How Do I Avoid Having to Stop to Urinate During My Runs?

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"During my long runs, I frequently have to stop to urinate. Is it possible to avoid having to stop to urinate during a long run or marathon?"

Yes, it is possible. If you find yourself stopping to pee during your long runs, you're most likely drinking too many fluids prior to your run. You should drink 16 to 24oz of (non-caffeinated) fluid 1 hour before your workout or race. Stop drinking after that, and keep emptying your bladder.

Drink another 4 to 8oz of fluid about 10 minutes before you start running, so that you're hydrated when you begin. To replace fluids while running, you should be drinking about 6 to 8 ounces of fluids every 20 minutes. If you hydrate properly like this, you shouldn't have to stop to pee.

Hydration During Running

Some runners don't want to drink while running because they're worried about having to stop to use the bathroom. But if you're running longer than 30 minutes and don't re-hydrate, you run the risk of getting dehydrated. If you hydrate properly, you shouldn't have to stop to pee.

The current advice about running and hydration is very simple -- try to drink to thirst. Scientific evidence says that drinking when you're thirsty can help prevent underhydrating and overhydrating, which can lead to hyponatremia (low blood salt level due to abnormal fluid retention).

If you're looking for a general rule of thumb for fluid consumption during your runs: You should take in 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during your runs.

Runners running faster than 8-minute miles should drink 6 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes. During longer workouts (90 minutes or more), some of your fluid-intake should include a sports drink (like Gatorade) to replace sodium and other minerals (electrolytes) that you lose through sweat. The carbohydrates and electrolytes in the sports drink also help you absorb the fluids faster.

No access to water is not an excuse for not drinking during your runs. There are some great hand-held water bottles and fluid carriers on the market that make it easy to carry your fluids while you run. If you're running in a race, you don't have to worry about carrying your own fluids because they should have water stops on the course.

Still Stopping a Lot?

If you think you're following proper hydration steps before and during your runs and you still continue to feel the urge to urinate or have problems with a leaky bladder, talk to your health care professional.

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