Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sh** or Get Off of the Portapotty

Oh no.

You're the runner who arrives late to the race. The corrals are getting ready to close and ignoring the call of nature, you squeeze into whatever corral is open. Even if it's not the one you are assigned to.

Maybe you signed up at the last minute for the race. Got in under the wire. Picked up your bib on race morning. You're feeling the pressure, trying to get ready to run the race.

Or maybe you signed up for the race that morning.

You get in line for the portapotties. All the lines around you are moving forward except for yours. And it's last call for the start.

What to do? Do you ignore the thunder from down under? Rolling the dice and risking a code brown on the race course? Or do you heed the warning signs and risk missing the start of the race?


Sorry for the crude title to this post. But have you ever done this? I think most of you know what I'm talking about here.

There has to be nothing more panic-inducing for a runner than not being able to take care of business prior to a race. Can't get out the door in time? Stuck in traffic? Late to a race?

Imodium, anyone? It doesn't always work.

It might surprise a lot of you that in general, I'm somewhat of a procrastinator. As type A as I can be, I'm not great about planning ahead. I often sign up last minute for a race. I've run a lot of races but I still can't get it together on race morning.

I put the "pro" in procrastination.

Even though I may be a procrastinator I am good at prioritizing. One of my priorities is making sure that I don't have any unexpected surprises along the race course.

Sh** happens. Especially to long distance runners. No one wants to talk about it. It's one of those unpleasantries we have to deal with. And if it hasn't happened to you, you've run up behind a runner who has.


Don't you wonder what the elites do about this? Does Shalane have potty problems?

Even though I may wait until the last minute to sign up for a race, I make sure I give myself plenty of prep time on race morning to make sure--ahem--that there are no unexpected surprises. Which includes getting to the race with plenty of time to spare. There have been a few races that I've gotten to the start late. It's not a good feeling to cross the start line with unfinished business rumbling in your tummy.


Pretty sure you catch my drift. Well, actually, I hope you don't. Ahem.

While I can't control everything, I do the best I can by:

The week before a race: My diet is bland. Boring. No salads. Nothing green. No corn. No beef. Lots of cheese, chicken, bread, and low fiber foods. Foods that are easy to digest. My family complains.

The night before a race: Thin crust cheese pizza. A glass or 2 of wine. Tried and true. I had a friend who had shrimp scampi the night before a race. Garlic and butter were not a recipe for success. I also review the race course and check out the location of the aid stations. Knowledge is power.

The morning of the race: Coffee for motility and energy. Cereal for a blood sugar boost. Orange juice and vitamins. A few trips to the bathroom before I leave the house with plenty of time to spare. I make sure to have extra wipes in my waist pack. Just in case.


Before the race: While in line for the portapotty, I sip on my secret weapon. I take 8-12 ounces of Tailwind Nutrition to keep my blood sugar up and to hydrate. After using the portapotty, I get back in line again for insurance.

During the race: I take frequent sips of Tailwind. I try to time my sips with every song on my playlist, which usually turns out to be about every 4 minutes or so. The goal is 24 ounces of Tailwind every hour.

This plan of action has worked really well for me the last couple of years. Sometimes it's a little warm and I need to drink extra water at the aid stations. Sometimes it's a little cool and I have to stop to pee. One time I left my Tailwind bottle in the car and you can bet that I sprinted back to grab it. With no time to spare to start the race, I even gave up one of my prized portapotty trips.

No matter what fueling plan you have, make sure you test it out before you race. My final advice here is "nothing new on race day." Unless you are a gambler.

All in the name of success. All with a little planning ahead.

Are you a procrastinator? How do you plan for the unexpected on race morning? Any horror stories to share? What fuel works for you?

Have you entered my giveaway? Check out the featured post on the sidebar and enter to win a pair of SKINS DNAmic compression gear!

I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. Today's word is procrastination. Of course, I'm writing this post at the last minute....











I'm also linking up with the ladies of Coaches' Corner! Debbie, Lora, Rachel, and Susie all have great info for all of us!












