Running Etiquette–Potty Breaks?

Posted: August 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Hey hey hey!!! How goes it? I’m doing well…although about ready to face plant into my pillow. I think I just may do that too. I have a long run tomorrow and we all know that busy life I lead needs some good rest. PS – Did you catch the giveaway in that busy life post? Hint hint. Wink wink.

Now onto the tough questions of life running etiquette. Yesterday afternoon I ran three miles. Whenever I run in the afternoon, my fuller bladder wants to go into overdrive on me. Towards the end of my run, I passed a gas station and really considered stopping in to use the facilities.

But then it hit me – I would only be stopping in to potty. I didn’t plan on buying any gas to go (have enough of that already) and didn’t even have any money on me.So, I told myself to keep it (the pee) to myself for another five minutes and wait to go at the end of my run. I had to stop in the store anyways to pick up some baby formula for B (that whole stopping nursing thing – which your comments blew me away over, so thanks!).

I almost faced a dire situation with my bladder bursting like a water balloon by the time I made it…but I made it. And felt reassured that I took advantage of a bathroom break where I planned to shop. Side note: You have no idea how good this wall of hydration looked after that run…

So, the dilemma – running etiquette: what are the parameters to using a public restroom? Help a girl out!

I do find it odd though that I worry about using the bathrooms but could care less about walking in to a public place smelling like a giant pit stain and looking like Clifford the Big Red Dog slobbered all over me.


I will force my overly rank state of body on you, but don’t worry – I will be polite about using your potty. Ha! Now, come to think of it, these places probably wish I would either a) not come by at all or b) use the bathroom…as long as I use the sink for a quick wipe down. You should have seen the cashier’s face last night when I walked up. I truly think he grimaced. Perhaps I should start thinking of that running etiquette too? Winking smile 

On the bright side, I didn’t look completely like a drowned rat! I wore another piece from the Champion line of workout clothing I’m reviewing as part of their Shape Your Life program. You saw me hanging out in the clothes a bit earlier in the day, when I went to the park to play with the family.


The Champion Double Dry V-Neck T-Shirt worked so well for me. I love that it contoured in all the right places for a flattering fit. It also felt extremely light and breathable, which I greatly appreciated both while playing with the kids at the park and when on my run in the afternoon heat. And I can say without a doubt that the moisture wicking capabilities are top notch! I love not having to run with a heavy, soaked cotton shirt. I now kind of want one in every color – Acid or Sequin Pink, please! Smile 

You also see me wearing the Smoothing Knee Pants in the above picture. I can give you my review of these real simply.


Favorite. Workout. Pants. EVER!!!!! They make the booty look gooood with a little smoothing and lifting action. They move so well with the body and are tremendously comfortable. They fit at just the right height for me in the waist – enough to tuck things in and keep things smooth….but without feeling like grandma. The pants do come in a bit thicker material, which can make them a little more warm (I didn’t wear them on my run, for example), but for in the gym or when it isn’t Hades outside, I can’t go wrong with these. I have to keep myself from not plucking them out of the dirty laundry! But that doesn’t surprise you considering earlier parts of this post, does it? Ouch.

  • Running etiquette - what are the parameters to using a public restroom?
  • Will you go in public places sweaty after a workout?

The review in this post is sponsored by Champion and I received monetary compensation for my participation, but my review and opinions are my own. I only ever participate in programs that I see naturally fit my blog and that allow for honest feedback. Thanks!

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53 Comments to “Running Etiquette–Potty Breaks?”
  1. Jessica says:

    …smelling like a giant pit stain and looking like Clifford the Big Red Dog slobbered all over me. I almost choked on my cereal while reading this.

    Sadly there are no public restrooms on my run routes (10 miles tomorrow and no place to pee=fun times). But I never use a public bathroom without buying something, it just feels wrong.
    I started bringing a clean t-shirt with to the gym after getting a whiff of myself in Target one day..pu!

  2. Well, I use public restrooms when I’m on a road trip without buying anything, so I don’t really think about it when running. I honestly have only REALLY had to stop at a public restroom once on a run (I was 5 or 6 miles away from home) and didn’t feel guilty one bit! I was happy it was there – it would’ve been a loooooong run home!

  3. Beth says:

    I’m just like you! I won’t use the restroom a place I’m not patronizing (I think it has somehting to do with using resources that I’m not in contributing towards, so I feel like I’m stealing). I never think twice about goig into a store after a sweaty workout (and ALL of my workouts are sweaty). I used to go grocery shopping immediately after my marathon long runs. The timing was just so convenient!!

