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Things you’re not supposed to talk about (but as a runner you do…)

Jan 17, 2016 | Running | 30 comments

Embarrassing runners problems

Running is great, most of the time. You can do it just about anywhere, for any length of time with very little equipment. You can run hard, fast, short, slow, hilly, or anything in between. You can run alone, with friends or with complete strangers. Overall, running is great.

It’s also sometimes a little gross.

There are things that non-runners don’t know about, and probably don’t want us to talk about with them. But speaking to other runners about it is like being in a (slightly weird) club. Below are some things that you’re not supposed to talk about…
Snot Rocketing
Pretending not to know what this is? Suuure.

All runners have done this, those that run outside anyway. It’s where you clear the snot out of your nostril, only not into a tissue. Onto the floor. Or yourself accidentally. It’s gross but necessary. No matter the season, I get so snotty when I run and it’s hard to breathe when you’re bunged up.

I can’t help but laughing when I saw this Olympic runner snot rocketing during London 2012.

Runner’s Trots 
Even more unpleasant than snot rocketing, but there is nothing worse than realising mid-run that you have to go. It is very common among middle and long distance runners. I know people (naming no-names) that have ‘gone’ by the side of the River Thames under a bridge, and another that has gone in a forest. Funny for others, not so funny at the time for them.

loos at a race
I’m lucky enough not to have had to stop at a loo during any of my marathons, but know a lot of people do. I also know that I have a weak bladder and so often need ‘potty breaks’ on my training runs, and other races. I actually did have to wee behind a very thin tree just before the Chicago marathon.

Unfortunately not many running routes have bathroom breaks, although this is one plus to most race routes!

Sometime affectionately known as ‘Chub Rub’.

I have had some serious chafing wounds, so much so that I’ve bled, scabbed and scarred in some areas. Sports bras and running backpacks have caused the biggest irritation over the years, however I think I’ve found the right ones now.


Others are chaffed under their arms, inbetween their legs or worse, on their nipples.

I’ve found that decent running attire, plasters and a lot of vaseline can help in most situations. I also suffered with some serious blisters when I didn’t wear the right socks for a 26.2mile walk!


What type of underwear, or lack of underwear, that a runner choices to run in is a very personal choice, and we’re usually quite adamant that our way is the right way.

Personally I’m a commando runner, but you can read all about the different options here.

GPS runner
Other embarrassing ‘Running Problems’ I have expereienced;
Crusty salty face
Gu stains on my running outfits
Being thought of as crazy whilst running up and down my street until I hit a whole mile
Singing along to my music out loud without realising
Wearing flourescents ALL winter
Sprinting the final stetch of a run to improve the time
Running whilst staring at my Garmin to check I’ve got the right pace/distance

Any others to add to the list?


  1. Helen

    I’ve been lucky enough to not have any chafing, but I hate getting a snotty nose when I run! It’s a lot worse during winter too I find. Can’t wait for spring to hurry up. Black toe nails are also another gross thing.. My hands have been really dry too because of running in all the cold weather but running gloves are just too sweaty for me. Jeez, reading this any non-runner would wonder why we do it at all 😉

    • Charlie

      I’d forgotten the black and lost toenails! It’s amazing/funny the body’s ability to foget! Do you use long sleeves with thumb holes? They work best for me as I hate gloves!

  2. Amanda

    I can tick so many things on this list. I only recently learned about snot rockets and quickly learned that it’s very easy just to end up covered in snot.
    Salty crust face is another biggy for me but usually combined with a luminous red complexion that takes a surprisingly long time to go back to a normal colour.
    Loved this post, sometimes it’s good to talk about the gross things so everyone knows it’s normal 🙂

  3. Sian

    Running saying motivational quotes to yourself to keep going.
    Stopping in the middle of a busy place when you just realised you’ve done your first 17/18 miles and jumping up and down shouting yes/ come on! Then having passers by look at you like you are a loony when you want to say I just ran 18 miles!!!

  4. runningprincess78

    Oh goodness, I think all of these apply to me. I especially laughed at the Gu stains on clothing as at the start line of the Paris marathon last year I somehow managed to pierce one of my gels with a safety pin and ended up with a lovely sticky trail of the stuff down one side of my running skirt – not my finest hour lol!
    I would add discussing blisters, by which I mean the positively enormous ones that no blister plaster can cover. I’m not prone to blisters, but once got an absolute cracker during a marathon and had to get it drained and dressed by a nurse. To this day I have no idea how come it happened as I hadn’t changed anything. Oh the mysteries of running!