And Wild Workout Wednesday! Annmarie, Nicole, Jen, and Michelle are the hosts!

93 comments :

  1. OK this made me laugh out loud and really is one of the reasons I'm not a runner but a walker. I can walk a full marathon without needing to poop. I swear I can't run a mile without thinking: Do I need to poop??

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    1. Walkers definitely have the advantage in this department. Running makes you poop. It's one of those things only spoken of in hushed voices...

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  2. CRACK ME UP. I can never get myself to go the morning of a race. I usually have to stop mid race (and right now, 3 miles into just about run). Honestly, if I didn't run, I would probably rarely go!

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    1. Hahaha Suz I had to smile at this. Whenever I take time off of running I am like how will I poop - it's necessary for me :)

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    2. Same here! And the first thought with an injury is like, how will I poo?

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  3. I've had to make some "emergency stops" during training runs and that made me worry that I wasn't going to make it through my last marathon without stopping. Even though I didn't come in exactly at the time I had hoped for my marathon, I was extremely happy that I didn't have to make a pit stop!

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    1. It was during my first Chicago Marathon training that I realized I need to change my lifestyle--so many emergency stops! The worst!

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  4. LOVE this ! You always talk about topics many people don't dare bring up.
    I am an obsessive type A over-planner and over-anticipater. I over anticipate everything, and never procrastinate about anything. Except my taxes. Because that is complicated (French AND US taxes need to be done, ugh) and a pain in the butt. I prefer to get things over and done with because often things are never as bad as you think they will be.

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    1. It's a service I provide! :p I do talk about unmentionable subjects all day long in my job, so my filter has been long gone!

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  5. OMG....I also wet myself when I saw your post pop up this morning. Somehow, my body cooperates on race morning, even if it's been a little "uptight" in days prior. I usually still need a porta-pot stop before the start line...like you said, insurance. A couple years ago, I ran a 13.1 (through a park with minimal porta-pots) after a few days on antibiotics. One of the side-effects was diarrhea (which I hadn't known about until AFTER I got back home). Luckily, I kept it together, but I thought I was gonna have to crouch behind a tree for the entire race.

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    1. Oh, that's the worst feeling in the world! I can handle pee but #2? Noooooo!

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  6. This post made me laugh to myself! The gif from the Bridemaids movie made me laugh out loud (such a funny movie). I always make sure I give myself enough time to take care of business on race morning before leaving my apartment. I had "nature call" during mile 8 of a half marathon and going into the crime scene, I mean portapotty was one of the grossest experiences of my life lol

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    1. You know that the portapotty in the middle of a race is going to be gross because everyone is having emergencies!

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  7. I am somewhat of a procrastinator but lately I've been trying to get things done right there and there. I've told myself "I'll do it later or tomorrow" and then something else happens and I don't do it. I've been trying to get my runs early in the morning because later on I get too lazy or it is too hot to run.

    I am usually early to a race because I have to use the bathroom about 4-5 times. It sucks!

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  8. I am not a procrastinater; I plan for everything, but this I cannot plan for. I have issues. Yes, bad ones. Without going into too much detail, I don't always make it. It's a reality I have to live with or stay home. And I don't even race! Guess what. It happens to walkers as well. Last Saturday morning.......It was bad. :(

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    1. I believe that it's an aging thing...because it seems to be happening to me as well. Yikes!

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  9. Thankfully, I don't suffer with GI issues.

    I'm actually kind of surprised that cheese makes your easy to digest list -- because I would think it's anything but. For myself, personally, I eat veggies in race week. I don't feel right if I don't. But we have very different issues!

    I'm almost always way early to races -- I may not have GI issues, but I always need to pee! No matter how many times I've gone before I leave the house.

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    1. Lucky you! I guess most people wouldn't consider cheese easy to digest but what it does is slow the process down. That's what I'm looking for.

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  10. Haha, love this post! I always try to make the potty a priority but god for bid I am running late for the race- it throws me all off!

