(Real) Tips for Reducing the Need to Use the Bathroom While Running
It is actually a pretty common problem some runners face: the need or urgency to use the restroom while running. Whether you are on a long run or in a race, this could become quite a crisis at times.
It does not matter if it is number one or number two that plagues you. Either one can put a runner into a quandary! Well, you are in luck because I have some excellent and helpful tips for you! Keep reading for tips on how to avoid having to use the bathroom while running!
Tips For The Frequent Tinkler!
Some runners, women in particular, face this problem. It does not matter if they hit the porta-potty a dozen times before a race; they still jump in line one last time before the starting gun goes off. If you find yourself having to pee before, during and after a run, is there something you can do?
While Kegels do work for some women, others learn they are actually too tense and need to relax to avoid having to pee. This causes pressure that feels like a urinary urge or can actually cause leakage. Neither of these is fun while running.
Although you may be tempted to drink less before you run, that could put you in danger of dehydration. Also, drinking too little then sweating can cause your urine to be very strong. Urine with a higher concentration can irritate the bladder giving you even stronger urges of having to pee.
You can also limit liquids that are likely to bother your bladder, such as coffee, tomato or orange juice. Acidic or high caffeine beverages can make urinary urges feel more intense.
Poop Happens… But it Doesn’t Have To…
So what about the uncontrollable urge to poop while running? This issue happens to a surprisingly large number of people. Heck, within my running group we celebrate it when we manage to poop prior to a long run or race. One of the worse things that can happen is feeling the urge to go without a bathroom or porta-potty nearby. There are things you can do to help avoid this common problem.
First, you can eat a couple of hours before you run. This will give you some time to digest before setting out. Another common trick among runners is to figure out if there are certain things that will help you to get things moving along. Many people find that a cup of coffee does the trick. If this works for you, have some coffee with breakfast a while prior to your run.
Avoiding high fiber food the night before (and morning of) a big run can be very important. High fiber foods can be anything from bran cereals to salads. And realize that every person has a different tolerance for the amount of fiber their body can handle, and how long that fiber will impact their body.
For example, I would not eat a big salad any less than 48 hours before a long run or race because the results of that could be catastrophic for me. I have a friend, on the other hand, who could have a huge salad for lunch the day before, but not for dinner. Two runners, very different impact.
Some fruits can cause gastro distress. High citrus fruit is more likely to bring about reflux, some people will struggle with a high fiber fruit like apples, and bananas sit perfectly with more runners than not. Having said that, another running pal of mine eats apple slices with peanut butter before every run. It works for her!
High-fat foods can also cause tummy problems and can end with a very sad runner in the porta-potty. This is not only limited to the morning of your run! If you have a touchy stomach, be careful for 24-48 hours before a goal race to be on the safe side.
Anything that causes you to be gassy and/or bloated is a food you should avoid. Beans and legumes are often problems for people in this regard. Personally, I cannot eat eggs on race day for this reason.
Fake sugar (sugar substitutes) often causes problems. These appear in many diet sodas, candies and also zero or low-calorie sports drinks. For me, these are not an option!
What Should You Eat?
Focusing on eating things that are easier to digest can help you to avoid disaster during a run. This includes simple pasta, bread products, etc. A plain old bagel is a very popular choice for many runners!
Having an easy-to-digest protein source can also be a good idea. Some athletes will eat some bland (unseasoned or lightly seasoned) turkey or chicken a couple of hours before the run. Other runners swear by peanut butter on that bagel.
It may sound like an odd thing to have for breakfast, but potatoes are an excellent food for race morning. My favorite are sweet potatoes! I put just a little bit of butter and swirl in some brown sugar. It is delicious, easy to digest and does not bother my very touchy stomach!
Oatmeal is another great choice. Actually, I eat my pre-run oatmeal the same way I enjoy my sweet potatoes! I do dilute my oats with a touch of almond milk so it is not so sticky and thick.
If you do everything right the day before and morning of your race and then make mistakes during the race, you can still find yourself in trouble on race day. Perhaps most important of all is how you fuel during your run.
Many popular runner fuels, such as gels and sports blocks, cause gastrointestinal distress. It is crucial that you practice with fueling if you are going to do a race where you will need calories when you run. If the gel in your pouch upsets your stomach on a Saturday morning run, it is likely to have the same impact on race day!
You can fuel your body with real foods such as honey, nut butters, bits of potato, dried fruit, or other things. Sure, some of these things are not as easy to carry as a pouch of gel. But if it saves you stomach problems on race day, isn’t it worth it?