How To Avoid Stomach Problems While Running

Kati CraigTraining TipsLeave a Comment

how to avoid stomach problems while running

How To Avoid Stomach Problems While Running

It’s easy to stay hydrated on runs under an hour, but as you advance to longer distances, you may experience runs of another kind! Improper pre-run fueling, over hydration, under hydration, and trigger foods can contribute to stomach distress. If you have experienced nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, or diarrhea, read on. Most of the time, with a little planning and experimentation you can avoid or drastically reduce the impact of these problems on your running. Let’s take a look at how to avoid stomach problems while running.

how to avoid stomach problems while running

1. Start your run well-hydrated and properly fueled

This means for long runs, you want to hydrate the day before. You know you are well-hydrated when your urine is light yellow to clear. Dark urine is a sign of concentrated urine (dehydration). Eliminating or reducing intake of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages the day before the race can help prevent dehydration. Another thing to consider is to bring a water bottle with you on your run or plan a route with water sources along the way.

More: How to stay hydrated during your summer runs.
2. Foods to Avoid

Certain foods can cause stomach distress. Some individuals also have particular trigger foods that are uncommon to most, but can just ruin runs on a regular basis. A personal example – for a number of months, I was drinking a small glass of orange juice prior to my early morning runs. Every day during the run, I was experiencing stomach distress. By chance, I had a week with no oj, and a week of a perfectly behaved stomach during my morning runs. In general, the following are trigger foods that lead to stomach distress. Reducing their consumption is how to avoid stomach distress while running.

DAIRY

Milk, cheese, white sauces, yogurt, butter can all lead to stomach problems.

SPICY FOOD

Try to steer clear of turmeric, cumin, cilantro, peppers, even sweet spices like mint.

GREASY FOOD

This is a no brainer – so pass on the Pepperoni Pizza for your pre-race carb load.

LESS FIBER

Fiber reduces transit time and is therefore synonymous with GI distress.

DIURETICS

Caffeinated drinks and alcohol are diuretic, which means they will make you dehydrated.

3. Keep a Food Diary

Just like you keep track of your runs, keep track of the food you eat and the effect it has on your body. If you suspect a food is giving you stomach problems, try to eliminate it for a certain period. After a while, return to it and see how it affects you.

4. On the Run Tips

Your body can only process about 8 oz of fluid every 20 minutes. Keep this in mind at water stops – and for timing of water stops. Another mistake that many new runners make is over hydration during the run. Too much fluid, and your body won’t be able to process. It will sit and slosh around in your stomach leading to nausea and vomiting. Over hydration also can cause hyponatremia – a condition where your sodium has been diluted by too much water. Runners with hyponatremia can experience fatigue, swelling extremities, or mental confusion. Things you do not want to deal with during a training run or a race!

Related: Plant Based Diet for Runners
When All Else Fails

Okay, so you tried all of the above, and you still cannot determine the cause of your troubles. It is always wise to visit your medical provider for advice. Do you have tips on how to avoid stomach distress while running? Share them in the comment section.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line (no pun intended) is that many runners of all levels experience stomach problems while running. Stay hydrated, do some research and experiment to figure out what causes your issues. Be sure to keep a food diary to pinpoint which food are causing issues. Dairy, spicy or greasy food or diuretics are common offenders so keep an eye out for those.

About the Author

Kati Craig

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Kati is a master’s prepared Nurse Practitioner board certified in family practice. She currently practices Internal Medicine in Florida. Kati has a special interest in wellness. Her graduate studies focused on behavioral interventions for weight loss. She is certified in Plant Based Nutrition. Outside of work, Kati is an avid runner, and... Read more about Kati


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