Runner’s Stomach – What It Is And How To Prevent It - Medshield Movement

Runner’s Stomach – What It Is And How To Prevent It

Running can be quite hard on the body and as it uses the whole body, you’ve got to make sure your tummy is ready for a run. Medshield offers advice on foods that fuel your body, help your recover and are easy on that tummy, so that you can have a successful run!

Runner’s stomach – sometimes called “runner’s trots” can be a big issue for runners and most people who run have experienced it at least once. When you’re running for an extended period, the blood flow that is normally directed to your digestive system is diverted to your cardiovascular system. This can disrupt and irritate your digestive process. You may feel a strong urge to expel whatever’s in your digestive system and you may end up with symptoms of diarrhoea. While this is happening, your body is also moving up and down as you continue to run. This movement contributes to feeling like you need to use the bathroom as waste material is jostled around your intestines and your stomach acid is sloshing.

There is no cure for “runner’s stomach”, but there are several preventive steps you can take to try to minimise symptoms and ensure you have a good run! 

Before Your Run 

It’s important to find something that works for you. This won’t be the same for everyone. Some might prefer running on a small bowl of oats, while others want a slice of toast with peanut butter or even just a banana and an espresso. 

  1. The key is to give your body some time to process the food before you run. This means waking up earlier if you plan to run in the morning or planning your afternoon nutrition appropriately if you like running after work. Eating too close to before your run could lead to cramping, side stitches, feeling nauseated as well as “runner’s stomach”. Experts recommend having a meal at least two to three hours before you run or a small snack 30 min – 1 hr before you run.
  2. Avoid eating spicy food, high-fibre food, dairy-packed dishes or sugar-laden drinks before running (or the night before, if you run in the morning). These could all upset your stomach or make you feel ill during your run.

  3. What you eat the night before – and even two days before – can impact your exercise. For example, eating very high-fibre foods that day before can lead you to potentially dealing with a bloated, gassy tummy on your run.

  4. Don’t skip water (a volume of about 5-7ml per kg per body weight is offered as a general starting point.)!But don’t drink too much before you run. Drinking too much water could cause cramps and make digestive irritation worse. The safest bet is to develop a habit of drinking enough water regularly and using electrolyte-infused beverages right before and after your runs.

If you’re new to running, check out our ClickFit Couch to 5km running programme. Even elite athletes experience “runner’s stomach” from time to time. Figuring out a routine that works for your system and sticking to it on your training and race days can make it less of an obstacle for you. It might take some experimenting to get it just right, but once you find what’s working, stick to it. Also know that if this kind of upset stomach persists, there may be something else at play. If you are unsure, always consult your medical doctor for advice. 

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