Recently one of my dedicated readers said to me, “Taylor, you go out for really long runs. What do you do about going to the bathroom on them?”
This is one of the most pressing questions for any runner, cyclist, open-water swimmer, or other endurance athlete. When you’re heart rate is elevated and you’re pumping fluids into your body, a percentage of them are bound to ome out the other end. This is especially true if you like your workouts early in the morning and you’re getting things going after a quick cup of coffee. Indeed, having to go to the bathroom in the middle of your workout is annoying at best. But it’s doubly pressing when you’re in a foreign country. Street layouts are unfamiliar, use-of-toilet policies vary from nation to nation, and too often the pay-to-pee policy of European WCs surprieses the moneyless morning jogger.
But there are some strategies you can use to ensure that when you’re active and traveling your bladder stays empty and your heart stays light. What follows are some of our favorites:
- GO BEFORE YOU GO! Don’t waste the opportunity to use a clean, familiar toilet when you’re traveling. Even if you don’t feel like you have to, stop by it on your way out the door.
- COUNT YOUR PENNIES: In Europe many public toilets will cost a small chunk of change to enter. That chunk can range anywhere from 20 cents to 2 Euros. Try to wear clothes with a pocket or a pouch where you can slip a few coins.
- THE AMERICAN EMBASSIES: By “embassy”, we do not mean those stately Greek-columned mansions that house diplomats from the Department of State. We’re talking Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subway, those fast-food representatives of American culture whose are likely more recognized than the flag of the country you are in. The WCs of these establishments remain free soil – or if they do charge entry, it is usually the lowest price in town. When you get to a new place try to note the locations of these establishments, and swing by them if you need to stop while out on a walk or a run
- HIGHTAIL IT TO A HOTEL: Reception staff doesn’t look twice at travelers in hotels, and unless you look highly suspicious probably won’t ask if you’re staying at that specific hotel. Just look casual as you saunter into the lobby, and they usually hide toilets somewhere in the back.
- THE NATURAL URGE: Many of the forest parks BTG writes up are so vast that you can run for miles without seeing another person. Take advantage of one of those quiet stretches to duck behind a bush, a tree, a small hill, and do your thing. If you have to go #2, make sure you dig a hole and cover it up.
- THE NATURAL URGE, PART 2: Sometimes you can find a bush, a tree, a bridge, or small hill in a city park or along the site of a country road. You can duck behind that too.
- FREE ‘N EASY: In some countries inhibitions are looked down upon as something so laughably American. Taking in and releasing nutrients is part of what connects us as human beings. There’s no need to be embarrassed if you gotta go, and if you gotta big run coming up, you should:
In all, having to go while on the go can be an annoying experience. But it happens to us all, and it’s easily navigable in the end. Before I go, I want to quickly address some WC strategies for athletes of different sports:
- CYCLISTS: Because of your pedal power you can cover vast distanced much more quickly than any of us. Use this to your advantage, and hold it in until you find a good spot on the side of a road or a convenience store with blue Slurpees.
- SWIMMERS: It goes without saying that, as long as you only have to go #1, the world is your ocean. But remember – it will stain if you’re wearing a wetsuit.
- HIKERS: Never go either #1 or #2 closer than 150 feet to a water source, and if it’s #2 ensure you dig a hole and cover it up (and pack out your paper if you can). But above all, always try to pee with a view: