Happy Tuesday to ya!
This morning I ran 5 miles on the treadmill. I felt great after. In fact I was going to write something about that run and why I felt great after but then something happened and it inspired me to write about something entirely different and ultra embarassing….the post that needed to be written. When I was out walking the dogs this morning one of the ladies in the neighborhood commented on my running skirt and how cute it was and asked if there was a reason I’m always wearing skirts….well, there is.
Five years ago, I signed up for my very first 5k race. I was pretty excited about it because while I have run off and on for years, this was my very first foray into competitive racing and I felt completely prepared for it. My hubby and the Kid were there to cheer me on and I was nervous but I felt confident. I lined up at the start, humming aloud as usual waiting for the gun and then, BANG, we were off. I felt good, I felt fast and I felt light….and then I felt wet. Oh My God! I totally just peed my pants! How could that be? I went to the porta potty twice in 30 minutes before the start. I didn’t feel like I had to go? I didn’t even realize it happened.
Should I run off into the woods and hide? Should I run the other way and when I’m out of sight call MacGyver to pick me up? Or should I just run faster and hope that it dries before the finish? I chose the latter option and that’s probably the reason I placed third in my division because up to that point I had never run that fast in my life…ever…period.
The following Monday I called my doctor and informed her that I must have a tumor pressing on my bladder because that’s the only possible explanation. She laughed, hard. She then informed me that if you’re a woman and you run or perform any type of physical exertion that puts pressure on the bladder, it can cause you to leak urine. In fact 30%-40% of women actually suffer from exercise-induced urinary incontinence. In other words, it’s quite common for a woman to pee her pants while running. ‘Are you sure?’, I asked. ‘Yes’, she said, ‘and you just happen to be one of them.’
So what causes it?
Stress incontinence is the most common form of incontinence in women. It often occurs after pregnancy when the muscles and connective tissue around the bladder and urethra weaken or stretch out. Any increase or sudden pressure on the bladder and bam, you pee. It can also be caused by the effects of aging. Another cause is prolapse. Childbirth, aging, prolapse, three strikes, I’m out!
The best thing you can do is talk to your doctor to find out what causes it and what you can do to alleviate or eliminate it.
My problem is caused mostly by prolapse. You see, I live in Clearwater but my uterus lives in Key West somewhere. This is probably due to the fact that when the kid was born, he hung out in the birth canal for around 36 hours deciding to wait til Christmas evening to show up just in time for dinner and he hasn’t changed much over the years. Anyway, childbirth is a common cause.
It also probably didn’t help that as I child I would often ‘hold it in’ just until I was about to burst because I was too shy to ask for a hall pass. You would think that would be the first thing I would do after my first grade experience. I’m pretty sure I peed my pants at least once a week for a solid year. Poor Mrs. Cates got so used to cleaning up my little ‘mess’ she named the mop after me.
Anyway, back to the current day. One of the best things that my doctor told me to do was kegel exercises. They really do help. You can also try timed voiding. That’s when you go to the bathroom on a schedule such as every hour. For women who need a little more help, there are support devices, such as a pessary which will help to keep your bladder in place and, if your symptoms are really severe, there are surgical options. My sister had surgery and her problem is gone. I can’t help but be a little jealous but I’m not quite ready for surgery yet.
You may still suffer from occasional stress incontinence and there are some things you can do to help avoid any embarrassment. I wear a running skirt during almost all of my races. I just feel more comfortable knowing that it helps to hide the obvious. Panty liners are also a good investment and they help a bit as well. You can also visit the porta potty up to the very last minute. It helps me if I lean over a push a bit on my lower abdomen, just to make sure it’s completely empty. And don’t forget your kegel exercises.
But please remember, as a runner, it’s so very important not to become dehydrated, so don’t let this problem affect your hydration and make sure you drink enough water! I’d rather pee my pants than to become dehydrated and perform poorly, seriously I have no problem with that.
You can learn more about stress incontinence here.
At the end of that 5K race 5 years ago, I proudly walked up to the race director and accepted my bronze medal for third place in my division. It could have been the last medal I ever won or the last race I ever ran but instead I chose to learn more about stress incontinence and what I could do about it. I didn’t give up on running and I’m so thankful for that and I don’t want you to give up on running either. It’s very common and it happens to a lot of us. Don’t let it hold you back. Besides if I gave up on something every time I peed my pants, I’d be a zombie by now.
So tell me, would you write something this embarrassing on your blog?