  4. I say if ya gotta go….go! I know I couldn’t wait. 🙂

  5. You gotta do what you gotta do! Use the potty girl!

  6. Liz says:

    I don’t know what others think, but my theory is usually, if you give the place business already, or intend to in the future, it’s okay to go in and go to the bathroom if you have to go. There have actually been times before where I’ve intentionally gone back later and bought something (e.g., and iced coffee at DD) as a thank you for restroom use!

  7. I usually hold my pee too! Feels kinda invasive to just run in for that and run out.
    I might have to buy these pants, btw! I’ve been looking for some new stuff to teach in.

  8. I think as long as you don’t stop during EVERY RUN at the same store and never buy anything it’s safe to stop in and pee. It’s one thing to make an emergency pit stop when you need to, but it’s another deal if you only go into a store for its facilities over and over again. Does that make any sense? After all, when you gotta go, you gotta go!

  9. I don’t feel bad using the bathroom at a store that I frequent. I figure if I go to Starbucks 3x a week and never use the bathroom…it’s like I have a bathroom credit 🙂 I usually bring my check card or some cash in case I need to stop into a store I’ve never patronized.

    Also, I have that Champion shirt. It’s so comfy & wicks so well!

  10. Yeah, I agree with some of the ladies above. If you shop there already or intend to later I think its okay. And I have been known to run into the grocery store post-workout because there is a Kroger right by the gym!

  11. Chelsea says:

    I can’t wear colored t-shirts to workout in because of the pit stains I create! I create them without exercising too!! It makes me choosy about clothes I buy to go dancing or the colors I wear when it’s 115 degress outside!

    I have the same reservations about using people’s restrooms, but there have been emergency situations!

  12. Living with ulcerative colitis, I have no shame when it comes to public restroom usage. When you gotta go, you gotta go. I think hotels have the best bathrooms, so if the urge hits when I’m close to a hotel, those lobby bathrooms don’t stand a chance!

    I *do* try to buy something if I run in to a store to go potty, but I don’t let it stop me if I have nothing to buy.

  13. Tough question! I have personally not done it before. While waiting for my leg to start for the Cabot Trail Relay I pulled a squattie in the bushes but that’s about it :D. It’s funny though…I have no problem going into a coffee shop or gas station to use the washroom during a road trip (even if I don’t buy anything), but it’s true that it’s a different story when you’re sweaty. If my bladder was about to burst I think I would go for it!

  14. Amy Lauren says:

    I have no qualms about using a public restroom when running. Chances are it can’t be any worse than a porta potty, or stopping a run to squat behind a bush (which I’ve also done). As for not buying anything, I wouldn’t buy anything- unless the store said the restroom was for paying customers only, in which case I’d have to find another store because I don’t carry money or debit cards on my runs.

    I don’t think it matters if you’re not a customer at the store- having to stop and pee unplanned on a run pretty much qualifies as a bathroom emergency (as we used to say in elementary school- it’s an emergency!) so yeah…

    Love the new pants, btw!

  15. I have gone to both Publix and Walgreens to use the restroom during a run. I figure I go to both place enough (and I do!) that I can reap the benefits!

    Of course, I’ve also peed in a bush and used porta-potties on construction sites (not the best experience – but kinda necessary). When you gotta go – you gotta go!

    Cute pants — you look amazing!

  16. Great post! This is always something I’ve wondered how other people handle. The areas I run have a couple public parks that I pass by with public restrooms. I’ll use those if I need to. As for going to places after I’m all nice and sweaty…only if I’m desperate.

  17. Coco says:

    I say gas statios, McDs and grocery store rest rooms are fair game!

  18. Kara says:

    When you’re running, normal rules don’t apply. Normally I’d buy something to use the bathroom, but if I’m running, then all bets are off.

    I’d kill for public bathrooms. Normally I’m trying to find a bush before I poop in someone’s corn field.

    Note to everyone: Wash your corn well. Just saying. 🙂

  19. Alicia says:

    Look at that booty!! You look great! Workout capris are my favorite- they are the perfect length! I have only had one situation where I needed to pee so bad that I stopped- I was only doing a 3 mile loop but needed to stop after a mile and a half (at my house) to make a pit stop!

  20. Heidi Nicole says:

    I’ve stopped by a gas station just to pee while on a run…more than once. Sometimes I get a weird look but I look the like a runner in desperate need of a bathroom so yeah…

    Public places post run? Sure, why not, especially if the sweat has dried a bit and I don’t smell horrendous!

