Out of the Bag: Running

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I am not a runner. I know I sometimes sound like I am, but I’m really not. I have run in the past and I plan to run in the future, but I have never classified myself as officially being a “runner.” A runner is someone who really loves running. It’s someone who can’t wait to put their running shoes on and head out the door because the time they are running is one of the best parts of the day. Or at least that’s how I have always imagined what being a “runner” would be like. I am definitely not like that.

I don’t actually like running. I don’t get an extreme amount of satisfaction from traveling over long distances using nothing but my own two legs. I run because I can. I run because two years ago, I could hardly make it from my couch to the front door. I run because prior to my surgery, any time I got past a light jog, my colon would give me a very loud, “Stop!” And I train for half-marathons because I am one of those people who needs to have a goal in site to help keep me moving.

I have found that running with an ostomy is not as crazy or as difficult as it may sound. I know that the fear of having your bag fill up while you are running may deter some people. While I understand this may not be the case for everybody, my ostomy tends to shut down as I run. Just this weekend, I went for a 10 mile run in preparation for my half-marathon coming up in just 4 weeks. (Yikes!) And those 10 miles took me around two hours, and in that entire time, I had next to no output into my bag. Now quite often after I finish running, my bag will fill up very quickly, so it is good to have a plan for emptying it fairly quickly once you finish.

Of course, this is not always the way it is and I will admit that I have been out for a run before and had my bag start to fill up. It is not very comfortable to run with a heavy bag, so you have a couple of options here. You can just live with it, especially if you are only going for a short run. Or, if you are running in an urban setting, it may be possible for you to stop at a restaurant or a store to quickly empty. But I have found myself in the situation in places where there is not an easily accessible bathroom. So you know what, I found a secluded place and took care of it. Nice enough, you don’t even have to drop your pants to empty an ostomy bag! And I have used leaves before to wipe it down, but it would not be a bad idea to put a few tissues in your pocket before you leave for a run, just in case.

Stephanie Hughes fuel belt half marathon running hydration stolen colon ostomy crohns disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd blogI have mentioned before that I have hydration issues, so I need to have water with me at all times, even if I’m just going for a short run. On those shorter runs, I will usually just take a water bottle to carry with me, but that can be uncomfortable for longer runs. That’s why I got myself a Fuel Belt, which is one of the best running investments I’ve ever made. Mine carries two small bottles of water, but there are others that carry even more. Plus, it has a little pouch that can either fit my phone or some energy gels for the along the way. I would recommend that anyone with an ostomy to always have water with you on a run. You can get really low on your hydration really fast, especially once we hit these warm, summer months coming up.

Finding the right running pants is also important. The waistband of some of the can rub at just the wrong place and after a while it can get uncomfortable. I prefer to go with something with a ostomy pants running run exercise training stephanie hughes stolen colon crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd bloghigher waist and that fits securely. My favorite pair of pants has a drawstring at the top, and I have found that makes a big difference for me, since I know they won’t be slipping around or pulling on my ostomy bag. Plus, it just helps keep the bag securely in place, so it isn’t moving around too much.

To me, those are the most important things about running with an ostomy: simply making sure you are comfortable and staying hydrated. I really haven’t found it to be any different other than taking those few things into account beforehand.

As I said earlier, having an ostomy has made it possible for me to even be able to this. It has made it possible for me to already have run a triathlon and two half-marathons and to currently be training for my third. I always try to remember that when I am out for my runs and I start thinking about how much legs hurt or the fact that I’m running out of breath or energy… I try to remember how blessed I am to even be able to do this in the first place. I try to remember that because of my ostomy, I can run longer and harder than I ever thought I would. And I will continue to run, simply because I can.

Have you tried running with an ostomy? Have you had an different experiences? Are there any other tips or great running accessories you have found for other ostomates?

22 thoughts on “Out of the Bag: Running

    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Not other than the usual stuff like energy gels or chews. I also always keep a big bottle of water in the car for when I’m done, if I’m not close to home.

      1. Vegan Ostomy

        Do you worry at all about leaking due to the movement/sweating while out on foot? I’ve only had my ostomy over the past fall/winter, so I haven’t experienced hotter temperatures with it. I do worry about sweat and activity having an affect on the wafer adhesive.

          1. Vegan Ostomy

            Thank you. I have sure seals, but find they really irritate my skin. Oddly enough, another VERY SIMILAR product called Opsite Flexifix doesn’t, so perhaps I can use that the same way.

            I also have a Stealth Belt, which I’d use for activity when the time comes.

            Do you carry any supplies when out for prolonged physical activity?

