Runner’s diarrhea is also known as runner’s trots. It is a condition that often affects distance runners and is characterized by loose bowel movements during or directly following a run. The bloating, cramping, and diarrhea associated with this condition affects more than 30 percent of distance runners.
The following strategies may help ensure that on race day the only thing you will be running for is the finish line:
Keep a diary: You should record when and what you ate the night before long runs and also the morning of long runs. Also, record how your stomach responded. It may be beneficial to make small changes such as: If you consumed two cups of coffee, next time have one. If you used the bathroom once, try twice. If you ate something two hours prior to a long run, eat something three hours prior.
Practice: It has been suggested that approximately 70 to 80 percent of marathon runners who do not practice eating during training will most likely get runner’s trots.
Think about pills: You should never take ibuprofen or aspirin prior to or during an event because it affects kidney function. It may, however, calm your bowels if you take one the night before.
Know the basics: You should avoid high-fiber food and fatty food for 24 hours prior to a race. High-fiber food passess much too quickly through your intestine, and fatty food is hard to digest. Lean protein and easily-digested carbs (white bread, white rice) are preferable.
You should consult a doctor specializing in runners or a sports dietician if your stomach gives you trouble during racing. Running may worsen conditions such as gastritis, colitis, celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or gluten sensitivity. A specialist will look for other issues such as inflammation, fatigue, or joint pain which may provide clues. If you test negative for these conditions, a sports dietician can thoroughly review your nutrition. If you provide a sports dietician with a food diary for the two days prior to race day, they may be able to identify foods that will work best for your metabolism and help you avoid getting runner’s trots.