Out of all the race-day tips you'll ever read, perhaps none are more important than these six tips to help you poop before a race.
Wake Up Earlier Than You Have To1 of 7
If there's one tip that will make your whole race morning go more smoothly (no pun intended), it's to deprive yourself of an extra hour of sleep. Trust me, your adrenaline during the race will replace the energy you would have gotten from that extra shut-eye, and you'll be so glad to have the cushion once Murphy's Law starts destroying your carefully orchestrated race-day plans.
For some, the added pressure of having to poop in a hurry might help (see tip four below), but most of us would prefer not to be pressed for time while sitting on the throne. So wake up early, eat your race-day breakfast and then be glad for the time to allow nature to take its course.
Eat, Drink and Be Regular2 of 7
Did you know that your race-day breakfast has more benefits than just fueling your upcoming run? It turns out that one of the best ways to get things moving in the morning is to eat something. That's because eating triggers peristalsis—the natural contractions of the intestinal tract that move waste out of your body. Exactly what, when and how much you eat depends on your normal diet and how your body has reacted to certain foods in your training runs (something you should practice several times before race day). It is notable, however, that many runners and coaches advise against eating a high-fiber or fatty breakfast the morning of competition.
Another way to jump start the elimination process is by enjoying your cup of morning Joe. Studies have found that coffee—both regular and decaf—can help trigger a bowel movement. Though scientists aren't sure why coffee works (it's not the caffeine, so skip the soda), it has proven time and again to be a reliable, mild laxative for around 30 percent of the population.
If you're wondering whether other supplements (magnesium, for example) or natural laxatives (such as prune juice) are a good idea, remember: If you haven't tried it out in training, you'll have no idea when and to what degree the effect might kick in—it could be right before your race starts or halfway through. So, again, the cardinal rule of race-day prep: If you haven't tried it in training, don't try it now!
Grab Some Alone Time3 of 7
Do you have trouble pooping with other people around? If so, you're not alone. This can be a big problem for lots of runners thanks to the nature of racing. If the event is far away from home, you're probably staying in a strange location the night before. To save money, you might be shacking up with family or friends, or sharing a motel room with a fellow runner. Even if you're running a local race, maybe you've got a houseful of people who will be up when you are, milling about and getting in your way just when you head off to take care of business.
Whatever your situation on race morning, you've got to find a way to get some alone time. Following tip one can help, but if it comes down to it, you might just have to ask everyone around you to beat it and give you some space. You can try to think up a creative reason for them to leave, but trust me, if you just tell them you can't poop with them around, they'll go away faster than you can say, "Number Two."
Think About the Race, Or Not4 of 7
For many runners, the nervous energy created by just thinking about an impending race is enough to get things moving. However, some runners find that nervousness has the opposite effect. You probably know which one you are, so act accordingly: If you need to be relaxed to make it happen, try reading, check your Twitter feed, watch a little TV or quietly meditate. If you happen to be the other sort, then stress away.
Seize the Moment5 of 7
Whether you've followed any of the previous tips or not, you must read and heed this one: When you feel the urge to go, do it! Even if you just kind of think there's a tiny chance you might have to go, do it. Even if you've already gone twice and there can't possibly be anything else, do it. If you're worried that sitting in the bathroom again might get you to the race a little bit later than planned, ignore that worry and do it. And if you're standing around before the race and you notice that the Porta-Potty line is getting longer, and you wonder if you should grab a spot in line for one last try, stop wondering and just do it!
Bring Your Own TP—Just In Case6 of 7
Having to stop mid-race to use the loo is a definite bummer, but what's worse is not being prepared to do so. If stopping to go makes you feel flustered--if you let it get inside your head—your whole race could unravel. However, if you're prepared for this possibility ahead of time, chances are good that you can make up the extra few minutes. Stash a bit of toilet paper in your shorts, just to be safe, and think of it as mental reassurance—if you have to stop, you'll be okay. You'll use the time to stretch and catch your breath, and when you're done, you'll be a little lighter on your feet.