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Intestinal Distress While Running - Warning - Gross

michelem2010-05-02 01:36:51 +0000 #1
I apologize in advance for the gross topic, but I'm wondering if anyone else has dealt with this and if so how did you cure it?

I've always had digestive problems while running - this is part of the reason I like cycling so much more! The only time I don't have problems is if I haven't eaten anything or taken in much fluid the day of the run, and if I haven't eaten much in the days prior. Obviously, this is not good from the fueling aspect of things. Now that I am cycling and about to embark for 1/2 marathon training, I can't get away with skimping on the nutrition like that.

So, yesterday was my first run in well over a month. I ate hot cereal in the morning and pooped about 30 minutes later. Ate chicken and beef at lunch and again pooped about 30 minutes later. About 2 hrs. prior to my run (jog) I ate two rice cakes with cashew/macadamia nut butter and fruit spread. Right before heading out I pooped again. Set out on my jog. About a mile into it, had that old, familiar feeling of needing to poop! Unfortunately, there were no potty stops along my route and I was afraid to go in the bushes (poison ivy and snakes). I kept going and as the run wore on felt as though I might have gone a bit in my underwear - yuck! About one hour and six miles later I was certain of this. I walked in my front door and could smell it - UGH!

Went into the bathroom and pulled down my shorts to find a good amount of bloody diarrhea. Sat on the toilet and more blood came out. Bagged up the underwear in a ziploc, took a shower, and headed to Urgent Care. As they were about to close, they took a CBC blood draw and prescribed two heavy-duty antibiotics (Cipro and Flagyl) and told me to follow up with my primary doc today. I have an appointment later this morning. In the meantime, I had a small, solid poop this morning with what appeared to be a blood clot (about a 1/4 of the size of the poop) stuck to it. Other than that, I didn't go again during the night or this morning.

So, I am freaking out here because the symptoms that got my aunt in the hospital on Thanksgiving 2005 was bloody stool and vomiting blood. The next day she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had speread to her liver and she died in early February 2006.

However, a Google search last night revealed that diarrhea and bloody diarrhea is an occurance in distance runners. Come on though, six miles is not enough to be considered "distance" training is it?

Any words of wisdom are greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading.

mimitabby2010-05-02 01:45:23 +0000 #2
Here's a layman's opinion. I think 6 miles is definitely distance training. Most people would fall over after running 1 mile. 6 miles is REALLY hard work.

two; running is one of the most stressful forms of exercise there is. When your body is stressed, it goes into EVACUATE mode. and so your body does that; your intestines want to empty and if you really get going, you're going to vomit because you're carrying extra weight in that full stomach. Those are responses that echo the deep deep past of our genetic programming.

Having said that; go to the doctor. i don't like the sound of this blood stuff.

Urgent care is great; but now go to an Internist and get more than symptoms treated. good luck.
Tri Girl2010-05-02 02:13:33 +0000 #3
I'm sorry about your situation- not very fun.

OK- I don't have personal experience with this, but my running partner does. She basically has the same symptoms you had. It'll hit her very suddenly, and if she doesn't go right then- well... it's coming no matter what.

After having testing done and nothing serious being wrong- she's figured out that it's the pavement that kills her intestinal system. She runs ultra-marathons on trails, but can't even run 3 miles on pavement without serious potty problems. On soft surfaces she experiences nothing, but pavement has her bleeding and in dreadful intestinal distress.

If all the tests come back OK and there's nothing seriously wrong- then maybe it's a running surface issue. ????? Just guessing here as that's the case for my friend.

Hope you get it resolved soon!
Dianyla2010-05-02 02:07:41 +0000 #4
Runners trots is very common, but I'd be very concerned about the bloody diarrhea. Definitely get that checked out to make sure there is no pathology there. Also, make sure to eat lots of yogurt or take probiotics once you're done with the course of antibiotics to rebalance your body's flora.

If it turns out to be that you just always get bloody diarrhea as a result of running... well, I'm not sure how much it's worth to you to do that kind of exercise. KWIM?
LBTC2010-05-02 02:35:18 +0000 #5

That sounds awful, but thank you for posting for us. You're talking about things that many don't, so talking about it is good!

Intestinal problems can be caused by soooooo many things, so don't get worried about cancer, okay? Get tests done by your doc and specialists. Rule out the scary stuff first, then look for other causes.

I've been dealing with some intenstinal problems myself for over a year. The docs think it is Crohn's, but too mild to treat (the drugs are really toxic), which has forced me to see other health care professionals. I'm eating gluten-free, dairy-free, pork-free, limited sugar, corn, etc. (most of the time this is not as hard as it sounds)

I've also seen and had success with an integrated massage therapist (an osteopath would know the same stuff, I think), a naturopathic practitioner, an acupuncturist (fantastic!!), and a chiropractor. The combination is working well for me. Contrast that with the first 10 months of symptoms under doctors' care and making no progress, the alternative methods my help more than you know.

What's the cause of my problems? I should have more definitive answer when I am next tested by the NP. We are suspecting parasite, virus and/or fungus.

Ask around in your area. You may have good friends who can recommend exactly the right person to see. And it may not be who or the type of person you expect, but may be perfect for you!

Sending butterflies to help you feel well and healthy, and to be sure that the professionals find answers that are easy for you to manage.


michelem2010-05-02 03:32:21 +0000 #6
Thank you all so much for your kind words of encouragement. Saw my pcp and she pulled some strings to get me in to see a gastroenterologist tomorrow. My bloodwork came back with an elevated wbc (last two blood draws I've had, my wbc was low so this is not normal for me). She said this might indicate infection, in which case it will be treated with the antibiotics I'm on. However, I don't have a fever or anything else that indicates infection so . . .

I suppose I'll find out more tomorrow. Hopefully I don't have to get a colonoscopy!

Again, I so appreciate your kind words. You've helped calm my fears for the time being.
Zen2010-05-02 04:38:43 +0000 #7
Even if you do have to have a colonoscopy, it's no big deal. I've had that procedure twice, the worst part is the preparation the day before.
anakiwa2010-05-02 03:13:16 +0000 #8
This sort of thing is extremely common with running- I've had many experiences running for the woods on longer more strenuous runs. I've never had bleeding, but I know other people who have.

That said, there are a number of other problems that can cause blood in the stool and it's a very good idea to get checked out to make sure there isn't something more serious going on.

I'm confused though- are you saying your problems start before you are actually running? This might imply something else is going on as well. Before races my nerves get going and I'm in the bathroom several times (I actually find it kind of useful to empty out), but in general you can't blame the running entirely if it starts before you run. Irritable bowel could make you need to go more frequently but it shouldn't cause bleeding. There are some other colon conditions (Crohn's, ulcerative colitis etc) that could do this as well.

If we assume you get checked out and everything is okay and it's just related to running- here's what's worked in marathons for me:


-Salt tablets (I'm currently using lava salts)

-Pepto- bismol (I've known other people who use Immodium, but Pepto seems to work better for me)

-Avoid fiber (salad etc) the night before

Basically on an intense run, most of the available blood flow is going to the legs. The colon isn't getting it's share and it gets irritable (or in some cases down-right angry). Avoidance of dehydration will help keep from aggravating the problem.

I hope everything works out okay!



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