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Why Does Running Make Me Have to Pee?

You Asked: Why Does Running Make Me Have to "Go?"

You're asking and I'm answering.

"Fit. I've recently started running but I've noticed an unpleasant side effect. A few times I've had to get off the treadmill and run to the bathroom. It's totally embarrassing to me; please tell me it's normal."
Running to Restroom

Great question and I love when readers pose slightly embarrassing questions because it always provides a small sigh of relief for everyone to read it and say, "I'm not alone." Needing to go is a very common issue among runners; let's just say that the abundance of port-o-potties at marathons are not for the spectator's use.

Here is the thing: The up and down motion of running can irritate the intestines and make us have the urge to go. When I first started running I had this very same problem, and I know that having to stop halfway through a run can be very discouraging to someone trying to build up endurance. For an expert's advice on how to deal I turned to WedMD:

Gastroenterologist David Bjorkman, MD, dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, recommends eating at least two hours before a run. Caffeine can speed the movement of wastes through your system, and artificial sweeteners (such as mannitol and sorbitol), which are often found in energy bars, can cause GI distress. Although it's not wise to have a bran muffin before a race, Dr. Bjorkman says to incorporate more fiber in your diet (work up to 20 grams a day). "Adding fiber can make you more regular. You can get your system to operate like clockwork, so that you can reliably go before a run."

From my own experience all of the above holds true, but I've also found that timing is critical. For example, if you typically hit the restroom first thing in the morning, then an a.m. run may not be the best option. Also, it's a good idea to always try to use the bathroom before you run.

You're definitely not alone and hopefully, with a little tweaking of your diet and timing, the only urge you'll feel is to run longer.

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
Merlin713 Merlin713 9 years
Wow, I have this problem too, but I also have ulcerative colitis. You can probably figure out that I only work out indoors unless I'm on a bike or something I can move very fast if need be.
cmd0610 cmd0610 9 years
I get this problem just about every run. So that's 6 days a week, every week of every year since I was 14 (11yrs now!) and it hasn't gone away/been solved/ameliorated with time- just like Spectra I plan my routes around where I know the bathrooms are . . . it's so great to know I"m not alone!
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
I don't have this problem, but I do experience an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach after runs 4 miles and longer. I just feel bloated and full of air...anybody else get this problem?
NatureMadeLisa NatureMadeLisa 9 years
I've definately had this problem. I also tend to dehydrate faster b
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
I haven't had this problem in a long time. I usually go in the mornings, and jog in the evenings, so I haven't encounter this issue.
Dublin62505 Dublin62505 9 years
I read an article in Runner's World about how running exacerbates incontinence. Women in particular, have experienced a complete emptying of their bladder w/out warning while in the midst of running. It is also fairly common in younger athletes. They say it is from an increase in abdominal pressure and the impact is transferred to the bladder.
chameleon7 chameleon7 9 years
To those that are not familiar with the name, it is commonly known as runner's diarrhea.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I suffer from this as well. I plan my running routes around places with public restrooms for this reason. Usually, I go before running, but because I eat a really high fiber diet I usually have to go AGAIN mid-run (especially since my runs are usually 10 miles or so). I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only person that suffers from this either!
Tassie Tassie 9 years
I used to get this too, particularly in the mornings, though I think I got over it in a couple of weeks of semi-regular running. Now I run to a park near my place with bathrooms, or stay close-ish to home, just in case. Doesn't happen as often as when I started, but I'd prefer not to be caught short at all!
wondermit wondermit 9 years
Thank you for asking! I've been choosing the elliptical over the treadmill because of the same issue.
alethia037 alethia037 9 years
Funny, I was thinking about asking this same question today!
bisou002 bisou002 9 years
the worst was when i was running a 5K with an injured knee and i had a stomach attack...i just started to walk. i mean, i was already in pain. and after abouut 5 minutes of walking, the stomach ickiness had disappeared and i only finished 2 minutes slower than my previous race.
Emdance Emdance 9 years
OH man I have this problem all the time, you are definately not a lone. And althought the above tips are great. I am so irregular that I can never predict!
adelka adelka 9 years
I ran my fastest 10K ever because of this, lol. Picked up the pace to get to the finish and the bathroom!!
0danielle0 0danielle0 9 years
This happened to me last night AND last week. Ugh. I really didn't think I was going to make it home in time. Horrible feeling!
chellis66 chellis66 9 years
I use the bathroom every morning at 5AM right before I run. I'm not sure if just became regular to me, but I can't run unless I've expelled first. LOL
imcs imcs 9 years
OMG... I must share... I went running one morning very early in a residential area of Miami (in other words - not a restaurant, cafe, BATHROOM in sight) when suddenly I got the urge to go - and I was already very far away from my house. I wanted to die... it had never happened before and hasn't happened since. But I know exactly how it feels. I've never "ran" home so quickly since.
saradee saradee 9 years
i definitely encountered this problem during my morning jog today :P
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