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Why Does My Nose Run, When I Run?

Why does my nose run, when I run?


The weather has well and truly turned and its beginning to feel a lot like winter. As you venture outdoors into the cold air for a run, you may be asking yourself: “why is my nose running so much, when I run?”. It’s especially annoying when you know you don’t get allergies.

I asked myself the same question, as this was happening to me not only during the winter but sometimes during the Spring and Summer too. Running an ultra marathon is hard enough, without constantly getting congested, causing limited oxygen supply when you need it the most.

So, what could the reason for this ‘snot rocket’ generating phenomenon be? Let me try to shed some light on a possible cause for your congestion, by imparting some of the knowledge I discovered whilst scouring the internet for clues. I’ll even give you some tips for keeping it at bay.

The Question

“Why does my nose run, when I’m running?”

The Scientific Answer

“The nasal mucous glands can get inappropriately activated during a number of otherwise normal scenarios. The term rhinitis refers to inflammation or drainage from the nose. About 4 out of 5 cases of rhinitis are due to infection or allergy. 10-20% though, may be due to what is called vasomotor rhinitis (or non-allergic rhinitis), which is an inappropriate firing of the nerves, triggering the nasal mucous glands. People with this disorder may get a watery runny nose when they eat, go into a cold wind, get exposed to strong odors, or even get certain kinds of headaches.” — Sourced from Samuel Mickelson over at

5 ways to deal with your runny nose, when running

So, unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any magic cure available yet, but we DO have some helpful tips for managing your runny nose, whilst running.

  • Try a nasal spray before a run. If you are sensitive to allergies, you could try this nasal spray to stop your nose from running whilst you run.
  • Wrap a Buff headband around you wrist to wipe away any excess snot (for want of a better word!). They are the perfect size for this purpose (smaller than the original the neck Buffs which will end up engulfing your whole arm by the time it gets wrapped up securely). They also come in lots of funky color variations suitable for men and women; who said snot wiping has to be boring?? 🙂
  • You may also consider getting a Buff Original (the larger style Buffs) and cut it in half. Hey presto! Two wrist wraps, for all your snot wiping needs!
  • If wiping isn’t an option whilst your flying down the trails, maybe work on perfecting the “snot rocket”. All that means is closing one nostril, by pressing a finger to the side of your nose and then exhaling through your nose with sufficient force to clear it. Repeat with the other side if necessary. You’ll probably still want a wrist wrap to clean up after yourself. I’m getting quite good at this now, but a little tip; make sure no “non-runners” are near you when you do it, they may find you a bit gross! Haha! Oh and pay attention to the wind direction. Nobody wants to get hit by a snot rocket, let alone you!! Haha.
  • Slow down. This may not be an option for those who love giving 110% on every run, but I have noticed that reducing my exertion level, directly correlates to a reduced runny nose.
Wearing a Buff on my wrist for wiping sweat and snot - Spoken like a true ultra runner
Wearing a Buff on my wrist for wiping sweat and snot – Spoken like a true ultra runner. Haha!


Non-Allergic Rhinitis doesn’t sound like a major health concern, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. But make sure you try out our tips to help make your runs more enjoyable the next time you feel that runny nose catching up with you.

Happy Trails!

If you have any questions relating to this article, please ask away in the comments below. We will answer them, to the best of our ability based on our research and experience.

*Disclaimer – We are not medical experts, and all information in this article has been gathered from our experiences on the trails and sourced from our own research on the internet. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider, with any questions you may have regarding personal health or a medical condition, including diagnosis and treatment for your specific medical needs.

As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


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