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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

When to Pull Over

After getting a good dose of rest, I felt much revived this morning, and not too sore at all. Last night, my muscles and joints were just aching, especially my right knee (it's given me a little attitude in the past), but this morning I felt good as gold. I don't know what it was about that run yesterday; I'm not sure if it was the distance, the pace, the day itself, or what, but I was spent. Plus, once you start increasing mileage it can be surprising how long you're out there. I'm not too speedy, so those 61/2 miles yesterday took me about 70 minutes, and when I think about it, that's a long time to run.

Which makes me think about the truly long distances: the half marathon and the full marathon, when you run for hours. And after thinking about that length of time, it raises several questions for me. For one thing, would you need to use the bathroom? Because I usually pee before I go for a run, and while I run, I don't usually feel any urgent pee issues, but after four hours would I? And if I stopped to use a port-a-potty would I ever be able to start up again? And peeing is one thing, but what about pooing? It has happened once or twice when I have stepped out the door, ran about a mile, and had to run top speed back to the house -- I can't hold poo; when I have to go, I have to go. So, on a marathon, are restrooms available frequently? Would you ever have to walk off the road or trail and squat with some leaves? What if you filled your shorts? How uncomfortable would that walk be?

These are, I feel, pertinent questions, and they are the sort of questions many running discussions never touch on. When RW reports on races, they never interview anyone who says, "Yeah, the race was great, but I had to piss myself part way through. I didn't want to mess up my time." (Actually, something tells me there are runners out there who would think like this. Can you imagine the chafing?) Anyway, I suppose that as I work to increase my miles each week, these will be issues I'll just have to accept and figure out once I get there. For now, my greatest concern is doing the distances I have set forth, and as of yet, I haven't had any major emergencies.


Running Jayhawk said...

With marathons and half marathons, between the ones i've watched and the one I raced in...there seems to be plenty of porta potties.

Problems with porta potties:
1. When you need one the most, they're never around.
2. 9 times outta 10, there's a line. When there's a line, you wait. When you wait, you stop. When you stop you lose time.
3. 1 point for the men...they can pee against a wall.
4. Race days the police just don't seem to care about public urination...if you're bold enough to do it. Just get yourself to an alley or behind a car...discreet is key.
5. If it's a run through a town/city/whatever...run into a store mid-race to relieve yourself. When you gotta go, you gotta go. McDonalds is good for more than fast food.

Now anyone who's ever had to poo during a race will tell you to do everything in your power to get it out before the gun goes off. Easier said than done. I have a really sensitive digestive tract and my tummy will ache if I'm running and nature calls me for a deuce. So in cases like that I *have* to relieve myself. And that's just not something I'll duck behind a bush and do. So if you haven't learned to poo in public and fear it'll happen during a race, you've gotta get over your fears. Pull over...wait in line...do your business and keep on truckin.

I promise you won't be the only one takin' care o' bid'ness. It happens to everyone at some time or anyother.

m said...

You crack me up. You are just to funny.

I usually don't HAVE to go during races (then again, I've only done 5k's) BUT at my first 5k I had to pee so bad before the race that I squatted (along with my training buddy) behind a dumpster behind a bar. Lovely. Felt just like college.

Liv said...

Aaah my constant need for bathrooms (or bushes, or whatever's handy...) is the bane of my existence - and waiting nervously for the start of a race just amplifies the problem! I wish pee and poo just had an "on/off" switch...

Kurt in Boston said...

If you have to pee before you start a marathon, the feeling is not going to go away. I know this from experience. But normally once you start, your bladder just sort of shuts down (unless you're drinking way more than you need).

And yes, at the elite level, some marathoners will not stop to pee. They will do it on the run. I believe I read somewhere that Steve Spence did this in the Barcelona Olympic marathon. Just kept running.

And speaking of runs... There was another famous marathoner (won't mention her name) who had the runs on the run. Just slowed down enough to clean up a bit. Surprised a few spectators.