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    1. At Big Sur, we were all told not to head off the road into the bushes because of Poison Oak. Just knowing that made my stomach cramp up!

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  11. So not a procrastinator! I get right in line for the porta potty and then get back in line just to make sure! I also get up extra early to have to go a few times

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    1. Yep, when it comes to this, no procrastinating!!!

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  12. Haha! I am fortunate that I don't usually have such problems before or during a race. I do have to pee multiple times though. I think that's mostly in my head, but it doesn't matter if you're there early or not if you need to go just. one. more. time.

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    1. This is the truth! Peeing isn't on my mind, tho. But drinking all that Tailwind sometimes makes me have to pee during the race!

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  13. Learning to change up my diet for the worse (i.e., no salad) the week before a race was key to solving my post-race GI issues. Most days I have no *issues* but on race day I do need 3 trips to the loo before I leave the house. Now I am wondering if the compression shorts have something to do with it?

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    1. I'm sure the compression doesn't help! But I'm like you--altho I never thought about calling my pre-race diet "the worst" you are absolutely right. In my mind, whatever it takes to prevent any unexpected accidents!

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  14. I pee and pee and pee and pee a thousand times before a race. I get in line and then do that again and just PRAY I don't have a code brown. Great post!

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    1. Don't we all? Sending calming thoughts to your GI tract for this weekend's marathon!

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  15. I've def signed up for shorter races the morning of! I made a practice of it one spring. I'm often ok during the race, but sometimes have issues afterwards. :-(

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    1. I've had that after race cramping and it's not fun!

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  16. Oh I love it so much because it is TRUE! I definitely get to races as early as possible just for this reason. I need to get it all out before the start and will go as many times as it takes. Nervous stomach does not help matters!!! But, so far, I have had zero issues during a race so let's hope the trend continues!!

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    1. Luckily my nervous stomach makes sure it all happens before the race too!

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  17. I'm pretty lucky that as long as I have coffee the morning of a race, I'm good to go and I can eat whatever I want the night before. But I do make sure I'm at a race early and take multiple porta potty stops before it starts because having to stop on a race drives me crazy. Who wants to waste their time in a porta potty during a race!

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    1. Exactly! The lines are usually crazy long, too!

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  18. Thank you for the tips! I never actually thought about the days prior to the race meals, but it makes perfect sense.

    And while we are on the subject, what is it with people taking 10 minutes to explore the meaning of life in those portable toilets? It's simple, go in, sit poo, pee, wipe, and get out!! it's gross enough as it is !

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    1. I don't know what those folks are doing either! It smells so bad, I just want to get out!

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  19. that Bridesmaid's gif is giving me life right now! lol. I don't typically have issues before a race. I stay way clear of porta potties. I try to give myself enough time to get my coffee in and go before even heading out to the start line.

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    1. I wish I could steer clear but it's like the lure of the siren's song...I see one and suddenly, I have to use it!

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  20. ahahahahaha - what runner hasn't faced this predicament? A porta-potty stop is a must before the race. I usually have to make 2! Since every race I've ever run has been timed with a chip, I figure my race doesn't start until I cross the starting line. Sometimes that means I have to join a corral with some slower runners, but I'll eventually get through the crowd and be able to run my race.

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    1. If there is a runner who hasn't experienced this, I don't want to know them!

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  21. I am cracking up!!!!

    I am such a procrastinator.

    My 1st half, I swear I ran that last 100m so fast to get to the potty and then I blew it up!!!

    Procrastinating, I was unable to go before the race and uuugh was hat a mistake!! Never again!!

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    1. You know you wanted someone to talk about it! Why not me? In my most glamorous job, I talk about poop all day long...

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  22. I have GI issues even on non-race days, so I would always take double the imodium on race morning. however, I just started a new med and it seems to be holding things tight - though I haven't completed a race more than 5miles on it yet. We shall see, but it sure makes me nervous to change a routine!

