The Trail Runners Guide to Pooping in the Woods (And Other Gross Stuff a Trail Runners Gotta Do.)

Everybody knows trail running is sexy, but Instagram rarely shows whats going on behind the scenes. Turns out we are all human (except maybe killian Jornet #superhuman), we all do gross human stuff. While everyone is excited to jump on the Trail and Ultra Running facebook group and discuss in depth the great Suunto vs. Garmin debate, nobody wants to talk about the more philosophical questions like, "Does a trail runner poop in the woods?" and, "If no one is around to hear it does it make a noise?"

To the first question, the answer is Yes. The second question the answer is, of course, no, silent but deadly. Below are a few more gross things that will happen while trail running and how to deal with them, and number one, about number 2, is likely to ruffle some feathers.

The elusive mad pooper and copy cat poopers around the US are doing it all wrong.

The elusive mad pooper and copy cat poopers around the US are doing it all wrong.


1. Poop

This is probably going to get a lot of blowback. Some folks can be pretty finicky about their pooping habits, but I am going to share anyhow, and I stand by my remarks.. Shit Happens. Sometimes that shit is going to happen when you are miles deep on the trail. No worries. If with company, politely excuse yourself from the trail and find a secluded area away from public view, preferably with a nice view. Kick a reasonable sized hole in the dirt. Enjoy the view while you relieve some pressure.

Here comes the controversial part... wiping. The best thing to use for wiping in the wilderness is rocks. Yes, rocks. Triangular rocks are best for getting in all the nooks and crannies, but really most any rocks will do.  I don't care if you want to run the rest of your 100k with just one sock, but if you are foolish enough to wipe with your sock, DO NOT LITTER. If you choose to wipe with baby wipes, DO NOT LITTER. For those that are still unaware trail patrons, TOILET PAPER IS ALSO LITTER, so if you pack it in, pack it out.  

Some of you will still be skeptical to use rocks the first time and instead try to use leaves from nearby. Thank you for not littering, but now you have poop on your finger... gross. You should have used a rock.

Oh, and bury your poo, and don't poop near water sources.

2. Boogers

Yup, there will be boogers. From all of us sharing the from the same bowl of M&M's at the next aid station, please do not pinch them off, or wipe them on your hand. Instead, use a buff, or an arm sleeve, or better yet, learn to snot rocket without getting boogers on your shirt.

Coach Levi's Award Winning Snot Rocket Formula

1. Use right thumb to push closed right nostril.
2. look under right armpit.
3. Snot rocket like you mean it.
4. Repeat for other side.

3. Sweat

If your not sweating during your run, you are probably not doing it right. To some extent, sweat is going to be a fact of a trail runners life. My suggestion, date only people who appreciate the smell of hard work and ambition, but there are a few things you can do to keep the stink under control.

Synthetic fibers, for many reasons, is ideal for outdoor athletics, the downside is that synthetic fibers can really work up a stink. For this reason never store your running gear still wet. It will become a petri dish for stinky bacteria. Also, consider wool socks as it offers many of the benefits of synthetic socks, but with half the stink.

4. Vomit

Unlike sweat, vomit is not a sign that you are doing it right, however you are not the first person to vomit during a trail race and you will certainly not be the last. Your best bet is to avoid vomiting by training your gut and practicing your fueling strategy before race day. If you must vomit hopefully it is not immortalized by the race photographers. 

Are you a staunch defender of the "My toilet paper is not litter crowd?" Let us know your feelings in the comments. Put a little something nasty in there too and leave it right out there in the open for others to stumble upon.