Guest Post: How to Run Without the Runs

While you’re reading this, I’m probably en route to the Outer Banks for Memorial Day. I don’t know what the Internet situation will be or how much time I’ll take away from the beach, so I have a few guest posts set up just in case I don’t have time to post.

The first one is from from the FABULOUS Ali. We first met in November at a blogger brunch at Ashley’s and quickly bonded over running, stomach issues, working for magazines and just generally being awesome. She’s an incredibly fast runner (she ran the National Half in 1:44) and her devotion to both running and happy hour are truly inspiring. What else is inspiring? She has Crohn’s Disease, and is raising money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation through the Run for the Rabbit program with JackRabbit. She thought it might look too self-promotional to link to her page, so I’m going to do it. Donate here to her if you are so inclined.

Hi Losing Weight in the City fans! Lovely to “meet” you. I’m Ali and I blog at Ali On The Run (


I’m excited to share with you all a little something on the topic of “Stomach issues suck, but you can have them and still be an awesome runner.”

When Theodora suggested a guest post about running with stomach issues, I jumped at it. I know that she’s had some tummy troubles, and so have I. She’s got IBS and I’ve got Crohn’s Disease — but we’re both runners, and neither of us have crapped our running pants yet. (Well, I haven’t…Theodora?) [Ed. note: No!!!]

I won’t lie to you and say that running with a digestive problem is no big deal. It’s a huge deal. I’ve had Crohn’s Disease — an autoimmune digestive disorder — since I was 7 years old. There are some days when I feel totally fine and there are other days when I can’t fathom leaving my apartment. My stomach can go from calm to the eye of the storm at a moment’s notice, and if a bathroom isn’t near, it’s a truly terrifying feeling.

How sexy is this post right now? Single men, eat your heart out. You know you want to date me and hear more about this.

Because there isn’t a cure for Crohn’s Disease and there’s no magic medicine that actually helps me, I’ve had to figure out a few ways to combat the stress associated with an unpredictable, uh, issue. Of course, stomach problems aren’t just for people with a diagnosis. Who out there hasn’t found themselves in a crappy (ha) situation while on the run?


Here are five “rules” I swear by that alleviate a bit of the anxiety I sometimes feel before hitting the road:

  1. Give yourself tons of time before you go for a run. I wake up 30–45 minutes before I need to start running in order to give myself plenty of time to eat (if it’s a longer run, otherwise I run on an empty stomach) and wake up my body. If I rush, I don’t have time for a few bathroom trips. And sometimes one trip to the bathroom isn’t sufficient. Sorry. It’s just not.
  2. Plan your route accordingly. I tend to run in Central Park more often than I run along the East River because I know that the Central Park path is flanked by bathrooms. I always know what my bathroom options are before I leave my apartment. The last thing you want is to be stuck on an open road, stomach cramping and screaming at you, with no bathroom in sight. Know where you can run that has a bathroom and stay in the area. Also check the hours the bathrooms are open. The Central Park bathrooms don’t often get unlocked until 7 am, so I keep that in mind when I run.
  3. Bring your own toilet paper on race day. No matter how early you get to the Porta Potties, you can never be guaranteed that they will still be stocked with TP. I learned that the hard way this weekend. (Link to Brooklyn Half recap if you want:
  4. Don’t care about what works for other people. Yeah, I say that as I write out these guidelines. I know a lot of people who eat a bagel or something before they run. That would never work for me. Just because “everyone” is eating a bagel with sunflower butter and banana (Love you, Theodora!) [Ed. note: I can’t eat that before a run, either! Just after.] doesn’t mean that will work for you. All I eat before running is a granola bar (and by granola I mean it’s basically a chocolate chip cookie in bar form, but I love it). Most people would say that’s not enough, but I say I’ve been doing it for years and I won’t change my ways. Stick with what works for you.
  5. Talk it out. You know what’s awesome about runners? There’s no such thing as too much information. Everyone has been there. Everyone understands. Don’t be afraid to share your story with other people in order to gain advice or at least feel better about your situation. (Because they’ve probably don’t something worse: I know people who have crapped behind a tree in public mid-run and I know at least one person who has, uh, let things happen in his/her pants while running. You know who you are.)

That’s it for my advice. Stomach issues suck and unfortunately there isn’t always much that can be done. Just be prepared and try not to stress too much.

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May your runs (ha) be comfortable and your bathroom issues be confined to the bathroom.

Do you have stomach issues when you run? (Or, just in life, like me and Ali?) What do you do to keep stomach issues under control while working out?


7 comments on “Guest Post: How to Run Without the Runs

  1. emmy

    WOW!! I am a runner (completed 4 half marathons and am training for my first full marathon) and I have Crohn’s Disease too!

    This post was amazing and refreshing and just great! It’s so nice to know there are other runners out there with the same issues I have!

  2. Margaret

    I’ve got UC and can so absolutely relate to calm one minute, and totally out of control the next. I can’t eat or drink a drop before a race starts. I work on de-stressing things like yoga to keep me calm, and just have an attitude to go with it. an Imodium AD the morning of a race, or the night before also helps.

  3. Dori

    Love this guest post!

    “Who out there hasn’t found themselves in a crappy (ha) situation while on the run?” — Me. I have not. Because I have the opposite type of digestive problem.

    Because of my own problems, all I can consume before a long run or half marathon is green juice, so Ali, I definitely think your granola bar is enough! You really have to do what works for you.

    You are so inspiring and so fast, and I know you will help many others by sharing your story.

    Also, that picture of you separated from the pack is the greatest race photo I have ever seen.

  4. Marathon Sweetheart

    So sorry to hear that you’ve had Chrons disease since childhood. I’m sure it can be exceptionally painful. There are surgical treatments for it, and I wonder if you’ve ever looked into that?

    Well, whenever my stomach starts to hurt during a run I immediately think about what I ate in the last 24 hours, specifically in the last 2. Sometimes, the culprit is spicy food, other times its TOO MUCH food. Either way, I make a mental note, hold and squeeze the part of my tummy that’s aching and I try to never make that same food mistake again 🙂

  5. Lindsay

    I have ibs and it can be such a nightmare immediately following a race! Still working on my “perfect fuel” but I makes me feel better knowing others have gotten through this obnoxious issue! Thanks for the post 🙂

    1. Theodora Post author

      YES! I usually bolt straight for the port-a-potties after a long race. Yesterday was actually the first time I didn’t, and that really surprised me, especially with that double-caffeine gel. I took two Immodium before I started because my stomach was upset, but that usually doesn’t stop my stomach from bothering me, unfortunately. I actually think the banana might have finally helped in calming my stomach down.


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