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    1. Imodium just doesn't work for me when I'm running. Clearly my GI tract is immune. Glad you found a solution!

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  23. I'm totally with you on this. I do the bland diet week of race too! I get up plenty early and stretch and do some yoga twists so I can do all my "business" at home. I usually take a last minute potty break before the race, but I'm usually in good shape by then. We have a ritual of stopping at the same fast food restaurant before races in Indy to be sure we have a last flushing toilet option! Lol! One time I was in the porta-potty during the playing of the national anthem before a half marathon. Wasn't gonna rush it! Thank goodness for chip timing these days!

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    1. When I ran Sarasota in March, I was also in the portapotty line during the national anthem. I scurried to my corral and crossed when I was supposed to. Whew!

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  24. This is hilarious. I do the same thing the week of a race and in London for my marathon in April, I ate the exact same dinner every night at different restaurants (so hubby could have something different). I also subscribe to nothing new on race day, unless it is a 5k and you wear something new. My only horror story was the dreaded food poisoning 40 hours before my Boston Marathon debut. That was a nightmare in living color.

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    1. I cannot fathom having food poisoning that close to a race. But on the plus side, your GI tract was completely empty, right? :p

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  25. Ok this is hysterical! For some reason I have a really bad habit of eating spicy foods the night before big races--I had spicy guac the night before my last marathon that was a BAD idea!!

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    1. I cannot even imagine spicy foods the night before--or even the week before a big race! Yikes! There's a bunch of websites devoted to the pain down under after eating flaming hot cheetos. That's what I imagine.

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  26. I thought this post was going to be about people that hog a port o john! LOL! Because I go to the bathroom so many times before the race- I go, then get right back in line. So I often thought... hmmm should I just hunker down in here for the next couple minutes and hog the toilet until I hear the national anthem?? LOL don't worry I never did that because I believe karma would ensure I shit my pants during the race if I did something as mean as that!

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    1. Hahahahaha! Yep. Altho I have been in the PP during the anthem before. Nothing bad happened during the race tho.

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  27. YOU are hilarious. Because SO TRUE!!! Hahaha. First, what DO the elites do?! (Aside from poop in their pants and keep on running...) Second, I center my entire running routine around bathroom time. Hahahaha.

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    1. I really want to know what the elites do. No one is saying.

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  28. This title makes my heart smile! Awesome stuff, lady!

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  29. This is such a relatable post! I always leave time for porta-potties but sometimes the wait is like 30 minutes if there aren't enough of them. One time I wasn't able to get in the porta potty so I had to stop at one on the course. It sucked that it took a minute off of my time, but there wasn't anything I could do! And it's funny about the cheese and the pizza. For me, cheese is something I avoid like the plague because I'm somewhat lactose intolerant, but I have salads.

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    1. See, we are all different! I love hearing what other people eat the night before a race. It's amazing what works.

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  30. LOL!!! I needed a good laugh... haven't had one in a few days!! I finally tried tailwind nutrition on a 10 mile run. I'm going to try it on some longer runs once I really start training for NYC marathon to see how it goes...it's usually around 16 miles that my GI system decided to shut down on me.

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    1. Tailwind was the only thing that worked for me. And it's not 100% but what a difference!

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  31. Funny, but so true! I actually have been behind someone who had, um, problems during a race. Luckily one cup of coffee and I'm good to go!

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    1. I've been behind those runners too and yikes! I always say there but by the grace of God go I....

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  32. I can't have any solid food the morning of a race. Nothing. I'm okay with gels but that's all my body can handle. And if I accidentally get something with a sugar alcohol (Xylitol, Sorbitol, etc.) in it, please get out of my way!

    The dog picture was hilarious, along with the rest of this post!

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    1. I've got my morning routine down to a science! I'm too scared to stray from the tried and true!

