Runner Struggles: Runner’s Trots

Guys, I’ve been struggling. I’ve been going back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to share my story, and make myself vulnerable. But I’ve decided to let down my walls, put on a brave face, soldier forth, and put it out there for all to judge. Because, quite frankly, it’s pretty fricking funny. 

I’m talkin’ ’bout shittin’ your pants on a run. 

If you’re a runner, and you’ve never experienced the humiliation of pooping yourself while on a run, or, at the very least, felt the fear of possibly pooping yourself on a run, then you are a liar liar, and I hope your pants catch fire. 

The phenomenon of getting diarrhea while running is so common it’s been coined, “Runner’s Trots.” Doesn’t that sound cute? It sounds like you’re just trotting out to fetch your mail or just trotting down the street on a fun little jaunt when it really means your digestive waste is trotting its way down your colon, and will make an appearance at some point during your run (usually when a bathroom is conveniently out of reach).  

Guys, I HAVE BEEN AFFLICTED WITH THIS CONDITION. Four times, to be exact. The most recent bout cropped up when I trained for the Best Damn Race Orlando 10K (plug it in, plug it in). It was confusing. It was harrowing. I wanted to shake my fist at the sky, beat my breast, and scream, “WHY GOD? WHYYYYYYYYYY????!!!!!!!!” (Spoiler alert: the cause was some crockpot Mexican chicken I had been eating on for the past couple of days.)

Runner’s Diarrhea is a sneaky bastard. In my case, the stomach rumbles and grumbles started about 5 minutes or so into my run. My first thought was to ignore it. For me, it’s not uncommon for the urge to surface when I first begin a run, and it usually goes away after a few minutes.

For awhile, it worked! I happily made my way through my running intervals while jamming out to my custom “Sarah’s Ultimate Running” playlist on Spotify. Then, about 10 minutes into my run, it stopped working. The rumbles and grumbles became more persistent. I slowed down to a walk, thinking the slower movement would settle things down. 

It didn’t. 

The rumbles and grumbles continued, growing from small staccatos to full-fledged drumming on the inside of my large intestine. The jig was up; I had to get to a bathroom. I began re-tracing my steps back home. Then, I felt it. You know what I’m talking about. It. The prairie dog. 

“Okay, body,” I said out loud as I picked up the pace, “keep it together. We’re almost home, and you can go then. But not before then. NOT BEFORE. WE’RE IN PUBLIC.” Sure, it was 5:30 in the morning. Sure, nobody else was around to witness the inevitable. But I just couldn’t succumb to that fate. I was 34 years old. I was too old to poop my pants.

But the universe had other plans. The prairie dog was becoming more vigorous. I clenched and walked as fast as I could, but alas – I could not keep on fighting the good fight. 

I shat myself. 

I don’t think there is any word, or group of words, in the English language adequate enough to describe the utter humiliation and sense of failure you feel when you shit your pants as an adult. The range of thoughts go from, “Is this really happening?” to, “Oh no, I think it’s going to happen,: to “OH GOD IT’S HAPPENING HELP ME GOD PLEASE HELP ME.” 

Then, finally, you just accept it.


And continue the walk of shame either back to your place, or to the nearest bathroom, humbled and defeated. 

So what inspired me – nay, gave me the courage – to share this story on my blog? Two words: Paula Radcliffe. Okay, three more words: 2005 London Marathon. Homegirl dropped trou and pooped in the street (the video says she’s peeing, but trust: she is in fact pooping – look it up if you don’t believe me):

Guys, when you are a professional runner, and your job is to win races, you don’t have the luxury of finding a toilet. Your sponsorship with Nike is on the line. So you clench your jaw, ignore the cameras, and shit in the street in full view of the public like the CHAMPION YOU ARE. And you know what? She went on to win that race, illustrating that you can indeed triumph over any obstacles, poo-related or non. Nobody – even elite athletes – are exempt from Runner’s Trots. In my case, I can take comfort in the fact that at least I wasn’t being filmed. 


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