-- Marathon Running Information, Coaching and Advice from Coach Joe English

Tips #15 — Poop Before You Run

running-advice-bugI wrote an article a couple of weeks ago in which I gave 15 pieces of advice. I’m working my way through the list to explain where those pieces of sage information came from. This week’s tip was pulled, well, right out of my butt.

Tip #15 and 14: Poop before you run. You don’t want to risk pooping in your shorts during a race. THIS BEARS REPEATING.

Poop before you run. If you poop in your shorts, you risk being called “Shit Pants” and getting Depends for your birthday for the rest of your life.

There’s a serious issue here. Runners, and marathon runners in particular, are prone to needing to expel any mass in their bowels when they’re running. The reason is all that jiggling and bumping up and down. But (not pun intended) once the need to let it lose happens then they may find themselves in trouble for a couple of reasons. First, there may not be any place to place your deposit. Second, they may wait too long for fear of losing time on the clock and thinking they can “make it” to the finish. And third, they may start being overwhelmed by fatigue to the point that they can’t (or don’t) hold it in anymore.

On top of that, still being sort of serious, if diarrhea starts to creep into the picture the situation gets even worse. Runner’s Diarrhea is a real problem (click to read our two–part series). As dehydration sets in, diarrhea can really take off. (We even did a video in our series on this issue called “The Runs on the Run“.) The presence of liquid in stool makes it really hard (no pun intended) to keep in its place.

So all of this is the set-up to tell you two quick stories that gave rise to this piece of advice: make sure that you have gone poop before the race so that you don’t have to deal with it once the race has started. If you have to go, then stop and go. Don’t risk it, because when disaster strikes it is a real mess.

Story #1 — How are you doing? A Cautionary Tale — I was working in a marathon this past year that I shouldn’t identify (it was a Rock N Roll Marathon in Spain) and I came up a person jogging a long about mile 10. I ran up to him from behind and asked “How are you doing?”. He turned and looked at me with the presence of Winnie the Pooh’s friend Eeyore and said, “Fine. Except that I pooped my pants.” Without missing a beat I offered back, “Oh that happens to the best of us.” “Really,” he asked in a brightened kind of a way. I thought on this for a moment. “Did you really poop your pants?” I asked. But by the time the words were out of my mouth, I already knew the answer. Peering down I could see poop all down the backs of his legs. “Oh shit” I thought to myself. (No pun intended.)

I inquired to what had happened and it was the same sad story that I’ve heard time and again. “I needed to go, but I couldn’t find a Porta-Pottie,” he explained earnestly. “I thought that I could make it.” Unfortunately, you can only hold it so long and he went too long. This is like playing Russian Roulette. Each step is a spin of the wheel. Don’t play this game folks.

Story #2 — Carry a Hankie — My good friend Coach Dean tells this tale. He was racing in a marathon that shall also go nameless when the urge to purge became overwhelming. Now Coach Dean is prepared for anything and he also used to carry a hankie in case his nose would start to run. On this day, that hankie saved his life. Having not found a portable toilet, he finally dropped trou and pooped right on someone’s lawn. Then that hankie was sacrificed to clean up the mess. The hankie took one for the team. The hankie is now standard equipment for Dean.

As a side note, you never want to pick up a hankie on your lawn after a marathon.

Story #3 — Shit Pants — My sister was waiting for me to finish a marathon a long time ago. She said to one of my friends, “Hey look, she fell in some mud.” My friend considered this and responded, “Who? The chick in the red top and the shit pants?”

Don’t be shit pants people. Don’t take the risk. If you have problems in this area, make sure to address them. Don’t be another cautionary tale. If you have to go, you probably won’t make it. So make sure to go before and then don’t push your luck (no pun intended) and go as soon as you can.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News


One response so far, want to say something?

  1. 1. Wed, Dec 5 | December 5th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    […] I’ve never met a constipated endurance runner. Regardless, it bears repeating: Poop before you run. […]

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