It’s early. Really early. So early you can finish this run and get ready for work and be there on time. So early you woke right at the alarm and headed straight out the door, skipping your usual pre-morning run routine. Today is a good day for an out and back, you think. So you head 3.5 miles out the lonely quiet road and turn around. And of course, as Murphy’s Law dictates, just as you’re at the farthest point from home base (and a bathroom) nature calls.
You try to ignore it. The impulse subsides, only to come roaring back like a wave. You make it three waves or so before you realize you are going to have to take care of this business or the business will happen anyway. In your shorts. You look around and see neighborhood houses or trees or open fields or whatever, but no official places to do your business.
What the heck are you supposed to do?
First, let’s discuss what not to do. This, for instance:
The pooping on the building. The doing it more than once in the same public spot. The surveillance cameras. The no wiping (seriously, wtf?) All. Wrong. Here’s what you need to know about pooping on the run the right way.
Where to go.
Always try to find a toilet. Maybe there’s a house under construction in the neighborhood and a port-a-potty for the construction workers. Maybe you know there’s a Starbucks half a mile away. Maybe your brother’s girlfriend’s great aunt lives not too far. If there’s a known toilet within a mile of where you are, do whatever you can to hold it and make it to the toilet. McDonald’s, Libraries, whatever. Use their toilet!
If you can’t hold it or there is no known toilet, then you’re really going to have to improvise. My first choice is always woods. There’s an access drive through the woods that’s overgrown on one of my potty-less neighborhood routes and that’s where I peed when I was pregnant. It was cut back just enough that I could get through, but not too much that there was no cover. If you poop, definitely think about where you could go that would provide a little privacy and would not be an intrusion on someone’s life. Unlike “Malicious Fecal Deposit Lady,” avoid private property if at all possible and definitely avoid going in the middle of where other people have to be – like in someone’s driveway or something like that! I like to find a place where I can cover it. I figure cats gotta know what they’re doing.
If it’s just pee and I’m wearing shorts, I squat, pull the shorts to the side and pee. I can pretty much make it look like I’m tying my shoe. I’ve never tried pooping without pulling the shorts off. In theory it should be able to work, but I really don’t want to carry any souvenirs home from a woods poop, so I have never tried it.
If I have to go outside of a toilet, I don’t bother wiping if it’s just pee. After three kids, I always have a little pee in the shorts anymore so what’s a little more? And really, it’s nothing a quick hand wash won’t take care of.
If it’s #2, wiping is a must. If you’re going on a long run and are in doubt about the availability of a toilet, consider bringing TP in a sandwich bag. If you find yourself TP-less and toiletless, go for a big leaf from a tree. Make sure it’s a tree. DO NOT WIPE YOURSELF WITH ANYTHING THAT MIGHT BE POISON IVY.
Ok we’re going to get into the nitty gritty here. Sorry, we gotta go there. When you wipe out in the woods, especially with something like a leaf, it’s not going to do a perfect job, but it’s better than nothing. Use more than one leaf if you have to. Use one hand and make sure to keep the other hand out of that business and clean. That way if you have to wipe something out of your eye or blow a snot rocket, you have a clean hand for the job. Also, be sure to hit the shower and change ASAP. You don’t want a UTI from the bacteria sure to be on your shorts or tights.
If needing to go becomes a regular problem.
Of course, if needing to go on the run becomes a regular problem, you should plan your routes to include bathrooms if possible or consider taking steps to avoid the urge.
If it’s pee you can’t hold, don’t drink within 45 minutes of leaving for your run. That has helped me during pregnancy and those early postpartum months when I have a harder time holding it.
If it’s poop, I find waking up at least 45 minutes before running and having a half a cup of coffee is enough to empty things out. I also avoid ice cream and alcohol the evening before an early morning run. They just don’t work for me. You need to experiment with what works for you. Coffee, no coffee. Roll right out of bed, wake up a certain amount of time before hitting the roads. One summer, I found that even with coffee I still had to go during my long runs. So, I tried immodium for long runs and it worked great for me. It causes drowsiness in some, so definitely keep that in mind if you try it.
For more on this subject, read our poop posts.
So dear readers, tell us about your most harrowing “gotta go” experiences. And please, please share your tips for stealthy pooping!
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