What to Know About Using the Bathroom While Running a Marathon

What to Know About Using the Bathroom While Running a Marathon

Running a marathon takes immense physical and mental stamina. Along the 26.2 mile journey, runners often have to address bodily functions like needing to urinate or have a bowel movement. While these needs can feel uncomfortable or embarrassing, they are a natural part of the human experience that deserve compassion.

Preparing Mentally for Pit Stops

Knowing you’ll likely need a bathroom break at some point can help you prepare mentally. Remind yourself that all marathoners have dealt with this, and there’s no shame in listening to your body’s signals.

Scoping Out Portable Toilets Along the Route

Most marathon courses will have portable toilets spaced every few miles. Check the route map ahead of time to identify their locations. This way you can plan when to stop based on how you feel.

Staying Hydrated Without Overdoing Fluids

Drink enough to stay hydrated, but not excessively as to irritate your bladder. About 6-12 oz every 20 minutes is a good guideline. Adjust based on your body’s signals.

Keeping Steps Efficient During Pit Stops

When stopping to use the bathroom, walk briskly in and out to minimize time off course. Hand sanitizer afterwards can save time versus thoroughly washing.

Letting Go of Judgment

If you need to stop to use the bathroom, don’t judge yourself. It’s a normal biological function. Let go of embarrassment and stay focused on listening to your body with compassion.


How often do marathoners need to use the bathroom?

Most marathoners need to stop at least once to urinate given all the fluids they consume. Some may also need a bowel movement along the long route.

What types of toilets are available during a marathon?

Races provide portable toilets spaced every few miles. These are basically plastic porta potties without plumbing.

How can I avoid needing the bathroom as frequently?

Consuming fluids at a moderate rather than excessive rate can help your bladder. Avoiding high fiber foods in the days before can ease bowel needs.

What should I bring with me for bathroom breaks?

Hand sanitizer is very useful for quick clean-up after using marathon portable toilets. Toilet paper and personal wipes can also come in handy.

Should I hold it if I have to go?

No, absolutely not. Ignoring your body’s signals can lead to urinary tract infections and other problems. Respect your bodily functions and don’t hesitate to take a quick restroom break!