If you have gone long enough and far enough, you have had the experience of needing to urinate while running. Figuring out porta potties, gas stations, and even the right tree for coverage is a part of taking care of our needs while on the run. However, as we age, have babies, or even hysterectomies, the issue of urinating while running becomes a bigger issue. Bladder control and bladder leakage can become a significant deterrent to the long run. Changing running plans and routines to ensure that you are close to the bathroom is not something most runners want to do, especially those of use that have to travel to hit the trails. I have struggled for years with bladder leaks and control and managing the issue while running has not been fun. I have gotten all kinds of advice on how to manage the problem while running.
Some of the advice was well thought out, while others were not. The idea of just wearing black shorts and letting it flow as needed is not something that I am comfortable with. Let’s face it, I drink way too much coffee for that! Other runners would be looking for the coffee shop on the mountain trail every time we passed each other! After years of fearing what might happen, I decided to be proactive and search for my own solutions that would give me protection, comfort, and peace of mind. Something that would allow me to enjoy my runs and not be overwhelmed with the thought of what might happen.
The options for bladder leaks are minimal, but they are out there. I am not a representative of any company and I do not get paid for endorsing any products. With that being said, I will review some products and share the company names with you, only for point of reference. The first thing that I tried was the obvious choice, bladder pads. I used pads from the major manufacturing companies that produce Poise, Always, and Tena. I experimented with level 2 through 4 absorption. What I experienced with the three brands was good absorbency depending on the flow. The level 3 seems to be a sound choice between not enough absorbency and feeling like I was wearing a diaper. The shifting of the pad while moving became an issue very quickly. Therefore, I tried the Always with wings. The placement was more secure and lasted slightly longer than the non-winged versions. However, the adhesive in this version will not come off your undergarments very easily, often resulting in them going in the garbage. The biggest issue for me with all of the pads was chafing. Every runner knows that chafing somewhere on your body is part of the sport. However, getting in the shower after a long run and the water hitting the girly parts will cause screams of pain and turn the most proper lady into a cursing sailor.
The next option are the period and bladder leak underwear that are relatively new to the market. There are several brands available and all have the same basic technology and fabrics. They vary in cost and style. I tried the Knix brand and was hooked. Therefore, I have not tried the other brands and cannot speak about the quality of their products. I tried the different absorption levels and styles that Knix provides. However, I found the super leakproof dream shorts to be the best option for me. I like the boyshort style and the absorption is what I need. They do not make you feel like you are wearing a diaper, but provide strong absorption. The fabric has a nice silky feel and does not hold moisture from sweat. They do not hold odor and have antibacterial properties in the fabric. They do not slide down or crawl up. Are they perfect, no. On long runs (over 10 miles) I do get a little chafing where the seam meets my backside. However, I do not get chaffing in the girly parts and I can easily use chafe preventing lube where that seam hits and not have an issue.
Medical options are also available. For some women, a surgery that will lift your bladder offering less leaks is available. This was not an option for me due to my active lifestyle. I was told that it would not last more than a year. I am not a physician and do not have enough information to review this option. I am mentioning it only as a means of informing you that it may be an option for you. Pelvic floor physical therapy and exercises have shown improvement in bladder control and a variety of other issues related to the pelvis. Of course, the standard Kegel exercises are always a good way to strengthen the bladder.
Bladder control and leaks is an issue that we will all deal with at one point in our lives. Obviously, there are many options out there to help keep you moving forward. Options that are better than just wearing black shorts and letting it flow! I had a hysterectomy at the age of 27 and am now 54 years old. I have been a runner my entire life. I will not stop because of this issue. Like in all aspects of our lives, we adapt, overcome, and run on!
Until next time my sisters!