Evacuation Complete.


Taro is right.

I’m just going to put it out there.
Everyone poops.
I said it.

Obvious. Crass. Juvenile. (Yup. All 3. ) It’s the truth though. Everyone does poop. I think runners may poop more than the general population but alas, that is simply my opinion. Get addicted to running and “eliminating” will become THE primary focus of your running experience and quite possibly your life.

Will I go?
Can I go?
Why won’t I just go?
What If I have to go?
I can’t go. Shit!
Where are the port-a-potties?

Who knew a basic biological function would cause such stress and extreme angst? It’s exhausting. I stumbled upon a terrific article in Outside Magazine about this critical topic. The article does a great job of discussing the issue from a biological perspective and highlights an interesting scientific study done on runners. Basically, when you run, your gut acts like a giant Shake Weight, churning and emulsifying the warm contents of your bowels with every foot strike until….OUCH!  Stab. Sweat beads. Pain. PANIC!  Emergency evacuation! It’s awful. And we’ve all been there at one time or another. The goal for my first marathon?

“I just wanna not shit my pants finish with dignity.”

True. Totally true. So how do we avoid the Bum’s Rush?

1. Poop before you leave. (Easier said than done for some, I realize.) Eat something. Drink a cup of coffee. That usually gets the show on the road. Adding contents to the top of the tract causes waves of contractions which moves contents down and out. Ride the wave!

2. Short loop, then poop. Do a short warm up lap around your neighborhood or past a public bathroom. Do your biz, then set out on your merry way. Or look for a nice fluffy bush. (I try and avoid that option. Peeing? Game on. I’d drop trou just about anywhere. I have no shame where public urination is involved. Hey at least I’m hydrated.)

3. Apple juice is not your friend. Avoid food and drink that decrease transit time (i.e. runs right through you). Coffee toes the line here. Although since I’ve never loaded up my water bottle with espresso or had a “coffee stop” at a race, pre-gaming with coffee is fine as long as the deed is done before heading out the door.

4. Take a chill pill. But do so at your own risk. You can take Imodium or other agents that increase transit time- but it’s a crap shoot. (Literally.) Slowing things down may help in the short term. Although one might feel like they’re a running time bomb, it could be worth the gamble. Keep in mind the pendulum may swing the other way and you could see a back up on I-95 for days.

At the end of the day, you have to do what works for YOU. Whether it’s drinking coffee, avoiding fiber, taking Imodium, hitting the loo on the road or not eating 2 hours before, you’ll eventually develop your very own Poop Schedule. And that will make all the difference.

Happy Running!


10 thoughts on “Evacuation Complete.

  1. Great tips…and quips! I’m laughing like a 10 year old boy at your puns.
    Not enough training plans address this aspect, which can be as hard to manage in distance running as keeping your achilles limber. Off to read the article!
    I will never look at a shake weight ad the same way again.

    • Totally puntastic. :-). The article was good, as was the journal article. Most is really common sense. Obviously you’re not going out for a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast pre-long run. However, lots of runners have this issue and for some it prevents them from getting out of their comfort zone and running longer for fear of disaster. Poop schedule. Get on it. (This has been a public service announcement. )

  2. The best advice I got from my high school basketball coach: “Before every game, do the three Ss–Shit, Shower, and Shave–not necessarily in that order. I don’t want a bunch of foul smelling hippies stinking up the gym. And if you fart, I’ll kill you.” We were too scared to burst out laughing, but being boys, we sure wanted to.

    • And for that I thank you kindly. 🙂

      It kind of struck me as funny actually. I have come across quite a few “Help!” questions and articles pertaining to this subject a lot lately. Gotta be something in the air….or water…..

  3. Oh, this is a never ending source of distress for me! I do everything I’m supposed to and then all of a sudden there’s a red alert….imminent code brown… I just don’t want to end up as a meme somewhere…

    Hilarious! PS that link to outside magazine doesn’t work… 😦

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