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On Time Travel

On Time Travel

The time at a race waiting for the start, can seem to drag on forever. Then, all of a sudden, it is time to line up and you still have things to do. Things that are crucial to your pre-race routine.

All veteran runners have a pre-race routine. It develops over time as you find out what works best for you and enhances your performance. If you are new to running, you will develop a routine soon enough.

Many last-minute items require a bit of privacy. Things such as applying body lube, glide or what have you. Maybe you need to strategically apply band aids. Maybe you need to change shirts or into your sports bra.

These are not time machines

To do these last-minute items, many of us head to the only source of privacy available at a race, the Porta-Potty.

A few years ago I ran the YuKanRun Half Marathon in Gloucester. I’m usually pretty good managing my fluid in-take and bathroom breaks. This time I got into the Loo Line too late. When I was about 10 people away from relief, the announcer started calling us to line up. Then they played the National Anthem. When they told runners to take their mark and I was 5 people from the door.

I had to jump out of line, run over to the start and find my spot before the gun went off. And I just made it. Off I was with a full bladder, no last-minute stretching or fuelling.

As I settled into the race, I realized that most of my urge to purge was just pre-race nerves and that I would be okay if I managed my fluid in-take for the rest of the race. I had a pretty good race but didn’t perform the way I wanted to.

My current pre-race routine was beginning to take shape in those days. One part was to drink as much as I wanted until one hour before the race and then stop. The other major part of my routine was to get into the porta-potties at least twice, and at least once in the hour just before the race. The closer to the start the better.

On this day I managed to drink all of my fluids, but missed my last break. I managed to get through the race without any issues, but it could have been a disaster alla Utta Pippig.

Tardis. Dr. Who, time machine
This is a time machine.
Photo credit: BBC

So what is the point of this rambler? Well, I was five people away from getting my last break before running 13.1 miles. Many times I have thought back to that day and thought that if the hundreds of people in front of me had managed their time in the magic box just a little more efficiently, I and probably several people behind me would have had sweet salvation.

How to manage your time in the Loo

  • Make sure you have your lube, glide or sun screen handy
  • Make sure you have the clothes you want to change into handy, and not in the bottom of your bag
  • Have your shorts or sweat pants un-tied and ready to go
  • Have your jacket un-zipped if you need to take it off
  • If you need to remove your shoes, have them untied. You know they will get tied in a knot when you try to take them off
  • It’s always good to have your TP started before you start your business. Trying to fish out the start of the TP roll can be a challenge

Things you really don’t need to do in the Loo

  • Take medications
  • Change your clothes, for the most part. Runners are not bashful.
  • Mix your beverages
  • Inventory your pockets or running belt
  • Call mom on your cell phone
  • Sit back and relax
  • Have a smoke
  • Anything not vital to achieving the best run of your life
  • Now get the hell out of the Porta-John, there are 500 people in line waiting!

Check out this related article from We Run and Ride.

What is your pre-race routine like?

Do you have any suggestions to get in and out quicker?

Any pet peeves that you see or hear about people doing?

Run well my friends!


© 2014 anagelin, pub-4167727599129474, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

6 responses to “On Time Travel”

  1. txa1265 Avatar

    Personally I take care of all of my non-potty-specific things before coming to the race, so when I hit the porta-potty it is for a very specific reason. Unless a race has an abundance of porta-potties (most end up with decent lines), anything aside from required time in their is disrespectful of other runners. I have never really had an issue – people always seem reasonably quick going about their business 🙂

    1. Imarunner2012 Avatar

      People are generally pretty good. I have seen people (when it is their turn) stand outside of the porta-potty digging through their bag for whatever they need.
      I wrote this as more of an awareness article than a complaint.
      No one picked up on the Dr. Who refference!

      1. txa1265 Avatar

        So sad that I forgot to make my ‘I want a race where the port-potties are bigger on the inside’ comment 🙂

        Considering my younger son headed to ‘character day’ today dressed as the 10th Doctor … I totally got the reference! haha

        1. Imarunner2012 Avatar

          LOL. I used a handi-capped porta-pottie inside the secured runners area before boarding the bus at this year’s Boston Marathon. It was huge!
          I was in and out in a jiffy and did not see anyone around who obviously needed to use it.

  2. nimuejohn Avatar

    I can’t imagine *wanting* to spend any more time than strictly necessary in the portaloos!

    But then, since the one pictured contains a swimming pool and a library, I think I see your problem right there…

    1. Imarunner2012 Avatar

      When they are calling runners to the start it seems like everyone in front of you is taking forever! At Hopkinton last year I was looking to see if I could run into the woods. They had the woods walled off w/ porta-loos!