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Let's cut the crap: Running makes you poop — here's why

Sometimes you just gotta go.
Why Does Running Make You Poop
Photo: iStock

A woman dubbed “The Mad Pooper” has been terrorizing a Colorado neighborhood for the past couple of months.

Colorado Springs homeowner Cathy Budde says the woman has been defecating near her home at least once a week — and even popped a squat when Budde’s children were nearby.

"They are like, 'There's a lady taking a poop!' So I come outside, and I'm like ... 'are you serious?'" Budde told KKTV 11. "'Are you really taking a poop right here in front of my kids!?' She's like, 'Yeah, sorry!'”

While pooping out in the open isn’t common, the urge to go mid-run is — and it happens to people of all ages, genders and abilities.

"In some studies up to 80 percent of runners experienced GI disturbance, including abdominal pain and bowel dysfunction," gastroenterologist James Lee, M.D., of St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange, California, told Shape.

Even elite runners experience it: British long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe had to drop trou in front of thousands during the 2005 London marathon; she still won.

Why does running make you poop?

There isn’t just one reason why it happens.

A 2012 study on runners showed that those with gastrointestinal problems were more likely to experience issues while training, but it also might be because the impact of running rustles up our organs a bit.

“What people don't know is that it can decrease the amount of blood flow occurring to the intestines, causing abdominal cramping and potentially the urge to defecate," Christopher P. Hogrefe, M.D., a sports medicine physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, told Shape.

Hormones — like what women experience during menstruation — and running is known to affect the mucosal permeability of our intestinal linings, leading to softer stool and the urge to go.

How to avoid pooping during a run

Going to the bathroom right before you hit the pavement is one way to cut down on the mid-run runs. Eating two or three hours before your run can help, too — it gives your body the chance to digest the food — and avoid medications like ibuprofen and aspirin because they can affect your intestinal lining.

It’s also a good idea to cut out certain foods if you have a run on tap: A 2014 review of medical studies found that high-fiber and high-fructose foods can affect your GI tract during runs. Dehydration is also known to cause problems, so make sure you’re well hydrated before and during the race.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to 100 percent stop a mid-run bathroom break, especially for those with chronic inflammatory illnesses like Crohn’s Disease, so knowing where the public bathrooms are along your route is crucial.

However, it doesn’t sound like The Mad Pooper cares where those public pooping places are located.

"There's plenty of public restrooms less than a block away from where she's targeting,” Budde told the news station of the still-unidentified woman. “This is intentional."

 
 
 
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