How to Avoid a Number Two During a One Performance

There is a children’s book entitled, “Everybody Poops.” The statement seems obvious, but it is a biological truth we may wish to ignore or at least not mention. For runners, poop is a reality and can be a factor in one’s performance.

Tamara Torlakson attained a certain level of internet fame when she pooped her pants midway through a marathon. It sounds like an embarrassing accident many would place in the “worst nightmare category,” but it wasn’t an accident.

Torlakson realized she needed to go but refused to stop. She was close to a personal record. Stopping would have jeopardized her momentum, so she said she focused and relieved herself into the built-in underwear of the shorts she was wearing.

For 13 more miles, she maintained her pace and obtained her PR. At the finish line, she announced, “I pooped my pants!”

Mixed Reactions

Fellow runners responded to the story with understanding and admiration while non-runners were somewhat baffled and in some cases, shocked. Many runners have had to choose between stopping or soiling one’s shorts, but not many are as unabashed and determined as Torlakson.

Why Running Can Prompt You to Poop

The action of running creates movement inside the body, jostling organs and intestines. Blood is sent from the digestive tract to the exercising muscles causing changes in intestinal hormones that alter transit time and absorption.

Other factors to consider are dehydration, previous meals, and race-day gels with lactose or fructose that can be difficult to digest. Some other triggers can be wheat, gluten, soy, caffeine, and eggs.

Another thing that may change your bathroom habits is nerves. If you feel jittery before a race, it could affect your bowel habits. Try to relax and take some deep breaths.

Eating and drinking too quickly can lead to a quicker bathroom break than desired. When you eat fast, you often take in excess air, leading to cramps, bloating, and other unsavory results.

What to Do to Avoid the Poo

There are several simple ways to prevent having to poo during a race. It is a good idea to keep track of what you eat and how your body reacts, so you can avoid food triggers before a marathon.


The movement created by your body running shakes you up inside, but proper form can decrease a lot of the internal jostling. Improving form will also improve your performance. To decrease the jostling, minimize vertical oscillation, which is the bouncing up and down during your run.

It can be difficult to assess your form on your own. An experienced running coach can help you determine whether you need to make changes to your form and can incorporate exercises to naturally limit your bounce. The running coaches at Personal Running Solutions can help you limit the bounce to ideally limit the bathroom issues.

Get on a Schedule

If you can get on a regular schedule with the number two occurring a few hours before a race, you won’t have much food left in your system to worry about.

Fat, Fiber, and Caffeine

Limiting fat, fiber and caffeine can help curtail bathroom interruption. Fat slows your digestion and makes the process harder. Fiber is great when you are training, but when it comes to races, it can make you more prone to diarrhea. Cutting down on fat and fiber a few days before a race can help you avoid running a crappy race.

Caffeine may be a way you speed your body up when waking up, but it also speeds things up when it comes to digestion. As a result, avoid coffee right before a race. You can still have it but have it early so it can help you empty your bowels when it is convenient.

These are just a few ways to prevent potty mishaps during races. If you are having difficulties when it comes to running, other runners are always a good resource, and if you can’t find relief from a specific problem, consult with a doctor. We hope everyone can run without having the runs.

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