After a long run, there are a few things that are nearly religious to me: A hot magnesium bath (I’m currently obsessed with Taryn Toomey’s Pursoma soak), ice-cold water spiked with a hydrating Nuun tablet, and, to be totally honest, a trip to the bathroom. Usually it’s a numero uno, but listen, number twos happen too—especially after long sweat seshes. I know I’m not alone in this bathroom behavior, so if you too have ever experienced the need to poop after a run—specifically, if those runs were diarrhea—pay attention to new research, which suggests cause may be all in your head, Runner’s World reports.
A runner’s level of perceived stress or anxiety had the strongest correlation to GI issues such as flatulence and mid-run bathroom stops.
The study, published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, found that runners’ stomach or gastrointestinal issues during and after training runs and in races were linked to their individual levels of stress and anxiety. The subjects—76 women and 74 men between the ages of 18 and 65—were instructed to keep a detailed journal for 30 days chronicling their exercise duration and intensity, levels of GI problems and/or stress, as well as general stress and anxiety levels.
Although a run’s intensity showed a link to GI issues like flatulence (no LOLing—it’s natural, folks!) and mid-run bathroom stops, the results also illuminated that a runner’s level of perceived stress or anxiety had the strongest correlation to those same GI issues. Physical indicators previously thought to contribute to the stomach issues—such as coffee, medication, and mid-run eats—had less of an association than expected, notably lower than the amount stress and anxiety factored in.
But if you’ve had stomach issues in the past or have experienced GI distress while blazing the trails (or anywhere else), it’s possible that that your post-run runs are due to a different condition, especially given the small sample size of the study. Due to this, you may benefit from checking out your symptoms with a doctor.
Additionally, try keeping a journal of your days, like the study’s participants did, to see if you have an obvious bathroom correlation. Just think of it as something else to track in your chic planner.