Just so we are on the same page: everybody poops.

But, it is also true that most people don’t want to talk about it—apart from GI doctors, people like the one I recently watched in a colonic sales pitch video, and brave souls like me who will pave the way… even if it’s awkward. 

In order to break the ice, I will share my most recent embarrassing poop story. Please keep reading—I promise it is not graphic. 😉

I, like many runners, often suffer from a much needed bathroom stop during my run. This is especially true when my body is out of whack (like post a Mexican vacation). So, last week after a couple miles I popped in the local Kwik Trip for a pit stop. After taking care of my business I was filled with horror when I realized that the toilet would not flush. I am not a  plumber, but I did try all of the things I knew… with no luck. I was filled with dread as I side-eyed the “our bathroom needs something” switch. And then I quickly washed my hands and cowardly fled… without flipping it. 

If you know me, you know I am not a serious rule follower, but I did suffer from a fair amount of guilt for not following the protocol put in place for these exact kinds of situations. I eventually felt like I had no choice but to forgive myself, and went on my run and my day with only me, Jamie, and God knowing the truth. 

Well, I had a chance to redeem myself. A couple days later around the same time, I had to stop in the same bathroom. The toilet showed all signs of being fixed, including the evidence that it had recently been flushed. So, I did what I needed to do with confidence. But… it would not flush. Again. Honestly, my gut reaction was irritation at their lack of figuring it out after the situation two days ago. And then I was filled again with embarrassment. 

I wish I could report that I flipped the switch. But, you know I value honesty… and… I chickened out. Again. 

I really, really hope that toilet it fixed next week. 

If you stayed for that whole story then congratulations, you made it to some actually useful information!

Now, time for your own reflection— does number two work for you?

I know a lot of us are runners. If you suffer from GI discomfort or distress while exercising or after, I suggest you read this article. It says it all way better than I can anyway, straight from a GI doctor. 

Bathroom stops while running used to be a must for me. Thankfully, by working with a nutritionist I have been able to skip them most of the time while training in my normal environment, and have been able to fully avoid the issue while racing. 

A few anecdotal tips that work for me, that may help you:  

Eating a little less, giving a little extra digestion time before a run/workout, and avoiding too much fat before runs. I used to have a full breakfast an hour before a run. Cutting it in half, and having more calories post-run instead, helped my body not have as much of a digestion burden while running. It also helps when I can allow a little more time to be able to go to the bathroom before I workout. I play with the timing, amount, and what I eat surrounding all of the different workouts I do (swim, bike, run, strength).

Limiting fiber 2-3 days before racing. I don’t do this daily, as I know that a high fiber diet is essential to my overall health. So, I may have to keep the available bathroom locations in mind in order to support my gut, liver, heart, brain, etc. But, when preparing to race, I have realized I do best by almost eliminating fiber completely for two days. The same goes for other gut irritants like high fat or spicy foods.

Maybe you are lucky enough to have number 2 working for you while running, or you aren’t a runner. But, whether we are comfortable talking about it or not—our poop, and our habits around it, cannot be ignored to maximize our current health, and the longevity of our health span. 

A few simple tips on how you can you make number 2 always work for you:

Have awareness. Sure, poop is gross. But, I suggest you take daily note of the color, consistency, and frequency of it anyway. Changes often indicate overall changes in your body, including things as minor as something you ate showing itself, to serious matters. 

Do not ignore constipation! Pooping regularly is a healthy body process, even if what that means varies for each individual. I always suggest exploring the potential root causes of body processes gone awry, before using over-the-counter laxatives as bandaids (that can create a massive burden on your body in other ways.) Eat fiber and drink water!

Same goes for diarrhea, bloating, gas, or other GI symptoms. You don’t have to suffer or rely on an endless supply of Pepto. And, you want to make sure you are addressing the cause of these symptoms so that you absorb the important nutrients you are putting in your body. These can be red flags for many other illnesses.

Heed nature’s call. I know some of you will never use a public bathroom, so you cannot relate at all to my Kwik Trip debacle. But, very simply put, holding it is bad for your body. Try to avoid doing that!

Find a good doctor or dietician, one that will honor your desire to keep digging to find the origin of the issues, rather than keep piling up the bandaids. 

Like most things on health, this is a massive rabbit hole that we could head down for a long time. But, I am not a nutritionist or doctor, so I will leave that work to them. My biggest message today is to encourage you to be aware and honest about what is happening surrounding your poop

Everybody poops, you might as well make sure number 2 is working for you. 

See ya next time,