Best Ways To Avoid Runners Diarrhea

If you’re a runner you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not a runner, well, this is a real problem sometimes! It happens most often in long-distance runners and is categorized by having to use the washroom either frequently during or after running. The cause of runners diarrhea is unknown, but theories suggest that it has to do with the fact that blood rushes away from the intestines and to the muscles while we exercise, or it could be because the up and down movement of running can stimulate our bowels.

There are simple dietary changes that can help reduce the symptoms of runner’s diarrhea if you experience this often. See our list below!

Limit Fiber

If you’re about to run a race, start to reduce or avoid foods that have a lot of fiber in them at least a day before. Foods such as beans, bran, fruit and high-fiber salads can produce gas in the digestive track and cause discomfort or runner’s diarrhea.

Avoid Sugar

Same with fiber, avoid sugar at least a day prior to any big runs you may have. Sugar alcohol’s (which are most often found in sugar-free candies or ice cream) and artificial sweeteners can wreck havoc on your digestive system.

No Caffeine

At least 3-6 hours before running, avoid coffee or caffeinated beverages. Caffeine can upset the stomach, and if you combine it with running it can cause runners diarrhea very quickly.

Pre-Run Food

Avoid food at least 2 hours before you run. Your body then has time to digest whatever you ate, you’ll get the energy from the food and you’ll avoid runner’s diarrhea too!

Drink More Fluids

Being dehydrated can actually contribute to runner’s diarrhea (along with a large amount of water or fruit juice). Find a good amount of water that doesn’t upset your stomach and sip water throughout your run.

Test Supplements

If you plan on using energy supplements during a race, make sure you test them out during a run of your own beforehand. These supplements can often contribute to runner’s diarrhea so find ones that don’t upset your stomach before you start your race.

Track Your Diet

Sometime’s it could just come down to what you’re eating throughout the day! Keep track in a diary or something similar of what you eat and how you feel. It may be something you’ve never even considered!

Written by Mark Forge

Mark Forge is the founder of FatForge - an information website dedicated to busting nutrition myths, scams and lies while helping people turn their weight around. If you want to lose weight I suggest starting here.

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  1. I am a relatively healthy woman in my early 50’s. I have been long-distance running for about 30 years and I still struggle with runner’s diarrhea. It only happens to me during the run (sometimes more than one time). I am fine after I finish. It’s like my whole system gets emptied out.

    I am very good about drinking lots of water and getting good food in my system after I get back from a run. Also, I never have terrible cramping or stomach pain. I just suddenly have the urge to go and I have to find a hidden area immediately. (Usually no time to find a bathroom.) This doesn’t particularly bother me. My only concern is the health issues related to the diarrhea.

    Is this something I should be concerned about? I am wondering if I should give up running, which I love very much. I never have this problem with using an eliptical. Would love to hear from anyone who has advice on this (a doctor’s response would be ideal).

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