Recently, I was asked how to handle…err… gastrointestinal “issues” while running. Don’t be shy – it’s a given that all runners, especially distance runners, will have their bout with stomach issues. It’s a bit embarrassing, somewhat strange to talk about, but a reality in running and why I wanted to shoot the shit (no pun intended) about running GI issues.
What Is It & Why Does It Happen?
GI issues can range from hitting the port-a-potties all too often or feeling like you want to lose your lunch during or after a long run. Either way, it’s not comfortable. Runner’s World states that GI issues can be caused by blood diverting from your GI tract and rushing to the aid of your muscles, but the more than likely culprit is from running itself (how dare you talk bad about my beloved running, RW!). Apparently, running “jostles” the GI tract and based on various stress levels and the amount of bacteria in your gut, you’re body will signal you to hustle to do your business.
How Do I Make It Stop?
Here are a few of this tips and products that have helped me personally:
I can’t stress enough how personalized the solution is – all bodies react differently so it’s imperative that you test all possible solutions on your long runs to see how your body reacts.
- Stick to the Tried & True
DON’T TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY! I can’t stress this enough – even though it tasted great at the expo or it’s because it’s what they offer at the aid station, don’t use/rely on it during the race; your body may freak out and revolt against you. If you want to use the sports drink they offer during the race, make sure to find out in advance and train with it so your body is used to it come race day.
- Too Much Fuel
I love “sports food.” I use Gu, Cliff Blocks and sports drinks to help fuel my long runs. However, at last year’s LA marathon, I OD-ed on sports food and drinks. By the time the race ended, all of my Gus, PowerBar chews, and sports drinks caught up to me and I yanked in the trash can (yes, all this happened right before I got engaged). Make sure to moderate how much you consume and have a plan of exactly what you will consume going into race day (for me, it’s about one Gu every hour). Then be sure to pack an extra just in case. Also, be sure to follow your “sports food” with water – not sports drink. That may be too much of a good thing.
- Real Food
Since the LA marathon, I have learned that my body craves “real” food to help bring a sense of satisfaction and quiet the sloshing juices in my tummy. This may not be for everyone, so please test this before racing! While they are not the easiest to swallow (have to chug water after), I’ve recently discovered Jammy Sammies. These individually wrapped, organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are perfect for the protein and carbs I crave without the “sports food” effect. I found them at Target in the snack section and they don’t taste too bad either!
- Get It Out Early
It’s a pain to get up earlier than you need to, but it’s worth the port-a-potty agony. Wake up early enough to allow yourself time to eat, drink and digest. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I always have this green tea with my breakfast. Give it 30 minutes and presto! You’ll be taking care of business at home instead of on the course. P.S. This is seriously the best green tea EVER! They sell it at almost every grocery store but it can be ridiculously expensive. I’ve found the best, consistent deal at Trader Joe’s.
There are a lot of other tips out there on how to handle GI issues and all of them depend on your body. What are some of your tips for battling GI issues?
Day 81 : Rest
Day 82: 6 miles