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I'm an amateur runner, having completed one marathon and several half marathons over the last few years.

I'm currently training for a marathon which is to take place in about three weeks, and so am at the point of very long distance training runs, and I've noticed a rather disturbing trend, that I often have to stop to go to the toilet (both kinds) during the longer runs. While out on my own on a training run I can sneak off into the bushes or stop in at a pub or something as I pass, that won't be so easy in the throngs of thousands of other runners.

There will be toilets on the course, but they'd be few and far between. Besides, I'd rather not break my stride and add several minutes to my time, if possible.

Of course the obvious answer would be "Go before it starts", but it's not that easy - I have no need to go, try as I might, beforehand, it's only several miles in that the need arises.

The marathon starts at 8:15 am

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What you've described is commonly called "runner's trots" and it's one of the more disgusting secrets of endurance running. So don't worry. You are not alone in having that issue. It's so common it has its own slang term.

Extreme running constricts the blood vessels which reduces blood to the intestines. Running also causes the contents of your stomach to jump up and down repeatedly. On top of that, you're at a high risk of dehydration can lead to gastrointestinal problems.

To try to mitigate the risk of having to go to the bathroom, you can:

  • Eat low fiber foods 24 hours to running
  • Eat only foods you have an easy time digesting. Especially avoid dairy and FODMAPs.
  • Do not add new foods you've never tried before. You have no idea how you'll react so play it safe.
  • Stay hydrated as much as possible. Take full advantage of drink stops. Maybe consider running with a hydration pack. Just note: Always check the rules of the race before bringing anything with you on the track. Some races don't allow sip belts or backpacks and you could get disqualified. Also keep in mind that anything you bring adds weight and makes the run harder.
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Avoid NSAIDs
  • Do not run at your maximum capacity. Try to keep your stress levels low as low as possible. This may not be an ideal idea if you're competitive, but if you're just trying to have fun then do just that. Have fun and enjoy it. You may actually end up finishing faster because you're taking less breaks anyway.

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