50 Shades of yellow (another runner’s obsession)



As the weather warms and the humidity rises, hydration becomes even more key and adds to a runners daily obsessions. Pee, a true runner is obsessed with it….how many times did you go, how much did you pass and most important of all, what colour was it?

‘Pale straw’ seems to be the favourite urine colour of choice amongst the health and fitness gurus of the moment. In fact, I even heard a well known TV doctor pick the same colour when giving tips out about surviving a heat wave (so not recently then). There should be the equivalent of a paint chart for pee, 50 shades of yellow, a guide to your health and hydration. You could keep a copy by the loo for a quick colour match to see how much water you’d need to quickly guzzle. I’m so obsessed I’d have to carry one in my handbag! Imagine the thought that could go into naming the assorted shades just like paint. Where could you go either side of ‘Pale straw’ ? ‘Over ripened straw’, ‘dehydrated daisy’, ‘amber nectar’, ‘weak and waterlogged’….I could go on.

Yes, this is a genuine urine colour chart, even worse, my blog research has found a website called urinecolours.com

It is a big issue though, not being properly hydrated can lead to fatigue, headaches or much , much worse. New runners however can get carried away, you can drink too much water and as a consequence wash all the salts and electrolytes out your system. Did you know more runners have dropped out of the London marathon for drinking too much water ‘hyponatremia’ than not for drinking enough? You don’t need a drink every mile for 26.2 miles just because it’s there. I hate carrying a water bottle, if it’s not hot and I’m not out for more than 90 mins, I never take one. I actually find it makes my shoulder ache, I feel out of balance and once you’ve started drinking it ( ‘cos if it’s there you do) I can’t stand it when it’s sloshing about in my hand half empty when the other half is sloshing about in my stomach too. Trying to get new runners to free themselves of the water bottle is a challenge, they clutch those bottles at Park Run like their legs won’t work without them. It wouldn’t even enter my head to take a drink for a 5km, a glass when I’m home after feels fine. Now that I’ve finally got a sub 50 minute 10km, there’s no time to stop at the water point, that’s too much time taken, again, if it’s not hot and I feel OK, I plough on.

I do need my water however, we all do. I’m a ‘headachey’ person and have suffered a lot after long or hot runs. For me,the secret to stopping those headaches coming on a couple of hours after a long run was to be better hydrated. It bizarrely took a few years of running to work it out plus in the heat and humidity I add an electrolyte tablet to my glass of post run water which I find really helps stops the headaches.The SIS tablets work for me.

Science in Sport

Being better hydrated means drinking more water ALL the time. I upped my water intake significantly every day and the difference was marked. I’m not talking these crazy super-model, ‘I drink 4 litres every day’ levels…..let’s face it, there just isn’t the time in the day to pee that much, but I do drink a litre on top of my usual tea and coffee intake. Drinking even more in the couple of days before a long race is the best idea, make sure all those cells are hydrated to the max. What’s not to like, we all know our skin and digestion will also benefit from the extra water too, women’s magazines have been banging on about it for years.

Sadly all experienced runners will know that drinking gallons of extra water on the morning of a run or race isn’t the way to go. Within 20 minutes you’ll just be at the back of that portaloo queue or want a tiddle within the first mile and be seeking an obliging pub or secluded hedgerow. Running has in fact made me realise how many local public conveniences have now been closed completely. Never one to avoid a challenge and blown away by the length of the portaloo queues at the London marathon I gamely tried the female urinals, now that was an experience.I warn you now ladies, it’s not as easy as it describes.Stretching your lycra to basically pee down a cardboard funnel was a source of huge hilarity to all attempting it and you’ll pleased to know hand sanitiser was provided! ( How did that lady on ‘The Full Monty’ do it ????

Work it out, it’s not that easy !!

It is only ever at these moments I have ‘penis envy’…. we gals are so secretly jealous when you chaps pop off behind a tree to ‘shake the snake’, no effort, no risk of debilitating nettle stings. For us ladies a ‘wild wee’ is fraught with danger. Once you’re committed there’s no quick escape if another runner stumbles upon your path. If your lycra doesn’t have enough give, it’s a messy affair. If your quads aren’t up to the job, its a trembling, sweat inducing procedure and for someone who avoids mud at all costs, the mere thought of pissing on your own trainers brings me out into a cold sweat!

My pee obsession started way before I started running in my days as an avid gym bunny. I think a water company ran a promotion and helpfully left a urine ‘colour chart’ in the changing rooms and I realised that I was unhealthily off the scale. I’ve always been a passionate fan of black coffee, still am, always will be, but sadly peeing black coffee out not dissimilar to how it went in suggests poor hydration! Would it be too gross to say it probably smelled of back coffee too? Since then I have a daily quest for ‘pale straw’and I feel better for it. I’d love blog some more, but I’ve got to go ……………..



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