Do Marathon Runners Poop While Running

As a marathon runner myself, one of the questions that I often get asked is: “Do marathon runners poop while running?” It might seem like a strange question, but it’s actually a very valid concern for both seasoned runners and those who are considering taking up marathon running. So, let’s dive deep into the topic and explore the truth behind this often-discussed phenomenon.

The Body’s Response to Running

When you run, especially for long distances like in a marathon, your body undergoes various physiological changes. The most common one is an increased blood flow to your muscles, as well as a redirection of blood from your intestines to your working muscles. This redirection can potentially affect the functioning of your digestive system.

During exercise, the body releases stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can stimulate bowel movements. Additionally, the repetitive motion of running can also trigger the need to empty your bowels. These factors, combined with the jostling of your internal organs, can increase the likelihood of needing to poop during a marathon.

Pre-race Preparations

To minimize the chances of needing to poop during a marathon, many runners adopt a routine before the race. This routine often includes waking up early to allow time for a bowel movement, consuming a light and easily digestible breakfast, and avoiding foods that could potentially cause stomach discomfort.

Some runners also use the restroom facilities at the starting line to empty their bowels before the race begins. This can help reduce the chances of needing to poop while running and provide a level of comfort during the race.

The Reality of Pooping While Running

Despite these precautions, the reality is that some runners do experience the need to poop during a marathon. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see “porta-potties” along the race route for runners to use if needed. When nature calls, runners often have to make the difficult decision of whether to continue running or take a brief detour to find a restroom.

It’s important to mention that not all runners experience this issue, and it can vary from person to person. Factors such as diet, hydration, and individual physiology can all play a role in the likelihood of needing to poop while running. It’s also worth noting that experienced marathon runners tend to develop strategies to deal with this situation, such as timing their bowel movements before the race or adjusting their diet leading up to the event.


So, do marathon runners poop while running? The answer is both yes and no. While some runners may experience the need to poop during a race, it’s not a universal occurrence. The body’s response to exercise, combined with individual factors, can influence whether or not a runner will experience this phenomenon. Ultimately, it’s a topic that many runners are aware of and try to manage through pre-race preparations and adjustments to their routine.

While it may not be the most glamorous aspect of marathon running, it’s just one of the many challenges that runners face on their quest to cross the finish line. So, the next time someone asks you if marathon runners poop while running, you can confidently say that while it’s possible, it’s not something that every runner experiences.