  21. cathy says:

    NOTHING worse than holding it in when you gotta go! i’ve peed myself before after waiting too long – glad you made it, tina!
    i actually just find a hidden spot in the great outdoors. on all my roots i have some tucked-away nook where i can go. i wouldn’t feel comfortable always using a donut or fastfood shop restroom on a regular basis…but if it’s an emergency, throw caution to the wind and get comfortable!
    i love reading the variety of responses to this question!

  22. AJ says:

    There are no potties on my route, so I can’t chime in on the PC potty use. I CAN, however, TOTALLY relate to the “squaties” in the woods. You just haven’t lived until you have been forced to: A) Choose an appropriate place to relieve yourself in an area with absolutely NO apprpriate choices for said “relief” and B) Find an appropriate substitute for toilet paper in an area with (you guessed it) NO appropriate choices for the aforementioned substitution. Ahhhhh. Ya gotta love the overshare… 😉 Cute pants! Maybe I’ll go get some as I just tossed EVERY pair of running shorts I own. Florida, sweat, summer, stench…you know the drill.

  23. I don’t think it’s a big deal to use a restroom during a run even if you aren’t going to buy anything. If you gotta go you gotta go! If you feel bad, just try to make it a point to stop and buy something from that store the next chance you get. 🙂

  24. Haley says:

    I agree w/ most of the others, but for me, as long as there’s not a sign that reads “Restrooms for customer use only,” then they’re all fair game! Also, you can check w/ your state to see if the fire houses are considered “public.” For example the public is allowed to visit & use the restrooms at any fire station in VA. I ran the Richmond Half Marathon last year, & we runners were informed of this very nice option to using the oh-so-disgusting port-o-johns!

  25. Katheryn says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is. If you need to use the bathroom, use the bathroom. No big deal.

  26. Clifford the Big Red Dog, hahahahah!!!

    I’ll pee anywhere. Doesn’t matter if I’m gettng something. I pay it forward.

  27. I’ll use one if it’s an emergency and figure the gas station karma won’t be too out of wack because of all the times I buy gas and don’t use the facilities 😉

    And yup! If I need to run an errand sweaty, I do it. Pretty sure I went to vote once totally stanky!!

  28. Bonnie says:

    Fun post, Tina! I am actually all for stopping to go to the bathroom – anytime, any place on a run. In fact, today I stopped right by the river – scrambled off the trail, went, and was back on my way – I have no problem going in public on highways either. 😉 I’m actually more likely to go outside though, somewhere behind a tree or bush, than in a place where I’d feel like I have to pay or ask for the key. Gas stations are great options as most of the time they’re fine with it. Happy running (and peeing lol)!

  29. Lisa says:

    I’ve never had this issue! Ever! (knock on wood) but what about carrying $1 with you to buy a Gatorade or water in order to use the bathroom?

    I’m lucky because where I run I’m close to home or work or I’m at the gym!

  30. Holly says:

    If I really need to go, I will stop somewhere. If I feel like I can hold it, then I do. However, most employees don’t care if you actually purchase anything or not and probably don’t think twice about people only using the restroom, especially at a gas station. They’re probably used to that with people going on car trips and stuff anyway.

    I definitely go into public places all sweaty after a run. I feel a little self-conscious sometimes, but when it comes down to it, I have no shame.

  31. Lindsay says:

    I have NO problem stopping at a gas station or even aquantances houses if I need to go to the bathroom. I have known to stop at one of my parents co-workers houses if I NEED to go to the bathroom. I will ALSO stop at ANY gas station or restaurant if my body needs the bathroom. I do not see the point of waiting if I REALLY need to go! 😀

  32. Ooh, good topic:) Honestly, if I have to go that bad, I’ll just stop. I’ve stopped in gas stations before and it’s been fine. I also stopped in a Potbelly’s once! I’ve also made a pit stop in a hotel. It might not be right…but it’s what I do. I do feel a little weird when I do it, but it’s worth my bladder not bursting…or using a portapotty 😉 ha!

  33. RunEatRepeat says:

    If you have to go – GO!

    If I’m on a road trip or something I always make sure to buy something when I use the restroom, Ben knows the drill and goes to the counter for a drink or something while I rush to the ladies room.
    But, all bets are off on a run. I feel like it evens out.

  34. I only use the bathrooms along my running route, and that happens very, very rarely. I once had to go really badly and there was nothing open at 5:45am, so I had to hold it because I was 3 miles from home. Hello, uncomfortable!

    And I’ll definitely go into a public place all sweaty. Sometimes it’s more convenient to do it than to go home, shower, and then go out again. We do what we have to do!

