caused by running around can encourage the desire to go. If this is a problem for you, avoid caffeine such as tea, coffee, cola, chocolate and energy drinks for 4 hours prior to your run.

Limit dairy

Milky coffee is probably the worst thing for runners’ trots, but dairy on its own can also be problematic. The jostling of the bowels from a vigorous workout or run can exacerbate any underlying issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance or leaky gut.

Avoid dairy foods such as milk, cheese and ice cream for 4 hours prior to your run. Try alternatives such as almond or hemp milk. Additionally, the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG has been found to shorten episodes of gastrointestinal symptoms in marathon runners. It also helps with IBS and improves gut health, so certainly a supplement worth investigating.

Time your fibre intake

High fibre foods such as whole-grains, vegetables and berries are fantastic for overall health. But eating them pre-run may not be a good idea. Transit time varies from person to person, so you may need to experiment a bit with when best to eat them to avoid runner’s trots.

If you run first thing in the morning, for example, it may be best to have plenty of fibre-rich foods right after your run rather than before. You might also need to take it easy on the fibre and fat during your evening meal. This may not be the case for everyone, so see what works for you.

The health benefits of a high fibre diet are well-documented, so ditching it is not a good idea. 30g of fibre a day is the minimum recommended and plant foods are where its at. There are loads of resources online to help you understand the fibre content of foods to get your quota in, anything over 7 grams a serve is considered ‘high fibre’.

Ditch artificial sweeteners

If you are running for weight-loss and eating ‘sugar-free’ foods you may be ingesting various artificial sweeteners. You might not even be aware of the sweeteners in your commonly consumed items, such as chewing gum, so check labels.

Most artificial sweeteners and alcohol sugars such as sorbitol are bowel irritants. They are also undesirable in a natural diet, so ditch them and go for a little natural sweetness from honey or maple syrup.

Spice is not so nice

It’s best to avoid too much heat before your run, particularly as it can irritate the bowels. Chilli sauce, spicy curries, even garlic and ginger, if you’re particularly sensitive, are best avoided until after your run. Remember that if you eat them the night before your run, they may still be having an effect on your digestive system the next day.

About the author

Gemma Hurditch is a naturopath and medical herbalist for the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM).

Want to learn more about nutrition and wellbeing? Study to become a Health Coach with CNM.

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Want more advice from CNM? Here’s why you don’t feel hungry after your run – and how to refuel correctly

Women's Running Magazine

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