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Peeing and Triathlon
by Denis Oakley in

If you are racing for 9 - 17 hours almost inevitably you will need to pee, piss or urinate. If you don't you're probably in some sort of trouble - typically dehydration.

Your pee should be clear or pale yellow in colour. If it is darker than that you are probably dehydrated and need to increase your fluid intake quickly. In a hot country like Malaysia or Singapore it is worth stopping to address this asap. You will save lots of time later - because performance drops off rapidly with increasing dehydration and also if you re dehydrated its likely you've messed up other nutritional aspects and have a much higher chance of bonking.

So you need to pee? What do you do? These are techniques that I've picked up from other athletes and have not necessarily practised myself.
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Swim

You'll always get into the water before the race either for a warmup or a water start. If it's a land start the easiest thing is to pee standing up in your costume just before the race starts. Everyonbe else is nervous enough that they won't recognise the facial expression or slight muscular tensing. The ground is likely to be wet from everyone coming out of the water after their warmup. If this is uncomfortable practice in the changing room showers at your local pool with your swimsuit on. If using this technique it is far better to be wearing short type swimming suits than ones cut away at the crotch. That said there are very few people who go around looking at peoples crotches so you should be ok.

Peeing in the water is harder due to the external pressure on your body and the the fact that you have to squeeze harder than you are used to. This can comfortably be done whilst treading water but it generally takes several attempts to empty a bladder - depending on your style of treading water.

Peeing whilst swimming. This is quite a hard technique to master. On a long swim you may find the pressure in your bladder builds up. One solution is to stop and tale a break for a minute and have a pee whilst treading water. This has the benefit of giving you a breather, improves sighting, and potential finding a nice draft when you start again. You obviously lose time though. Alternatively you can pee whilst moving. This is quite difficult as you use the core muscles a lot to stabilise your stroke and at the same time need to contract your bladder to squeeze out. This does need to be practised quite a lot before race day as you can experience quite a lot of stroke disruption as you practice. Please do NOT practice in a swimming pool.

Cycle

Here again you have two choices. The issues are similar to swimming but there are important psychological barriers to overcome. Toilet training is remarkably effective and few people are comfortable urinating in their clothes. You have three choices here. Use provided toilet facilities - these could use up a lot of time, they are often few and far between, they're not there when you need them. The second choice is to go by the road. Men are a lot more comfortable at this than women - but under race conditions the following is usually true for both women and men. Yes you are peeing by the side of the road, Yes, anyone who goes past does know what you are doing. People cannot see your private parts, and they can't see the pee. Hide behind a tree if it makes you more comfortable but don't spend too much time faffing around. There is a great product for ladies that allows for peeing standing up. A small plastic device that can be quickly rinsed with some water afterwards - available from cotswold outdoor in the UK that I know of.

However stopping cots you lots of precious time - so why not pee on the bike? Pee won't damage the bike - not after you've been giving it a sweat bath for the last 5+ hours. Equally if your cycling shorts are not soaked with sweat in the Malaysian climate - well are you doing an Ironman? One advantage of  cylcling or tri shorts is that the shammy leather acts as a reservoir releasing any urine at a slower rate and reducing the psychological discomfort. It does run down your leg though which is a bit gross. Tough. Smell is generally not an issue unless you are very dehydrated  - and so is a good secondary test. If you smell of pee afterwards drink more water. Otherwise it will all be washed away by your sweat and no one will know.

Run

In many ways this is similar to the cycle. The question here is a little bit more focused on stop or not. There are usually far more toilet facilities on the run route and combined with more runners and spectators . . . The biggest argument for not peeing as you run  is that you get wet shoes and this may harm your performance(unlike all the other options in the first two stages). If its raining, your feet are wet already or you are confident that any discomfort won't effect your speed go ahead. As with everything do practice in training first.

Again by this stage your are tired and a lot of the usual niceties of civilisation have been stripped away from you. I remember seeing Paula Radcliffe (on video) to pee during a marathon. She just stopped, squatted, peed, pulled up and ran. Learn from the leaders and the speeders.

Toilets stops in a run are often another excuse to slow down and not carry on running. If your having GI issues now most of the time ytou can comfortably stop in the bushes and wash with a quick spray from a cup or bottle that your carrying. If you're not 100% clean don't worry about it. You already don't want someone smelling your shorts (I hope not anyway) especially if you have followed the advice of parts 1 and  2. It is not recommended to try and cope with GI issues whilst running. There is a smell impact which can be offputting psychologically and spectators can react adversely if there are visible signs. However if stopping is likely to mean not getting on a podium - shit your pants and keep running.

Edit - a couple more tips from Vinnie

1) Peeing while on the move, can give you blisters towards the end of the race. Your shoes are eventually get wet anyways, but peeing is a 100% hit shot that this will happen, thus increasing chances for blisters.

2) Peeing is a "legit" excuse for a stop and to get yourself back together. Take your time to pee and get back into running once you are done!!


I hope that this advice is of help - more comments form your experience will really help improve this artivcle for other triathletes facing the full bladder dilemma

1 comments:

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