How to Shoot the Perfect Snot Rocket and Other Handy Runner Skills

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Runners spend a lot of time outdoors and away from creature comforts such as (clean) restrooms. The longer the run, the greater the chances of developing the need for such a place of privacy. Here is some expert advice and skills shared by pros in the field on how to deal with certain calls of nature while on the run. 

Relief From a Runny Nose

Cold morning, pollen season or the last spasms of the flu are all conducive to taking your equally runny nose for a run. Depending on the severity of “the run”, the options usually include:

  1. The Wipe: You’ve seen them at mile 22 on your marathon, taking out a Kleenex from the dedicated Kleenex pocket in their running shorts and proceeding, very properly, to blow their noses privately and quietly. Of course, they hang on to the used tissue and dispose of it in the bin at the next aid station two miles on. You didn’t have to wait to hear their accent to know that they’re British.
  2. The Sniff: To sniff and sniff again (and again and again). The sniffing is of course much worse if it is not YOU who is doing the sniffing, but the guy running next to you.
  3. The Swipe: Winter tops with thumb-holes are generously long for this reason and make for very effective swipes. Sweaty hands and forearms not so much. But that is what you have and make do with during summer.
  4. The Blow: This act, very far below point 1 for good reason, goes by various names. Some call it The Farmer’s Blow, but shooting a Snot Rocket describes it more aptly. And once you have mastered this skill, you will never revert back to points 2, 3 or, heaven forbid, point 1. Yes, I’m talking to you too, Girlfriend!

Snot Rocket 101

Blowing the perfect snot rocket isn’t all that hard, but it will take some practice to get it right. Experts recommend you first do these “not-so-dry-runs” while out solo, because you may end up taking some on the chin. Initially, you may want to stop for The Blow, but later it will be possible to take The Blow in your stride.

First step is to check the wind direction and to make sure that nobody will be in the line of fire, including yourself. Then take a deep breath, cover the other nostril with an index finger and lean to the side of the nostril you are about to clear. All it takes is one mighty, forceful blow and you should be breathing freely. Repeat on the other side if needed.

Going on the Run: For Him

When nature calls, men have the advantage of being able to go on the run. Ryan Sandes, South African ultra-trail runner and winner of 2017 Western States 100M found that acquiring the skill of taking a leak on the run can be very helpful. Not only will it save around 30 seconds at a time, so two minutes overall for four leaks on an ultra, but it will also prevent competitors from seeing a gap to put down the hammer.

Ryan was taught the valuable skill of “going on the run” by Dean Karnazes and says there are a few rules and handy tips. Again, the direction of the prevailing wind plays a vital role. “If there is wind, you definitely want it at your back!” The next rule is that you have to be running on even ground. Which goes without further explanation when you think technical trails. Once you’ve made sure no other runners will suffer any consequences, Ryan recommends that you run a little sideways and aim a strong stream into the nearby vegetation. It took him two years of (fairly messy) trial and error to get this perfected, he says. The hardest part was learning to let go while moving because whichever muscle controls the act is only used to do it while motionless.  

Going on the Run: For Her

Ladies may not be as lucky as guys that can do it in their stride, but there are some handy tips and garments out there that can make this task a whole lot easier. If ever you’ve lined up for a portaloo before a race, not with a pee but with the harrowing fear of developing one, the following is for you.

Finding yourself amid a sea of runners and nowhere private to pull down your shorts? There are a couple of options which will afford you the most privacy and allow you to stay relatively close to the course (perhaps not entire ON the course, okay?)

  1. First prize is if you can lay your hands on a trap-door-skirt. These handy “Gotta-Go” running skirts have nifty little trapdoors that you can open and “go” privately without lifting your skirt and exposing your nether regions to the world. You could also compile a similar combo by wearing stretchy briefs beneath a running skirt which can be pulled aside discreetly.
  2. If running shorts is your garment of choice, pulling them down for an emergency tinkle is also not your only option. Experts in this move suggest you kneel down on one knee with the other leg in front for stability, so almost in a deep lunge position. With one hand in front and the other in the back, pull away the fabric of your shorts towards the front and to the back to be clear of the stream.

Points to Ponder

Practice makes perfect and nailing these skills can save you much time, frustration and potential embarrassment on a race or a run. However, it is very important to always consider:

  • Other runners, making sure your relief doesn’t ruin their run
  • Innocent bystanders, making sure you don’t ruin their day with certain visuals or collateral
  • Your immediate environment, those who it belongs to and those who have to use with or after you