When you’re racing for 9-10 hours, how do you manage to use the bathroom?
When you gotta go, you gotta go! This is a great question, though it’s one that might be embarrassing to ask (and embarrassing to answer!). When you’re racing for a long time (9-10 hours is typical for my triathlons), and drinking water and sports drink every 10-15 minutes to stay hydrated, you eventually have to go to the bathroom. So what do you do?
Well, before the race I make sure to go to the bathroom about three times…if I’m really nervous, it may be more!
On the bike…now this is an interesting one! There are usually port-a-potties at every aid station on the bike portion of the race—these stations crop up every 10 miles. But, as a professional triathlete, I am racing for money so any stopping is time wasted. Which means I don’t usually use those portable toilets. I find it easiest to pee when going down a hill. I stop pedaling and lift my butt up off the seat a little and relax. (The key is to relax!)
I also try to go to the bathroom right before I get to an aid station so that I can grab some water to wash off a bit. It takes a bit of practice to get good at it, but once you have it down you can do it easily.
Now if you have to go #2 on the bike, I would recommend stopping to use the facilities. (Although I have heard of people not stopping on the bike or run for that!)
Same goes for the run. I try to stay relaxed and pee right before an aid station so that I have water to rinse myself off. On the run there are usually port-a-potties every mile, so sometimes it’s just as quick to go in there to take care of business. If not, then finding some bushes or trees is a good option for a quick pit stop.
The next time you find yourself needing to go to the bathroom while racing, remember: it’s normal. Go ahead, stop pedaling, relax and let loose a little!
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter, follow Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and follow Amy @AmyCMarsh.