What is Runners Diarrhoea? Runner’s Diarrhoea also known as Runner’s trots or the gingerbread man is a quick onset of a bowel movement or discomfort experienced by runners during or immediately after a run; most commonly during long distant running. Although not spoken about openly it is common enough to happen in up to 25% of runners.
Symptoms: Typical symptoms are nausea, cramping, gas, reflux, the urge to have a bowel movement, and diarrhoea. Generally, symptoms are mild enough not to cause serious problems.
What causes it? There are multiple theories as to the cause trots to do with; exercise and its effect on blood flow to the intestines, electrolyte imbalance causing colon stimulation and intense exercise increasing the production of gastric hormones.
Speaking in plain terms, runner’s trots are often due to the stress of a long run or a high intensity workout, hydration status, and diet. Whatever the cause may be, there are adjustments in training, diet, and medication that may aid in providing symptom relief.
Management: Resolving runner’s trots can often be a cycle of trial and error. Wearing comfortable, loose fitting clothing when you run can provide some relief as tight clothing around the waist may aggravate diarrhoea. You might also consider reducing the intensity or distance of your runs until the diarrhoea improves. Then gradually increase your activity as your signs and symptoms allow.
Diet can play a major role in experiencing symptoms of trots. If trots are common to your running routine, start with thinking “plain” or “basic.” Consume a few pieces of toast or an energy bar a couple hours before a morning run. Add foods one at a time to have a much clearer understanding of which foods prompt trot symptoms. For example, a very common nutritional trigger of trots is lactose. Drink your glass of milk with caution before a morning run.
The following are more nutrition tips that may be helpful in preventing the onset of runner’s trots:
· Avoid eating within 2-3 hours of a run.
· Stay well hydrated. After running, drink plenty of fluids. Large volumes of water or juice can worsen diarrhoea, and warm drinks may as well.
· Limit lactose/dairy products before a run. However, chocolate milk may make for a great post run recovery drink.
· Limit foods that cause flatulence or loose stools.
· Avoid eating a high fibre meal before a run. Consider reducing the amount of fibre consumed in your days leading up to the run.
· Limit or avoid high fat foods and high sugar foods the meal before, even the night before your run.
· Limit or avoid caffeine before a run.
· Try eating foods that are naturally more constipating such as oatmeal, bananas, pasta, plain bagels, and rice.
· Keep in mind that heat is a stressor. Stay well hydrated during runs in warm weather conditions.