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Gratitude: For Running, Trails, My Mind and My Body

May 5, 2012 Comments (8) Musings, Training

Pee Running: Extreme Ultrarunning Skills!

peeing statue

The following statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, CDC, or FBI. And, this is what we call “Tounge in Cheek” humor friends…

Among the most underground and fascinating ultramarathon skills in the ultramarathon play book is, “Pee Running”.  Dean Karnazes fascinated me when he spoke about the subject in his best selling book, “Ultramarathon Man.” He described the strange droplets on the trail during a race, asking himself why the other runners were pouring out fluid from their bottles. It was then he realized the runners ahead were urinating and running at the same time.   I wish to explore this topic with as much scientific oversight as possible while I type here in my basement at 2am eating a vegan corndog.

In all seriousness, it is not the technique I wish to discuss!  I want to take on the very question of whether it makes mathematical sense to urinate while running during an ultra. What are the advantages? How much further might someone get in a race if they were to master this technique without any risk of urinating on their favorite kicks? Thankfully, I will call on my day job skills as traffic collision reconstructionist to apply some simple math to these questions. At least, we can all sleep soundly about whether to work on this technique any more in our long runs.

The Friggin’ Science!

-There are 5,280 ft in 1 mile.

-Therefore, the following ultra distances, when measured in feet are:

50k = 163,680ft

50mi = 264,000ft

100mi = 528,000ft

According to my own non-scientific calculations performed under non-sterile conditions, the average time to urinate is approximately 30 seconds.

Given a pace of 6 mph (10 min/mile), an ultrarunner will travel 31,680 ft in 1 hour.

Given the assumption that a runner urinates 2x per hour, the total time spent urinating would be 1 minute. Therefore, in one hour of running, if that person stops running to urinate for 30 seconds two times (1 minute), they would lose 528 ft over a runner who could maintain the 6 mph pace and urinate at the same time.

Given these same assumptions, a runner who urinates 2x per hour over 8hrs in the 50k distance, would lose 4,224 ft of distance in comparison to the runner who can run and urinate at the same time. Converted back to mileage, in a 50k, we are talking over  3/4 mile!

Once again, I have thrown assumptions into this…those being the time it takes to stop and urinate, the frequency of the urination, average speed, etc.. We all know those vary…

Application of the same data produces the following staggering statistical comparisons:

50k: 2x urination per hour, 30 seconds per urination (8 hr race) = . 8 miles

50mi: 2x urination per hour, 30 seconds per urination (12 hr race) = 1. 2miles 

100mi: 2x urinate per hour, 30 seconds per urination (30 hr race) = 3 miles

I just put my corn dog down. This is serious stuff right here!  I had to do these calculations again because my mind is blown! I also found it strange and fascinating that my assumptions produced the exact quantified numbers you see above.  It’s almost like there is something much more mysterious going on here… I am starting to wonder if the Free Masons are somehow involved. One thing is for sure, I just earned my Pulitzer.

Does it makes sense to run while urinating? Damn straight it does!

8 Responses to Pee Running: Extreme Ultrarunning Skills!

  1. Sherpa John says:

    Definitely one of my all time favorite posts by you Jerry. You have an incredible sense of humor and I appreciate you treating us runners as you would if you met us on the street. This post is hilarious. Thanks!

  2. EnduranceJer says:

    Thanks Sherpa! Run long and prosper!

  3. Brandon says:

    This is something I never thought of, I was too busy thinking about where I was going to pee which wasted even more time. Usually when I have to go its not too late, but late enough. 2X per hour seems like a lot, but with proper hydration I guess its not too much.

    I am going to have to try this out. How many runners look behind themselves as they run anyways.

  4. leeapeea says:

    Snot rockets are one thing, but I think I’d have a fit if I got pee’d on at a race. Some people get paid good money to get pee’d on!!! 😉

  5. @ultrailz says:

    one of the best and most informative running articles I have read, but more importantly, the best article about pee-running of all time. I take longer than 30sec to pee, so I bet I can save 4mi worth of pee time in my next 100. The next post should be about what sock absorbs the most pee? Gotta go wool on that one…

  6. […] this right here at so I’m going to send you there for this one. HERE is a link. Bottom Line: You really don’t make up, or save, any time by peeing on the run. In most […]

  7. Scott K. says:

    Furthermore, if you drink your pee (think Bear Grylls) you won’t have as many stops at aid stations, saving even more time. Hydration pack companies should work out a solution for ‘re-filling’ your own pack!

    • Russell says:

      I heard that the Salomon trail running team was testing a super-secret compression suit that recycles sweat and urine like the Dune stillsuit.

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