I have always struggled with a “weak bladder” – all through my childhood, my mum thought I was too lazy to get up at night to go to the toilet when the truth was, I had no clue I even “needed” to go.
I really noticed an increase in toilet visits in my early 20’s and just assumed this was natural – after all, I didn’t monitor how often other people go.
It was really only when I would be getting up anything up to 8 times a night to go to the loo and my sleep was so broken and I became completely exhausted that I even bothered visiting the doctor.
In time, I was told I had Urge Incontinence (overactive bladder) and all I could do was try to “re-train” my bladder. I would try to hold it in as long as I could and would end up making my kidneys hurt – I would go for my wee and after all that, only a teaspoon worth would come out – was it really worth all that pain and discomfort? I was fed up.
Weirdly when I first started running, it didn’t cause me any massive issues but as I have got faster and run further, I started to find I struggled to control my bladder on a run – even a 5k could result in a full on wetting myself episode – I was sooooooooo embarrassed, I contemplated stopping altogether – even panty liners were useless – I just leaked too much.
I saw an advert on TV for Tena Lady knickers (which shall be referred to as my big girl pants) and decided maybe I would give them a try – just for running in – after all, if there were as discreet and effective as the advert said, who was going to know? I had to find a solution, I wanted to keep running but I couldn’t keep being paranoid about my “issue” and I didn’t want to smell of wee.
My big girl pants have been my saving grace – although I have to use plenty of Vaseline when running in them as they can chafe a bit otherwise. They have made running achievable again and I have recently completed my 16th marathon (2 of which were 30-mile ultra-marathons and I even managed to run 2 marathons in 2 days!!!). I have completed 3 Obstacle Course Races, numerous half marathons and god knows how many other races and I am just 3 weeks away from completing my 12 marathons in 12 months challenge (which I have done in only 9 months).
Do not allow one medical condition to stop you achieving your dreams or enjoying the sport of your choice.
I KNOW how hard it is to buy that first pair of big girl pants, I KNOW how horrible they make me feel – I feel old and unattractive wearing them BUT who cares – who sees them except me? Having Urge Incontinence does not have to make exercise unachievable or not do-able. And, it is a common condition amongst ladies in particular – so if you have it and, like me, want to start enjoying sport again – find a solution and stop worrying about the problem. I did, and so can you.