9/14/08

Bathroom: STAT!

"Feel the fear and do it anyway." SUSAN JEFFERS

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh…I got to find a bathroom! STAT!” Sound familiar? Some of us have gotten this once in our running days, and please, don’t be embarrassed, we have all gone through it and we all talk or even laugh about it. Bathroom humor brings to some good stories while you pass the longer mileages in your run. Each person has a different story about finding a facility to go, relieving oneself on the side of the road or literally sprinting to the bathroom at home. May it be running behind a person with extreme body order or having an upset stomach during a race, we experience some of the best or rather worst hygiene aspects of life.

While running in the 24 hour (27 hour in our case) relay of Reach the Beach relay race this past month I thought about this experience. Think about it, you run with a bunch of other runners then pack it up in a van (closed environment) and keep running for 24 hours. Umm…when do you shower? We didn’t, until the very end. Some happened to clean themselves off with baby wipes, while others happened to change out of their race clothes and into the next running outfit when we pit stopped (eating or sleeping) at the next transition area.

Then add the weather factor, which it could be warm which causes sweat and body odor or it could be raining, the ultimate stench – Soggy Running Shoes! We squirm, but we all know the usual smell. In this trip, one van was lucky to escape the rain, while the other van was not. I was lucky to be in the dryer van…

Then add in the exhaustion/terrain factor, in our case we only ran with 10 members (usually 12 members – where each member does 3 legs) some members had to run 4 legs and totaling the mileage as much as a marathon distance and no less than 15 miles through the rolling hills of New Hampshire.

Then add the night, where you had to run with a safety vest, blinkers and headlamp. I heard that one person had lost their blinkers in the port-o-potties…it must have fallen off, but they did not dare to go fetch for it, if you know what I mean.

But we are runners; none of this stuff should phase us in any way. Are we all like this? Is this an unspoken topic that all of us rule out and put under the table. We as runners exercise to the limits of always sweating during the hot, humid nights during the summer time. To some people, this is disgusting, where some even find sweating gross!

Although, we as runners find it somewhat acceptable to go for a run and then go to a social event right after, some without even showering, but changing clothes. Most runners that I know are very picky and somewhat perfectionists in what they do outside of running, although as runners and athletes, we tend to brush the unsanitary card aside.

As I read, Runners World (May’s Issue), (yes, I am behind) there is an article about bathroom and embarrassing issues.

Fact or fiction: Going to the bathroom before a race helps you race better.

FACT - Going to the bathroom before a race physiologically a runner may feel relieved and flush the nervous-ness out of your system. It may be one less stop you have to do while running or even thinking about running to the bathroom or finding a restroom doing the race. This may cut down on your time based on the race being a timed. If you had to stop into the restroom your time increases. Add on the fact that if you had to wait for a person to get out of a port-o-potty, this adds more time as well. So yes, all this may be true, but some people superstitiously or just customary to “relieve” themselves

What and when should you eat before a race?

Everyone has different “breakfast” or things they would eat before and during a race. Of course this is determined by what distance of a race it is. Racing and running causes your body to move, which means that your organs will also move. This movement sometimes causes your stomach and items in your stomach to slosh, which may cause uneasiness and “problems” when you run. Watch out, the motions of running also causes irritation of the intestines, which causes blood to go into your urine.

Suggestions: Eat at least 30 minutes to an hour before the race. For solid items, eat a bagel (w/o peanut butter), oatmeal or bananas, which are usually safe items. Drinking Gatorade also helps put electrolytes in your body and upkeeps water levels when you start to run. During a run, items such as GU or blocks, may also cause uneasiness no matter how many times you train with it.

Of course, everyone is different in this category. We all share this as a regular body function of life. Some can laugh about it, while others cringe on the topic (which I apologize if this is the case for this article.) But we all have different running rituals to superstitions that we may or may not share, even though Halloween is right around the corner. Some people just come to the facts of life that they are one of these people that just have stomach issues all the time.

“Hey, when you have to go, you have to go!”

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