  35. Khushboo says:

    I would have gone in the gas station,…where accidents are concerned, prevention is better than cure! :)! I tend to hit up the supermarket quite often after a workout- I’m not sure how well that goes down with fellow shoppers 🙂

  36. Lara says:

    I feel strongly about this. If you have to go-go! I usually have to go at least 2 times during my runs and I have several routes where I can stop and pee. These places include: woods, a single large tree with little pedestrian traffic, porta potties and a few coffee shops or gas stations. I’ve noticed a huge difference in attitudes about this. My “serious” runner friends have no objection to this. My “recreational” runner friends are more shy about it. I’ve squatted more times than i count in front of bushes and trees in a public place. If you, gotta go, go. Don’t hate :0

  37. Diana says:

    I had to pick up some essentials (snack food, I was hungry!) after the Queens half marathon – it was 90 degrees outside, I smelled absolutely rancid, and I had mud all over my legs. So, yea, not a whole lot of shame over here! 😉

  38. Hilary says:

    I love workout wear that has good shaping action! I actually never have the bathroom problem on long runs, so I can’t help you there. It’s funny you should ask about going places sweaty after runs…’cause I’ve been thinking about that today and debating whether or not I want t o get groceries after the gym today….I’m bringing a light sweater to cover my stench, so I think maybe I will!

  39. I would probably stop if it was a #2 emergency — but other than that it has never crossed my mind to stop to use the restroom somewhere. The path I take for my long runs has a porta-potty at about the 7 mile mark which was perfect — I could run there, use the bathroom and turn around and run home.

  40. My thing is, when you gotta go, you gotta go. I try not to drink too much before a run so I don’t have to pee, but I think most citizens would appreciate me illegally using a bathroom than peeing on the side of the road, right?

    Also, this is probably TMI but when I really have to pee my stomach gets super distended to the point where I look pregnant (I am not kidding or exaggerating, even my dad has commented on it). So I’ve always said that if nature calls and I’m denied access to a public restroom, I’ll push my stomach out even further and use the pregnancy card…

  41. Rebecca says:

    This made me LAUGH because just the other day, I was running in the farmland with a group of friends and two of the girls had to go BAD. There was not a public restroom for miles. So one of the girls runs up to an Amish lady sweeping her front porch who either hardly spoke English or could hardly hear and asked to use her bathroom. After a lot of hand waving and pantomine, she finally got the point and the two girls marched inside to a dingy unlit potty. It was one of the funniest experiences ever…Only in Lancaster County. 🙂

  42. Katie says:

    I try to stop in a place where I spend a ton of money anyway (ahemstarbucks) because I figure all the business they get from me, I’ve earned a free bathroom trip or two! I do the same thing on roadtrips or just when I’m running errands and really have to go 🙂

  43. Bari says:

    I’m not above using a gas station restroom, but I usually don’t stop places to shop after a long run. I’m so gross I offend myself.

    I did use a tree for the first time during today’s run. Not sure on the etiquette for that either 🙂

  44. I have no hesitation about going in a store sweaty. Most of my grocery trips are on my way home from the gym! Sometimes I leave an extra shirt in my car to throw on if I’m too sweaty.

    I think if you are a frequent customer of a place, you can use their restroom, even if you aren’t a customer at that time. My favorite running route passes by one of my favorite bar & grills, and I have taken running restroom breaks their multiple times! They even offered me water a couple of times!

  45. Claire says:

    Oh man…I will just just about any and every bathroom (and not TOUCH a thing in them); when you gotta go, you gotta go!!

    As far as going places after a workout…I used to. I don’t anymore. Call me a “priss” but I don’t want people seeing my red face and skin. Being a red head…I get REALLY red in the face after a long run and am pretty self conscious about it. Sometimes I even swell a little bit…not attractive! You look a LOT better than I do after a run, lady!

  46. Theodora says:

    I *try* to stick to the places-I’ve-been-or-will-go-in-the-future rule, but if I really gotta go, I gotta go! I once went into my favorite bagel shop that I go to all the time to use their bathroom after a run and got totally called out on it. Oops.

  47. Lee says:

    I definitely have used a public bathroom while running.

  48. […] Running Etiquette – Potty Breaks? […]

  49. Elisabeth says:

    I have no problem with using a public restroom if I gotta go! I’ve walked into McDonald’s several times to use the potty, and I wouldn’t otherwise step foot inside McDonald’s. If I gotta go, I gotta go…it beats peeing my pants. =)

  50. […] Double Dry V-Neck Shirt & Smoothing Capris […]

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