If there is one thing runners want to avoid during a race it’s an upset stomach. Every person that I’ve run with or even talked about running with has their own method of avoiding what I like to call the “Runner’s Gut.” I’ll let you figure out on your own what the Runner’s Gut really entails. Personally, I’ve been defeated by this on multiple occasions. Whether it’s been too much in my stomach before or during a race, or recharging with the wrong things after, it can make your day VERY unpleasant. Here I want to give you a few tips on how to avoid the Runner’s Gut.
TAKE A POTTY BREAK. This may sound a little obvious, but it can’t be understated. While you want to have energy in your body to sustain your workout, you also want to get rid of whatever doesn’t need to be in there. Get up a few minutes early, or start to move around a little while before your race. This will get your digestive tract up and going, which will get your food moving through as well. It’s much better to make that bathroom trip before as opposed to during your run. Just take my word for it.
AVOID TRIGGER FOODS. Everybody has those certain foods that they just don’t get along with. One of my favorite recovery drinks is chocolate milk. Some people can’t handle chocolate milk. Unfortunately finding your trigger foods may take some trial and error. But, once you find what works for you, and more importantly, doesn’t work for you, go from there
REPLACE CARBS FIRST. You want to get a mixture of carbohydrates and protein following a run of any kind. They don’t have to come at the same time, however. It is optimal to get them both simultaneously, but it is often much easier to get carbohydrates in first. They’re much easier to carry and store than protein sources, so sometimes that may be all that’s available. Carbohydrate sources are usually easier on the stomach, as well. A quick fix here would be a banana or a high-sugar drink like Powerade or Gatorade.
WAIT A WHILE. There’s nothing wrong with waiting a little while to get some food in your stomach. I personally don’t eat a large meal for a few hours after I run. My stomach likes chocolate milk and bananas after a run or race, and nothing else. I’ve learned the hard way to listen to it, so I avoid most foods immediately following. There is no harm in that. Trust me, you don’t want to become prisoner to the bathroom because you couldn’t wait an hour to down that extra-large pizza.
The physical pounding on the pavement takes enough of a toll on the stomach during a run. Sometimes this alone can lead to a queasy or upset stomach. So you really don’t want to exacerbate any problems. Keep your diet simple during runs and don’t try anything new on race day. Do that and you should be just fine.
Post contributed by Brock Jones. Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.