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A Survival Guide to the Grossest Things About Running

Sometimes, our bodies don't cooperate while we're running. Here's how to handle the unexpected.

Let’s face it—running isn’t always pretty. A physical activity that lasts a long time can sometimes cause conflict within our own bodies, and the results can be…well, less than desirable.

Thankfully, this is hardly uncharted territory. Runners have dealt with issues like these for a long time, and many of us have emergency protocols in place to deal with them. It’s time to share them with the world.

RELATED: 10 Healthy Habits of (Insanely) Passionate Runners

So whatever your issue is, be it snot, gas, a full bladder or even worse, just know that you’re not the first! And read on to get solutions straight from the experts.


Farmer Blow/Snot Rocket

Running without being able to breathe isn’t any fun. Neither is trying to blow your sweaty nose in a rapidly disintegrating tissue. Which is why knowing how to execute an efficient snot rocket is almost as important as tying your shoes.

1. Only perform this trick outside—it’s a serious gym foul for treadmill runners.

2. Make sure no one is in your immediate vicinity.

3. Take note of wind direction and adjust your angle so that you aren’t excreting into the wind.

4. Take a breath, most likely through your mouth since your nose is clogged.

5. Close off one nostril by laying a finger or knuckle against it.

6. Turn head, aim, lean or twist in the direction of the open nostril and fire away by exhaling forcefully, repeatedly if necessary.

7. Repeat on the other nostril.

8. Give your nose a quick wipe (the knuckle method makes this quick and easy).

9. An ideal farmer’s blow should be like your cadence and in-step with your stride, quick and light instead of slow and drawn out—practice!

10. Make it a game, and see if you can recognize your running partners by the way they blow.

Passing Gas on a Group Run

If it was audible:

1. Offer a brief apology

2. Keep running


1. Pretend it didn’t happen

2. Keep running

3. Find a new running group


If it was silent but deadly:

1. Offer a brief apology

2. Keep running


1. Pretend it didn’t happen

2. Give no indication of your mortification

3. Step up the pace to find fresh air


1. Blame it on someone else

2. Look around the group in an accusing manner

3. Make a childish quip about beans

4. Find a new running group

Peeing on the Go

For when you need to go on the go, and there isn’t a bathroom in sight, guys have it easy. But women are creative and we have two discreet methods you can try the next time you’re in a bind.

Lunge Pee

This method only works if you are wearing shorts, a running skirt or non-compression boy shorts and is magic when you have to go one more time before the start of a race. When done properly and at the right angle, no one will be the wiser.

  1. Stand away from the crowd, ideally on grass to prevent splatter.
  2. Go into a deep side lunge.
  3. Discreetly pull your shorts liner to the side (you’ll have to practice to see which way works best for you—note it may change after having children).
  4. Pee and drip dry.
  5. Return shorts to their starting position.
  6. Squat to the other side for balance and to maintain the facade.


Squat Pee

This age-old squat technique is a good back-pocket option when the only options for relieving yourself are port-a-potties, short bushes and extremely dark areas.

  1. Yank your shorts down so the waistband is hovering just above your knee.
  2. Assume the squat position, holding onto a nearby tree trunk, large rock or another object if needed.
  3. Check your positioning—as is the case for any proper squat, your rear should stick out far enough so you don’t accidentally dampen your shoes or draping shorts. (If you do, no hard feelings—we all do it.)
  4. Pee. Give it a little extra power to make the stop quick and efficient. This also minimizes any excess from, well, you know.
  5. Pull your shorts up in one swift motion, and continue on your run. Never look back.


Runner Trots

First things first—don’t panic. Urgent bodily functions respond negatively to distress, so you’re only encouraging the crappy situation if you clench, tighten up or react in any way.

If you are familiar with the run route—like you know the homeless guy who bathes in your favorite bathroom—then get there by jogging slowly or walking. A common mistake is to speed up the run to beat the explosion; oftentimes a slower, cooler approach works best against the bowels. Mind over matter, people.

If you’re not around any indoor plumbing, the only option is the next hidden or secluded stop you see. When you gotta go, you gotta go—just do your best to make it quick and immediately head home or back to your car to…change. (Note: If this is a common worry on a regular basis, wear dark bottoms and have a back-up piece of dignity in your trunk.)

If all is lost and the deed is done, take peace in knowing that you’re not the only one. Tie your shirt around your waist, waddle back to your car and Google “Paula Radcliffe pooping” to make yourself feel better.