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How to Deal with Embarrassing Runner Issues

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How to deal with common embarrassing runner issues. How to Deal with Embarrassing Runner Issues www.runnerclick.com

If you’ve been a runner for long enough, the chances are good that you have a repertoire of embarrassing running stories to share. From trips and slips to untimely bodily functions and beyond, running sets the perfect scene for some seriously mortifying moments. And while it’s impossible to pre-empt and prevent each and every possible mishap, we’ve compiled a list of some of the more common embarrassing runner issues and how to deal with them. So have a read, stifle a chuckle and revel in the fact that you’re not alone!

Tummy Woes

One of the most common, if not the most common embarrassing running issue, is runner’s trots or diarrhea. It’s every runner’s worst nightmare. And yes, there is actually an official medical term for it. Characterized by an urgent (U-R-G-E-N-T!) need for a bowel movement mid-run, runner’s diarrhea is very common among long distance runners.

And it’s hardly surprising. A combination of jostled organs, decreased blood flow to the intestines and a healthy dose of good old pre-run anxiety can hardly lead to anything else, can it? So what’s a runner to do?

Well-known running coach, Jenny Hadfield, recommends the following:

  • Limit your intake of fatty and high-fiber foods several hours before heading out for a run.
  • Give yourself at least two to three hours to digest a meal before heading out. Wait up to four hours after a particularly large meal before running.
  • Drink to thirst throughout the day and throughout your run.
  • If you’re a morning runner, time your run for after your bowel movements. Get things going by eating a banana or drinking a green smoothie or cup of coffee.
  • Use a running route that passes by a public restroom.
  • Experiment with eliminating high-sugar drinks and gels from your training diet.
  • Try running at different times of day.

Unsightly and Painful Chafing

Chafing is, at best, a pain. And when it happens in some rather delicate areas, few things could be worse. For females, chafing of the private parts or even in between the butt cheeks can be pure hell. And for males, the unsuspecting bloke and his bleeding nipples, posing for a post-race picture with his mates, have left many cringing in their tracks. So how do you prevent finding yourself in one of these painful predicaments? Try the following:

  • Lube, lube, lube every body part that’s prone to chafing! Even if you think that your run will be short, the weather will be fine and your lucky gear will do its thing.
  • For longer runs, carry a sample size of lube with you and re-apply mid-run.
  • Stay away from cotton.
  • Gear up in moisture wicking fabrics.
  • Go seamless.
  • And for the guys who struggle with nipple chafing, try wearing a smaller sized shirt. Also, lube and cover your nipples with Band-Aids, liquid plaster or Nip Guards before heading out.


And if all of this fails? Apply some diaper rash cream to affected parts and you’ll be a pain-free, happy runner again in no time.


Womanhood is a wonderful thing. But pregnancy, childbirth and growing older can bring with it a frustrating side effect for many women: Incontinence. Weakened pelvic and sphincter muscles, combined with the pressure and jostling of running, can lead to mortifying mid-run mishaps.

But instead of avoiding running altogether, try one or more of the following mom-approved tactics:

  • Avoid wet shorts by running with a urine protection pad. For longer runs, carry an extra pad and change mid-run. Be sure to plan your route to include a public restroom along the way. Also lube liberally before heading out.
  • Wear black tights/capris. Tights or capris with a built-in running skirt may make you feel even less self-conscious.
  • Do your Kegels! Yes, they’re tedious and yes, everyone hates doing them, but the reward can be sweet. Firstly, identify your pelvic floor muscles by stopping urine mid-stream. Once you know which muscles to use, you’ll be able to do your Kegels anywhere and anytime. To do Kegels, contract your pelvic muscles for ten seconds, relax and repeat ten times. Do this up to three times per day. You should be able to see some results within 12 weeks of consistent Kegel work.
  • In severe cases, talk to your physician about the possibility of urinary incontinence surgery. Many women who have undergone this procedure have successfully returned to running without any issues.

Part and Parcel of the Running Scene

May these tips and tricks help save you from potential future humiliation. But, if someday soon you find yourself knee-deep in a seriously embarrassing situation, rest assured that your running tribe understands. We’ve all been there. And we’ve all got the t-shirt. And remember: In hindsight and in the right company, some of those embarrassing moments make for the best post-run giggles.


  1. Jenny Hadfield, 24 Solutions to Embarrassing Issues Only Runners Understand, Online publication
  2. Christine Hinton, Girl Talk: Embarrassing Running Problems, Online publication
  3. Edward R. Laskowski, MD, Runner's diarrhea: How can I prevent it?, Online publication
  4. Jenny Hadfield, How to prevent nipple chafing, Online publication