        1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

          I have never had a problem with it leaking due to running or with the adhesive feeling up. However, I will admit that being a woman, I don’t sweat as much as some individuals. But I do swim with it and very rarely have an issue with that. I have also done hot yoga, and in that scenario, I did find that an ostomy wrap helped. I don’t prefer to use a wrap when exercising, just because I find it a little uncomfortable, but I would definitely recommend giving one a try if you are worried about that. I found that one that has covering on both the front and the back of the wrap (rather than a simple, slip-on wrap) is best, because it catches the sweat so it doesn’t get to the wafer. I hope that helps!

          1. Vegan Ostomy

            Thanks. I wouldn’t normally be concerned about the adhesive failing, but since my rectal surgery, my ostomy has been more problematic and I can’t go more than 3 days without problems (vs. 5+ days before). There is a new Coloplast appliance coming out in May which features a new type of adhesive wafer, so perhaps I’ll get longer wear with that – until then, I’ll use the combo of a wafer extender + Stealth Belt (I prefer it over a wrap for activity) and see how it goes.

            Thanks for this kind of post – these “everyday tips” are so welcome!

          2. Kristi

            When you have gone swimming, do you find that you have to change your wafer before you usually would? How long are you able to stay in the water for? I have yet to try swimming because of being nervousness. I’d take any advice on that!!!

          3. Stephanie Hughes Post author

            Hey, Kristi, when I have gone swimming, it was mostly for swimming laps. I honestly have had very few issues with it. I’ve stayed in there for an hour or more before. The wafer will usually get a little soft around the edges, but I dry it (a hairdryer on a low setting works) and it usually goes back to normal. I really wouldn’t be too worried about it. I love being the pool and the ostomy has never stopped me or given me reason to stop. Give it a try! There are also products that you can get to put on the edge of your wafer, if it did cause any issues.

    2. Russell Nurick

      I’m still kind of new to this, but I started running again last month, and I wear a wrap I bought online that makes a world of difference. There’s a sort of pocket in it for the appliance, and you almost forget you even have it on because the wrap relieves you of any weight, pull, or bouncing. If you haven’t already tried wearing one when you run, I highly recommend it.

  1. Mike chewey

    My ostomy is just up high just below ribs not sure how too secure the bag for activity . New too this just got mine during dec. any info would be helpful .:)

    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Hi, Mike, I hope you are doing well and adjusting to everything. So a couple of things… first of all, as long as you can tuck the bottom of your bag into your waistband, that may be enough to keep it in place so it doesn’t cause any problems. I would give that a try and see how it does. If that doesn’t work, then an ostomy wrap may be a good option for you. They can help protect the bag from sweat and also keep it in place while you’re running.

  2. Some Ostomate

    Hi Stephanie,

    I loved your post. Let me share my experience w/ ostomy and sports:
    Regarding leaks, I can recommend SureSeal Rings – it’s a clear tape that goes over the wafer it is designed to prevent leaks and make the wafer application hold longer Link – http://www.alpglobal.com/Sure-Seal-TM-Rings.html

    Regarding clothes, I can recommend wraps designed for ostomy – they are designed to secure the bag to your body (as a tights pants will do) while allowing the bag to reach it’s maximal capacity. In addition, it makes it easy to handle the bag when it’s full. Link – https://www.ostomysecrets.com/ostomysecrets/women/wraps/classic-wrap/unisex-classic-wrap-lite/c-26/c-325/p-492

    Please do google these products and read some reviews by other ostomates,
    I highly recommend you to try these products out – for me they are life changing!

  3. M Hyatt

    I have an ostomy and am very active. I wear an ostomy secrets wrap under tight yoga pants/shorts and always take immodium before I workout/run to make sure I won’t have any output to deal with during my activity. I also always use Coloplast’s barrier strips for extra protection around the wafer. They’re awesome!

  4. Pete

    Glad to hear someone else is active with a ostomy! I have had one for the last 21yrs and took up running few years ago to lose weight and get healthy. I have completed 9 full marathons with it and run 40+miles/week. My best time is currently 3:44, so not exactly a walk in the park. Sure is nice to get the word out that you can be very active with a bag and not have too much trouble!

  5. Sheri

    I am so glad to run across this post! I’m doing my first 5k in October and in the humidity ( I live in NC) I am finding it difficult to run in preparation for it. I started using Ceralyte to help keep hydrated, and Immodium so I don’t have to deal with a full bag on my run. My concern is that the run is in the morning and I can tend to be hypoglycemic in the morning. Not sure what to eat without making me sick or feel bloated before the run. Last time I ran I couldn’t finish because I had no energy, got weak, then real shaky. Any suggestions to help balance this?

    1. Jessica Skladd (@jessicaskladd)

      Do you do any ab workouts with your ostomy? What kind of support do you use? How long did you wait before doing ab excercises? It’s been 4 months since my surgery and I want to start working out but I’m afraid of giving myself a hernia or causing some other damage.


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