How Do Marathon Runners Pee

Have you ever wondered how marathon runners manage to go the distance without taking bathroom breaks? It’s a question that has intrigued me as both a running enthusiast and a writer. So, I decided to dive deep into this topic and explore the fascinating world of how marathon runners handle the call of nature during their races.

First off, let’s acknowledge the fact that long-distance runners, including marathoners, spend hours on the road, pushing their bodies to the limit. And when nature calls, they can’t simply take a detour to find a restroom. So, how do they manage to relieve themselves without compromising their race time and position? Let’s find out.

Pre-Race Planning

Before a marathon, runners carefully plan their fluid intake and bathroom breaks. They aim to hydrate adequately in the days leading up to the race to ensure their bodies are well-hydrated without overloading their bladders. By doing so, they can minimize the urge to urinate during the race.

The Art of “Going On the Run”

During a marathon, when the need to pee arises, runners employ various strategies to relieve themselves without stopping. Some marathoners are skilled at the art of “going on the run.” They train their bodies to urinate while maintaining their stride, minimizing the loss of momentum and time.

The technique involves a combination of relaxation and muscle control. Runners relax their pelvic floor muscles while tightening their core and gluteal muscles to control the flow of urine. It takes practice and coordination to master this skill, but many marathoners have become adept at it.

Strategic Aid Stations

Another tactic used by marathon runners is to take advantage of strategically placed aid stations along the course. These aid stations, typically located every few miles, provide water, snacks, and sometimes portable toilets. Runners can make a quick pit stop at these stations to relieve themselves if needed.

However, it’s crucial to note that stopping at a porta-potty or aid station can cost valuable time and potentially disrupt a runner’s rhythm. Therefore, runners try to minimize this option unless absolutely necessary.

Disposable Solutions

In some cases, runners may resort to using disposable devices specifically designed for urination during races. These devices, such as urine collection bags or female urination devices (FUDs), allow runners to pee discreetly without needing to stop or expose themselves.

These devices are typically lightweight and easy to use, providing a quick solution for runners who prefer not to interrupt their race. However, their usage varies among individual runners, and some may opt for different methods or rely solely on the aforementioned techniques.

Mind Over Matter

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning the mental aspect of managing bathroom breaks during a marathon. Elite runners, who compete for top positions, often train their minds to resist the urge to pee until after the race. They focus on maintaining their pace, ignoring distractions, and pushing through discomfort to achieve their goals.

While this may not be feasible for everyone, it demonstrates the incredible mental fortitude and discipline required to excel in long-distance running.


The question of how marathon runners handle bathroom breaks is an intriguing one. Through a combination of pre-race planning, the art of “going on the run,” utilizing aid stations strategically, and sometimes relying on disposable solutions, marathoners find ways to manage their bodily functions without compromising their race performance.

Next time you see a marathon runner effortlessly gliding past you, remember the hidden challenges they face and the strategies they employ to overcome them. It’s a testament to their dedication, resourcefulness, and endurance.