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Runners - stomach problems and race day? (poss tmi)

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Hi, me again with the same old problem.

I suffer from the dreaded runners' stomach problems. It doesn't happen every time, but every few runs I get to the three mile mark and suddenly get stomach cramps which have me rushing for the loo. I've always made it home in time... but I'm always terrified that I won't.

I'm already taking probiotics, running on an empty stomach, cut out lactose, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and greasy foods, and I don't eat spicy things, heavy things or fibre-rich foods for 24hrs before a run. This has helped, but not fixed the problem. When I do get sick after a run, I tend to be ill with it for the next two days, so it really sets my training back.

(Dr thinks I've developed IBS, so this isn't a problem likely to go away as I get more used to running)

Anyway, I'm booked for a 10k race in a month, my first race ever. And I'm so anxious that I'm going to be unwell during the race that I'm thinking about dropping out. It's one thing to have problems when I'm a mile from home, but at an event with hundreds of people and queues for porta-potties, I just don't think I can stand the humiliation. On the other hand, I've worked so hard for this.

Have any runners with this problem successfully been able to race? Any tricks? I'm thinking race-day nerves will make me more likely to be ill. Help?

Replies

  • meerkat70
    meerkat70 Posts: 4,616 Member
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    Hm. You already do what i found most helpful (no dairy day before a long run). I've found a small black coffee before running 'clears me out' before ileave the house. I rarely drink coffee otherwise.

    Try any changes *before* race day.
  • greypilgrimess
    greypilgrimess Posts: 353 Member
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    It might just be a case of working out which foods exactly give you that problem. I know a couple people with IBS took a while to work out what foods they needed to avoid, perhaps once you know you'll find you're much less affected.

    I agree that you need to try changes out before the race. And my own experience told me that I do get more nervous before a race and that affects my stomach, however once I get started it all leaves my mind and my stomach isn't an issue. but I know everyone is different. Once I cut caffeine out I was a lot better.
  • lsigall
    lsigall Posts: 58 Member
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    I'm not a runner, so I can't speak specifically to runner's stomach. But I do have Crohn's Disease, so am v familiar with your GI system going out of whack. So here are a couple of tips for dealing with that:

    1. What greypilgrimes says re: it taking time to figure out what foods to avoid. Different things trigger different people.

    2. Teas and supplements that help calm the guts: peppermint, ginger, fennel, chamomile, and slippery elm. Whenever my guts start roiling, I drink peppermint tea. It makes a world of difference. Many other people with Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis find the same thing. But if you have GERD (acid reflux), do NOT drink peppermint tea. I also take peppermint/ginger/fennel oil capsules every day (enteric-coated, so they are digested in your intestines).

    Hope this helps.
  • bert16
    bert16 Posts: 726 Member
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    If your big concern is race day, I've seen someone on here who said they take a half an Immodium (or another effective anti-diarrheal) before heading out. Probably not an idea for every single day, but could help on race days or long run days. Just a thought - hope it helps!

    Happy running! :flowerforyou:
  • YoBecca
    YoBecca Posts: 167
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    Hm. You already do what i found most helpful (no dairy day before a long run). I've found a small black coffee before running 'clears me out' before ileave the house. I rarely drink coffee otherwise.

    Try any changes *before* race day.

    I have never had this problem, but this^ is what I do before training runs and races. For me, I wake up a bit early, chug a cup of water first thing, then nature takes its course.

    I've had cramping and felt the need to hit the loo while running - I usually slow down a bit, and let the feeling recede. A lot of people have told me they did immodium before races.
  • CarsonRuns
    CarsonRuns Posts: 3,039 Member
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    If your big concern is race day, I've seen someone on here who said they take a half an Immodium (or another effective anti-diarrheal) before heading out. Probably not an idea for every single day, but could help on race days or long run days. Just a thought - hope it helps!

    Happy running! :flowerforyou:
    I have done this before as a precaution.
  • Socalgal13
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    If your big concern is race day, I've seen someone on here who said they take a half an Immodium (or another effective anti-diarrheal) before heading out. Probably not an idea for every single day, but could help on race days or long run days. Just a thought - hope it helps!

    Happy running! :flowerforyou:
    I have done this before as a precaution.

    I have done this before races also. It works pretty well. I was having similar issues to yours and then after a many tests found out I was Celiac. So the 24 hours before a race and not eating the the things I thought were causing my GI issues and eating things like a plain bagel were really causing my GI issues. On race day I tend to get up much earlier so I can use the potty at home. before I race.

    Good Luck, do not give up on this
  • fleetzz
    fleetzz Posts: 962 Member
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    Agree with taking immodium, earlier poster recommended 1/2 but can take up to 2 prior to runnung. Since it happens frequently you can start with a low dose for a week, keep increasing each week until symptoms controlled or 2 tabs do not help at all. I recommend taking about 1/2 hour prior to running.
    Immodium is a nice med for diarrhea and cramping associated with ibs. Hubby has same problem (although he doesn't exercise) and takes it frequently w no ill effects.

    If immodium doesnt help at 2 tabs prior to running then you know it will not help you, but it is worth a shot. Generic immodium is cheap.
  • athenasurrenders
    athenasurrenders Posts: 278 Member
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    Thank you for the replies.

    I will experiment with taking immodium before long runs and see what that does. I had avoided it before for fear that it might cause constipation if I took it when I wasn't already ill, but it's worth the risk if it lets me do my race.

    I try to avoid coffee because I find it irritates my stomach, but I see the logic in this suggestion.

    I do drink peppermint tea often, it's great for soothing discomfort. I never tried the capsules though so that's something to look in to.
  • natalie412
    natalie412 Posts: 1,039 Member
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    If your big concern is race day, I've seen someone on here who said they take a half an Immodium (or another effective anti-diarrheal) before heading out. Probably not an idea for every single day, but could help on race days or long run days. Just a thought - hope it helps!

    Happy running! :flowerforyou:
    I have done this before as a precaution.

    I do this before races (one or two) and even on long run days sometimes. Never had it cause constipation.
  • Happylady123
    Happylady123 Posts: 166 Member
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    Nice tip to know about the immodium!
  • barrpc
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    I take a half dose of potassium citrate before i go to bed if i have a race or long long run the next morning. Then by the time i leave the next morning, all business is taken care of before i head out. Caution....experiment first before actually trying, and do not over use this method. It has worked well for me the last three years, but i use it minimally. I am sure it is not good to use often.
  • bonjour24
    bonjour24 Posts: 1,119 Member
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    I have this problem. I have had since I started running. It's always on my long runs (so in the beginning it would happen during a 6-7k run, these days it happens 15k+), or on days where the effort is very intense. I watch what i eat in the days before these runs. On long run and race days, i start with with the immodium 2 days before. By the time race morning is here i've had at least 10 anti diahorrea pills. Bunged up enough to not shart myself in the street and get those awful stomach cramps. and i can usually go just fine the day after. It does take some trial and error though to work out what suits. It's taken me 2 years to find this level of harmony!