  5. Laura @ Laura : Fat 2 Fit

    I’ve definitely chaffed before and had the dreaded runners trots and I am known on my street for running up and down until I’ve hit a mile marker! My neighbors find it quite funny.

    I think spitting and losing toenails can also go on this list too!

  6. Mary

    I have genuinely never snot rocketed before! I ran Bristol half a few years ago though. The course has an out and back section along the dual carriageway (which is closed to traffic on race day). The amount of people who were snot rocketing across the central barrier and into the other side of runners was horrible!!! Very gross!

  7. fionajarrett

    I’d have to confess to blowing my nose in my t-shirt while out on long runs when tissues start to disintegrate. It’s so gross but my nose always runs when I run & I reckon my t-shirt is pretty gross by that stage already with sweat, rain, etc… Gross but necessary!

  8. Kayla in the City

    While training for my first (and probably only) marathon, I joked with my boyfriend that it was the antithesis of sexy. Chafing armpits, stomach issues, and blisters became a daily part of conversation. Ah what we do for running….

  9. CARLA

    oh see??? and Im not really a runningrunner and thought I was the only COMMANDO out there!

  10. sweetsonpoint

    I fell so hard once that I ripped by fleece lined Lulu tights. It hurt, but I was too embarrassed to walk, so I hobbled home with a huge flap hanging off my bloody knee. 🙂

  11. Niki

    I once sweated off a layer of fake tan while on a long run which left me with some seriously patchy looking arms with dark brown sweat streaks running down them!

  12. Crystal Renaud

    These are all spot on! I got a nasty wound from chafing just last week from my sports bra. I tend to lube up with Aquaphor. That stuff does wonders for preventing as well as treating chafing.
    I also always run commando! There is no way I want my underwear riding up on me on a run! 🙂

  13. Sam @ See Sam Run

    Yes to all of these! I definitely suffer from crusty salty face after a half marathon. I’ve never snot rocketed, but my team in high school had a snot rocket contest! I live where it’s so cold that I’ve gotten froozen snot/booger icicles!

  14. Lex @ Flecksoflex

    I’ve been fortunate in that I haven’t had to deal with most of these, but the first time experiencing chaffing in unexpected areas and a salty crust face were definitely horrifying for me!

  15. TriGirl

    The salt-encrusted, beet red skin is what happens the most to me. I don’t do snot rockets simply because I’m not coordinated enough to avoid getting them on myself. I once tried to just spit and I ended up with it plastered to the side of my face. So yeah, I’ll just sniff.

  16. Kaci

    I have a pair of snot gloves with fabric on the index finger and thumb specifically for wiping your nose. I laughed so hard when my mom got them for me when I first started running but now I think they’re pretty much the best thing ever when running in the cold. I just have to make sure I wash them after every run or it’s kind of nasty.

    • charlotte

      Wow they sound pretty special!!!

  17. theodorablanchfield

    Where’s that cute bra from!?

    • charlotte

      It’s from Runderwear – wouldn’t recommend running in it but I love it for Barre, Pilates and yoga!!


    Haha! Loooove this! I’m adding black toenails to the list … I couldn’t wear flip flops all last summer because of those suckers. 🙁

  19. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    These things happen to the best of us, and perhaps that’s what draws the running community together so nicely. 🙂 Fun post!

  20. Shannon @GirlsGotSole

    Fun post! Ah yes, the whole potty issue thing happens to me. Mostly on long runs or races. Sometimes, I can get through a race without a problem, other times not. Depends. Chafing is also another painful woe. I’ve had chafing in places that made me scream out during my post-run shower. LOL!

  21. Jenn - a traveling Wife

    I still have yet to perfect the snot rocket. And chaffing – oh, the chaffing. What’s your favorite sports bra? I will be in dire need of a new one once the humidity comes back around.

  22. Smitha (SD Mom) (@RunningwithSD)

    Yes crusty salty face for sure! And no on the underwear! Haha! I still haven’t had to explore the great outdoor toilet but never say never!

  23. myleonelyplanet

    When I go on long runs, I actually take a diarrhea tablet, just to stop the runs because I know I’ll get them if not. It’s a great temporary method, but probably not one that should be done regularly.



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