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  33. Bahahahaha Wendy, this is amazing! This is seriously the number 1 problem I have before every early morning run. It was the biggest problem I remember from my long-ago half marathons. Thanks for the tips on how to deal! What does it say about me that I do the loop-around potty trip every time I'm going to work out and on a road trip pit stop... ;)

    PS, THANK YOU for including the gif from Bridesmaids! YES!

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    1. Oh I plan my long runs out strategically based on location of the facilities!

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  34. This reads like my autobiography. :) I definitely do bland foods later in the week of a big race. My pre-race dinner is pasta w tomato sauce and grilled chicken. -C

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  35. Pre-race pizza for the win! Knock porty pottie doors, I've only ever had GI issues once and that was because the Caveman convinced me I don't eat enough on race morning. Ugh. I do just fine on my own, thank you very much.

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  36. Ha - this is why I get up WAY early and drink coffee before a race! Fun post.

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    1. Everyone thinks we just run. They don't realize there is so much more to do to get ready for a race!

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  37. Very interesting to read the details behind your pre-race preparation and your in-race fueling/hydration strategy! I've grown to be a big fan of chip-timed races when you're in line at the portapotties and the starting gun goes off. If I end up starting the race DFL, that's fine! Better to get the business out of the way before crossing the starting line than during the race, I say!

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    1. Absolutely! Actually, I can't think of anything worse!

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  38. Between my Crohn's and IBS I have never met a portopotty I didn't like. I can be as "careful" as I want but then have a hellish experience like I did in my 10K last weekend. Woke up to my stomach a disaster. ran some miles before the race, spent a few trips in the portopotties but wound up walking at mile 5 and praying to not poop my pants. It is very frustrating to know I can do everything within my power to try and avoid that but my body may not cooperate. I am at peace with it but just am very leery of races without plentiful bathrooms on the course!

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    1. I don't have Crohns but I do have IBS and from that perspective, I feel you! Yes, I can be as careful as possible and disaster can still be around every corner. I definitely do the best I can, and 90% of the time, I'm good.

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  39. Oh this post made me laugh - so relatable! So imodium, as bad as it is, is my secret for race day. For some reason or another, my race day nerves manifest in not being able to go before a race, no matter how hard I try or plan things. Imodium has saved me from needing pit stops in the past! And I'm rarely adversely affected later, because like Susie above, once I've ran my body is all okay with going.

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    1. I have the exact opposite--Imodium doesn't work, and I tend to need to go multiple times before a race! It's so funny how we are all different. But it's a challenge nonetheless, and it has to be talked about! :)

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  40. Great, great post! This is always a concern and I think being prepared and knowing your body are the best remedies!

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  41. I have only had one potty issue and that was a few years ago when I took caffeinated honey stingers by accident and didn't realize it. At that time I had never used caffeine so it wasn't pretty! I typically am able to take care of business before I even leave the house thankfully!

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  42. Oh wow, the opposite works best for me. I eat my normal foods the week before a race and always a salad the night before to make sure I get up and "go." If I don't go before the race, I will during the race (with about a minute's warning), so for me it's best to go first thing when I get up! It's not the fiber, but fatty food that cause my race day bathroom problems so I steer clear of dips, desserts, etc. before a race.

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. I know, the pizza doesn't make sense. But really, does running long distances make sense?

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  43. I have had some issues on training runs, but not a race (KNOCK ON WOOD!). I am a huge planner when it comes to a race. Love this - such great tips. Pooping is power!!! :)

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    1. Haha! Stealing and using that line!!! Pooping is power!!

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  44. Thankfully, I have not had any potty issues during a race! If I end up waiting in long lines beforehand, I'm usually far enough in the back where I'm not impacted by missing the start. I'm way too superstitious to stop during a run for the bathroom, so I did have a race where I really had to hold my bladder for several miles...not fun!

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    1. Peeing is not usually my issue but since I started fueling with Tailwind, I've had to stop once or twice for that!

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  45. Alright, don't hate me for this one...I've never stopped to poop or pee during a race. And now that I've said this, it will happen during my next race. :)

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    1. And now you've put that out there in the universe...

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