TMI - the Paula effect: I really do wish I didn... - Couch to 5K

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TMI - the Paula effect

sheps profile image

I really do wish I didn't have to ask this because it truly is more information than anyone needs to know about someone else - but it is becoming a problem. I know I'm not the only one to suffer but the googling talks about marathon runners suffering and 30 minutes can hardly be termed a marathon. My route takes me out then back past my house - it avoids the serious hills that I haven't yet come to terms with. But for the last two outings I have had to stop - I mean rEALLly had to stop - I could run no further because of digestive problems. I would have been in a seriously embarrassing condition had I run further and thank all available deities that my house was there. This was after only ten minutes of running.

It was at the same time of day as my previous runs (early morning) - no change that I can think of.

I was planning a park run on Saturday but there is no way I am going to run in public with no escape.

Is there anyone else prepared to admit to this or at least to invent a friend who has had and solved the problem?

I have just invented a whole new shade of runner's pink - it could be called "Blush".

19 Replies
KimLoulou profile image

Sorry cannot help! Thankfully

Oldfloss profile image

There was a post on this a while ago.. I think it is not an uncommon thing...there are literally loads of information sites about this very thing.. so worry not..

Just one of hundreds...:)

I think many folk would find it hard to talk about, but we are all friends here.. :) I always, have to have two pees. before I leave the house.. one before shoes on ,and one after! Insane..but I know I would need to stop otherwise!! Husband thinks it hilarious !

Maybe surf round the net a bit... and see what you can find may just have a little bug thing going on..which will clear anyway... :) And maybe there will be some useful replies too :)

I like the new shade.. Blush... :) Hopefully this will sort :)


If it happened to Paula, we could not be in better company :)

sheps profile image
shepsGraduate in reply to Oldfloss

Thanks to both of you - KimLouLou for recognising that is something not to be shared, and OldFloss for the usual sympathy and sound words.

RebeccaSK profile image
RebeccaSKGraduate in reply to Oldfloss

Ha! I have exactly the same two pee routine! I'll come in, go upstairs to say hello to hubby, have a wee upstairs. Get changed, go downstairs and have another pee whilst I sit on the loo and put my trainers on!

damienair profile image

I started C25K in April and graduated in June. I ran hassle free. Then in August I started having some issues. If I had not had a bowl movement before going for a run, a run would bring one on. I too was nervous about running too far away from home just in case. I had to abandon a couple of runs and a Parkrun because of this issue. I also started to notice blood on my stool.

I went to a GP and was referred to a Surgeon. The problem then resolved itself before I had a procedure. I had a Colonoscopy 3 weeks ago and thankfully all was OK.

So I am back to 10K training again.


sheps profile image
shepsGraduate in reply to damienair

Very glad to hear that all is well, Damien. That is a useful warning for me. I will be very aware following that.

Hidden profile image

Not squeamish here! Everybody ‘goes’, don’t they? I haven’t encountered this problem myself (yet) but I read about it in this month’s Runner’s World magazine. (There was a whole section on embarrassing running problems.)

I am assuming from your post you were talking about bowel issues, as opposed to bladder ones.

Mornings are probably worse for digestive issues than later in the day because that’s when most people naturally ‘go’. Running jiggles innards about and also the diversion of blood flow to your legs to keep you running along can cause stomach cramping.

Do you drink coffee before your run at all? Because that won’t help with any bowel issues. Nor will artificial sweeteners. On saying that, you could use caffeine to your advantage and drink coffee to make yourself go before your run.

The advice in the magazine is to eat more fibre and try and get your system working in a reliable clockworky fashion, to go before you run, or try something like Imodium.

Please don’t be embarrassed. Like I said, everyone goes to to the loo. It’s just a normal human bodily function.

