How to Get Rid of Runner’s Gut
Runner’s gut is every runner’s nightmare. You’re running along, feeling great, when all of the sudden it hits. The dreaded stomach cramp. Why do they happen? How should you deal with it when one hits? Can you prevent your stomach from cramping while running? Why do some people get runner’s gut and others seem to have guts of steel?
Symptoms of Runner’s Gut
Some runners get stomach cramps while running. No, not that stitch in your side that you get through a hard exertion. What we are discussing here is when your tummy starts to seize up and cramp during exercise. Sometimes it’s just a stomach ache that progressively gets worse during the run. Other times, the symptoms change.
For some people, the next symptom they may get is diarrhea. One minute you are running along, the next you are desperate for a bathroom. If you are one of these people you probably never stray too far from a restroom when your stomach is feeling touchy.
Nausea is another thing that, unfortunately, happens to some athletes. This seems especially prevalent on days when you are running through hot weather.
So what can you do when runner’s gut hits? First off, try prevention instead of reacting.
Tips for Prevention
✓ Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Proper and adequate hydration can help to stave off many potential problems runners face.
Maintaining your electrolyte balance can also help with impending stomach issues. This is a delicate dance for some runners as sports drinks full of sugar and electrolytes can cause some athletes to double over with cramps. You have to find what works for you and your body!
✓ While it is important to take in fuel for long efforts, be cognizant of what works for you. For most people, taking in too much fuel during a run can lead to disaster. The standard rule of thumb seems to be fueling every 45 minutes or so.
✓ The calories you take in should be carefully chosen. Some people swear by runner convenience foods like packets of energy gels or chews. Others, however, find those things set their gastro system into a tailspin. Practice with certain types of fuel. If it makes your stomach lurch, try something else.
✓ For many, avoiding fructose before and while working out can help hold of stomach cramps.
✓ Although a healthy diet includes good sources of fiber, you don’t want to load up on fiber either the night before or the day of a long run or hard effort. If you love eating a big salad, maybe push that to your lunch instead of the evening meal. This can also hold true for heavy grained bread and other types of products.
✓ Did you know coffee can cause reflux in some people? Even though many people love and rely on their morning cup of joe to get the body moving, other people recognize that drinking it before a long run ends in disaster for them. Again, everybody is different.
✓ Wearing looser clothing that does not restrict your midsection can also help prevent stomach cramps and pain.
✓ Some people take a daily probiotic for stomach health and swear by this for prevention.
Is It Okay To Run Through Cramps?
When you experience stomach cramping or runner’s gut while running, you may wonder if it is smart to keep moving forward. Honestly, that depends on your body. If that stomach cramp has been known to lead to bowel crushing diarrhea, your best bet may be to sneak in some walk intervals. The last thing you need is to have to make an emergency pit stop with no bathroom in sight.
However, you do need to get home. Oftentimes dialing it down a bit will help you to survive the easy run home.
If you find yourself in the bathroom repeatedly with no relief in sight for the pain, calling the workout may be your best bet. The last thing you want to do is run your body into dehydration. With severe diarrhea, it is easy for that to happen.
How Do You Get Rid of Stomach Cramps While Running?
- Stop for a walk break.
- Take in some fluids, but not too much at once!
- Ask yourself if you need fuel.
- Hit the shade, if it is a hot sunny day.
If all of the tricks you have tried don’t work and the cramps keep getting worse or escalate to greater distress, just call it a day. “Live to fight another day” is not a sign of weakness. It means you are listening to your body.
How Do You Settle Your Stomach After Running?
Stomach aches after running plague some athletes. Post run, you should focus on taking in calories that are very bland in nature. Sure, we know you want to take in protein and carb right after you exert yourself. It is equally as important to remember that your body needs something easy to digest if you have been struggling.
First off, try waiting at least 30 minutes before you take in any food. Your body may need that break. While you are waiting it out, consider some easy motions to cool down. Whether this is an easy walk or some gentle stretching, this may help transition your body. Some people find foam rolling gives their brain something positive to focus on as they cool down.
When you are ready to try food, start out with something easy like dry toast with some turkey or chicken on it. This is bland and should be easy on your stomach.
While it is important to hydrate post-workout to get your body back into order, start with small amounts if you are nauseous. If drinking water gets your stomach in a tizzy, watermelon is a refreshing fruit that is comprised mostly of water. It is a great post workout refreshment and is pretty easy on your gastro system.
Things to Remember
It is important to keep in mind that when it comes to running and gastro-related issues and runner’s gut, although there are some commonalities among athletes everyone is truly a unique case. The best thing you can do for yourself is to avoid high fiber foods the day before and the day of a long run.
In addition, practice with breakfast foods so you know what your body will handle on long run or hard effort days. This should be your “go to” fuel on race days.
It is imperative that you work on fueling during the races far in advance because you should not have anything new on race day. Lastly, be smart and listen to your body. If it is screaming “STOP!” and you feel like your stomach is revolting, you might be best off listening.
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