We’ve managed to avoid talking about toilets for weeks, which as most runners know isn’t easy. It’s marathon season now though and it’s time to think about our bladders. (Stick with us on this one – you’ll be glad you did!)
Runners have a bit of an obsession with pee, it seems. I’ve had lengthy conversations about what it should look like, how to time it right, even where and how to do it, for heaven’s sake! It’s not an unhealthy obsession though – your running life will be much happier if you get the pee thing right.
We’ve written about the importance of being well-hydrated before in our Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate post. What many runners don’t do is use the most obvious way of checking that they’re getting the balance right – yes, of course, your lovely pee. If you’re properly hydrated, it will be almost clear or pale yellow. If you’re not it will be dark and smell a little on the ripe side. If you get a whiff of it before you flush, it’s probably time to take in more fluids. That bit’s easy to understand.
The thing that many runners struggle with, particularly those just starting out, is when to pee. If you’ve stood in those interminable queues for portaloos at the beginning of a race, convinced you’re going to miss the start because there are so many bloody weak-bladdered people in the world, you should do two things: a) chill out – you’re one of those with a hamster bladder too and b) time your drinks better next time.
The best tip I ever had was to take in plenty of fluids up to ONE HOUR before the race (water or your favourite sports drink). Then drink nothing more while you’re suffering that goddamned portaloo queue before the start. Then (and only then) top up with water or your sports drink at the start line. That always works for me – indeed, the one time I ignored it I ended up midway through a race peeing in a car park under the full glare of the security cameras. Not my most edifying moment but, hey, needs must – and my shamefaced idiocy reminded me that the tips above are absolutely foolproof!
The photo is of the toilet queues before the 2012 London Marathon, copyright Gretel Insignia.