Kallyfudge profile image

Also maybe try and track what you have eaten and drunk before you run, some things might be disagreeing with you as you run. Maybe if you have a list of things you can work out what is causing it. I avoid very hot (spicy) food the day before. It's nothing to be embarrassed about!

sheps profile image

It's normal when it is in your control and not causing you to worry about whether you can get home in time! Not so much for those two times when I have been near to total embarrassment. However, thank you for your kind words. I don't have coffee before I go out - in fact, no coffee since the previous morning.

Hidden profile image
Hidden in reply to sheps

No, I get that, and I can understand that the experience must be a bit traumatising for you. I was just saying that it’s fine to talk about it. 🙂

Like Kallyfudge says, maybe keep a food diary for a bit and see if you can spot any patterns.

sheps profile image

Thank you.

I am certainly trying to be aware of what might be going on and keeping a written account sounds like a good idea.

The problem too, is that once this has started happening you feel anxious, and the elimination of bodily matter is a natural response to anxiety.. So you could get a bit of a self fulfilling prophesy going on. I agree, keep a diary of what you are eating but also maybe wait until you have had a poo before setting out. Do this a few times and see if you can start to take some control by visualising or doing some warm up exercise at home. Some people have very regular bowel habits others, less so. You maybe able to start training yourself to always go before you run. Good luck- and well done for raising this issue :)

sheps profile image

Yep, I do that - this is No2 No2. Most unfair - I'm just going to have to wait until later which is not good for the morning routine.

Millsie-J profile image

Always use the bathroom before you run. If you know you have a particular bathroom routine this is even more important when planning your run.

I know not to run after we have had a night out at a curry house for example.

Many runners have a coffee to help them use the bathroom before they run.

I am sure this will all settle 👍🏼

Coddfish profile image

Unfortunately when you run you produce adrenaline, and needing a poo is one of the consequences of adrenaline. My niece has a very fast dog of the sort that needs to gallop and she (the dog, not the niece!j goes all the time when she is galloping.

So think precautions. Eating at least an hour before you go out. Sticking to foods you have relatively less problem with. Making yourself go to the loo before you go out (for a morning run I make myself go 3 times before I leave the house). Knowing where all possible external options are (public loos or otherwise). Not going commando. Wearing dark coloured clothes.

If the worst comes to the worst it's very unlikely anyone else will notice.

Good luck

No real advice beyond keeping a food diary and trying to go before you go. I'm fortunate enough to be a country runner so my "bear dna" doesn't cause too many problems (usually happens after 5k if it's going to). If I'm doing an event I usually take an Immodium or similar just to be on the safe side.

Anniemurph profile image

It's a very common problem, don't worry. I will not leave the house for a run unless 'regular daily health' has occurred, as my teacher used to call it (went to a very old fashioned girls' school :D ) - i.e. I've had a poo. I will reschedule runs if not because I know after about 15 minutes I will need to go - urgently. It's something to do with the regular motion (ha!). Everyone else on here has made good suggestions and I don't have anything more to add except that if you are in the countryside, take tissues and a sealable sandwich bag with you, and if you are in town, know where the loos are round your route. But don't let it put you off running!

sheps profile image

"Regular daily health!" Don't you just love it? I'm just going to have to get used to running a little later in the day once I am sure that everything that needs to happen, has happened. That, and to have my pockets stuffed with tissues.

RebeccaSK profile image

I will not run unless I've been immediately before. This is another reason why I rarely run first thing in the morning but I do have a little trick that gets me through Parkrun. I will have a glass, or maybe two, of wine the evening before an early morning run (ok, I know parkrun isn't early for many people, but it is for me!) and this encourages me to have a poo first thing. I don't drink any more than that before a run as I think it would be counterproductive - but a couple of glasses is just fine. However, again, for the same reason you describe, I have to get up 90 minutes before I run to get my digestive system working and encourage movement. I will never be one of those people who can just jump out of bed and go for a run - because half way round............

I read quite a few running books and this is so common but everyone seems to find a way around it so I'm sure you will in time.

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