Runner's diarrhea, often termed "runner's trots" or "the gingerbread man", is a condition that often affects distance runners, and is characterized by an urgent need for a bowel movement mid-run. If the runner can find a suitable toilet or bush, the resulting stool will be on the higher end of the Bristol stool scale. Whether the stool can be considered diarrhea, or a clinical expression of ischemic enteropathy is under debate.
Causes of runner's diarrhea
The causes of runner's diarrhea remain under debate, although several theories include ischemia and mechanical trauma. The reduced incidence of diarrhea in cyclists would indicate the latter. Diet is often cited as a common cause of diarrhea in distance runners, particularly with meals including berries and dried fruit.
Treatment and prevention
Runner's diarrhea will normally clear up by itself from several hours to two days after running. As with all forms of diarrhea, replacement of fluids and electrolytes is advisable. Methods to prevent runner's diarrhea will vary between individuals, although it is advisable to consider examining the pre-running diet to determine potential trigger foods.
Famous cases of runner's diarrhea
At the 2005 London Marathon, Paula Radcliffe won with a time of 2:17:42, although the race is often remembered for the moment when Radcliffe, in desperate need for a toilet break, stopped by the road in full view of the crowd and TV cameras, and the unfortunate event was broadcast live. She later blamed a meal of grilled salmon from the previous night for the incident.
There are a number of colloquialisms for runners' diarrhea contracted in various localities, such as "Montezuma's revenge", "turistas", or "Aztec two step" for runners' diarrhea contracted in Mexico, "Pharaoh's Revenge," "mummy's tummy," or "Cairo two-step" in Egypt, "Kurtz Hurtz" in Uzbekistan, "Bombay belly" or "Delhi belly" in India, "A case of the shits" or "Hershey Squirts" or "The McShits" in North America, "Down Under Butt Chunder" in Australia, "Karachi crouch" in Pakistan, "Suryavarman's Revenge" in Cambodia, "kabulitis" in Afghanistan, "holiday tummy" in United Kingdom, although this is not directed at tourists in the UK but at British tourists abroad, "Bali belly" in Bali, or "Taghazout Tummy" in Taghazout or "Kathmandu quickstep" in Nepal. In Canada it is termed "beaver fever". In China, diarrhea is referred to as 拉肚子 (pinyin: lā dùzi, lit.: "pulled stomach"). A recent local term in Pattaya, Thailand, is "Thai-dal wave". Peacekeepers to Arabic-speaking countries have called it "yalla yalla" (Arabic for "fast, fast") referring to the extreme urgency it causes. This one is similar to "corre corre" meaning "run run" used in some regions of Colombia.
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