More on the Runs

In my travels today…ok, in my attempts to focus that have failed, since I have only one more day before I go back to being a teacher…I found some additional information about what causes upset stomach and gastrointestinal issues during running. Some of these are very interesting. They are from Jeff Galloway’s book Galloway’s 5K and 10K Running, and are in list format in one of the later chapters:

  1. Running too fast or too far.
  2. Eating too much or too soon before the workout.
  3. Eating a high fat or high protein diet.
  4. Eating too much the afternoon or evening, the day before.
  5. Heat and humidity.
  6. Drinking too much water before a run or walk.
  7. Drinking too much of a sugar/electrolyte drink.
  8. Drinking too much fluid too soon after a run or walk.
  9. Letting workouts be stressful to you.

The point I personally find most interesting is #3, about eating a high fat or protein diet. The book was first published in 2008, which isn’t that long ago, and I know that low carb diets have been in vogue for quite a while. I know athletes that swear by the Paleo Diet, and they don’t seem to be struggling. Of course, not many people are excited to talk about their GI distress with their friends. Galloway seems to advocate for a balanced diet, which makes a lot of sense with his overall even-keeled approach to training.

In the big picture, the chapter explains that overall, GI distress is a response to total body stress. With that in mind, #9 is probably the biggest thing for compulsive people like me to be mindful of in determining a training plan. Workouts can be stressful, and I certainly feel my share of jitters before I hit the next week of my program, which increases time and distance every Monday. I’m sure that proponents of a mindful approach to running have some good advice on de-stressing. I plan to take a look at that research next.


Staying Cool

It has been incredibly humid lately here in Connecticut. Today, I went out for a run around 6:45am. It was 72 degrees outside (awesome!) but with 87% humidity (yikes!). What to do?

I’ve been trying out some of the tips that I received at the last PATTalk at Fleet Feet West Hartford, on running in the heat. One of the most important in sustaining my runs has been to keep my core body temperature down by cooling my palms and neck. After the fateful “Run of the Runs” last week, I purchased a FuelBelt Sprint bottle. Incredibly light and easy to carry and switch from hand to hand, it has been a lifesaver. I fill up and freeze the whole 10oz bottle after each run, and it is ready to go by the next time I head out. The ice melts gradually so that I can drink as I need to, but stays mostly solid and very cool. I tried another tip recently, which was to keep a cool, wet bandana around my neck. That really helped, also. I tucked the ends into the straps of my tank to keep it in place. Thanks Pat, for giving really practical advice that is easy to implement.

With all of those things in place, I can happily report that I PR’ed this morning, both at the 5K distance and my mile time. And, I can say that I’m taking better care of myself as a runner, and taking important steps in preparing my body to be efficient. Since self care has not always been my forte, I’m psyched to be building a good foundation for my health.

Runs with the Runs

During my last couple of runs, I have gotten…err…the runs. The first time, it was in the middle of my final interval of a four interval training day, in the middle of some wicked humidity. All of the sudden, BAM! Thankfully, there was a natural Port-a-John area nearby, and I was able to take care of business. Embarrassing? Yes. Helpful, absolutely. At the same time, I was experiencing nausea, so I would chalk it up to heat exhaustion. The second time was today, during my afternoon run around Lake Winfield. This time, I just got the rumbles. No fireworks, thankfully, but the feeling was there. Not as hot or humid, thankfully, and no need to make a pit stop.

I have to be honest–I have never had gastrointestinal problems when running or doing any other activities, so the recent bouts were bugging me. I did some research to find out what the problem is, and how I can prevent a string of GI upsets in the coming weeks.

Apparently, there are many different reasons that GI upset occurs. Some of the more interesting ones, in my opinion, are dehydration and lactose intolerance. When dehydration occurs, the body directs your blood flow to essential functions, and away from areas like the intestines. And, if you are lactose intolerant, any disturbance you might have within your body can be exacerbated by the act of running itself.

Of course, many articles reference things like eating high-fiber foods before running, but that’s definitely not my problem personally. My focus for now is going to be on investigating possible lactose intolerance, which seems like a possibility. I’ve noticed that if I have yogurt or a pasta meal rich in ricotta, I don’t feel great in the morning. This is a recent discovery, but one worth checking out. And, most importantly, I’m focusing on hydrating more consistently, and not just before my runs.

For more information, here’s a great article from Running Times from 2007. And, for anyone with experience or expertise on this issue, the Diarrhea Dietician, a fellow runner, is writing a book on this topic. She is requesting anecdotes and contributions, as well as people to respond to a survey.