QUESTION: I’m 51 and a strong recreational cyclist who does about 250 miles a week, including two hard 40-milers with local racers (who seem to look younger every year). Recently, my body began “helping” me prepare for each week’s two competitive rides by sending me to the bathroom several times on those days. I worry that I’ll have diarrhea while riding, though I never have. The rest of the time, my bowel habits are totally normal. I psych myself up for these race-like rides and perform well. Should I be worried about these frequent trips to the bathroom? — D.K.
RBR REPLIES: I think your intestinal activity is a result of nervousness. You probably don’t feel especially nervous because the hard rides aren’t “real races.” But if you’re getting psyched up to deal out some hurt to the youngsters, your body is preparing for action just as if it were the Tour de France.
Thanks to the gut-brain connection, the the pre-race jitters before a very hard group ride can also move right down from your brain to your gastrointestinal system, giving you the urge to poop. If you’ve ever seen the lines at the portable toilets just before an actual bike race, you’ll know that this isn’t an issue that only affects you!
The more accustomed you become to the stresses of “race day” the better your system should adapt. Don’t fight it — consider it a benefit to be empty during stressful rides.
I’ve gotten to where I know where all the ‘good bathrooms’ are near all the CX courses I race cause by the time I get there, I gotto GO! …and I’d rather not sit in a porta john in the hot or cold.
Take it from a rider who lives with colitis: Once you’ve had your first poop of the day, take couple of Imodium tablets. They cause your stool to firm up and thus not be in such a hurry to evacuate you system. And they won’t do you any harm.
any negative effect from the imodium? something that may screw up your race/ride???
i like this idea for longer rides where you dont have easy access to a restroom…. and my buddies will not let me forget the incident if anything happens 🙂
I never had any ill effects from the Imodium. In fact, when my colitis is not in remission, I may take four tablets over the course of the day.. It does contain a small amount of loperamide, but so small that you’d have to consume extraordinary amounts (like 100 tablets a day) of the imodium to have any problem.
Are you also pre-hydrating? and/or pre-caffeinating? Both will speed GI transit. My urine output drops markedly once I start riding, due I assume to combo of reduced renal perfusion and reduced blood vol due to sweat loss. The dehydration is presumably in part why I also very rarely need to poop during a ride….another meaning to riding “hard”! Interesting idea–if you think in hot weather you are better to start with a full colon (water but also weight) I suppose it might be logical to take the imodium a couple of hours before starting.
Welcome to CRIBS: Cycling and Running Induced Bowel Syndrome. At least that’s what I call it. Happens to me anytime I’m heading out for more than a quick 15-20 miler or taking a run more than a 5k. I try to anticipate it, but sometimes things sneak up on you! What can I say??