How to avoid the Porta Potty during a race

This article is for athletes that have to go “pee” during an event.

If you have to hit the porta potty for “other” reasons, read our article on how to avoid runner’s trots.

Have you ever had this happen?
We’ve all seen it and most of us have done it … 30 minutes (or less) into a race athletes are already looking for a porta potty. The bladder is full and they’ve got to go pee! The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. The secret is a proper hydration plan before the gun goes off, and here’s how you do it.

The secret …

First, you want to make sure you are properly hydrating the day before your event. Drink plenty of fluids but you don’t want to over hydrate. If you drink to the point that your urine is completely clear this is a sign that you are drinking too much. Completely clear urine means that you have already peed away many of your critical minerals and electrolytes. This can put you at risk of hyponatremia which is very dangerous and potentially life threatening (see more info). Ideally you want your urine to be a very light yellow. The goal is to go to bed completely hydrated.

During the night your body will use some of those fluids for basic body functions so in the morning you will be partially dehydrated. At this point you need to “top off” your systems before your race so you are fully hydrated.

Get up at least 2 hours before your event

Get up at least 2 hours before your event to eat what ever light snack that you know your body can quickly and easily digest. Over the next hour drink 24-32 ounces of water (or your preferred hydration drink). This should be enough to bring your back to full hydration.

This next part is important:

STOP DRINKING 60 minutes before your event

The water that you have consumed will take a while rehydrate you as the absorption process is relatively slow. Your body probably won’t need all of the water and this will leave time for the excess to make it’s way to your bladder where you can get rid of it before the event.

If you follow this plan you will hit the starting line fully hydrated and your bladder will be completely empty. If it’s convenient, you can drink 4-6 ounces soon before the gun goes off (with an energy gel is a great idea). But don’t drink more than that because your body will not be able to absorb it quick enough, and it may end up going to your bladder. Then you’ll be looking for that porta potty.

The one catch to this plan is caffeine. Caffeine promotes urine production, so if you get up in the morning and have your favorite caffeinated beverage all bets are off. For those that prefer to use caffeine on race day we recommend that you read our caffeine recommendations.

Drinking during your event
Hydration during your event is key to performing your best, avoiding cramping and injuries, and reducing recovery time … watch this short video to learn more

More helpful info …
How to avoid hitting “the wall” in a marathon
How to avoid “Runner’s Trots”
Marathon Race Day Strategy
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