I’m 2 months into my Team in Training marathon program. So far, my team has raised over $40,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Go, Team! I’m very near my personal fundraising goal of $5000, so please check my progress HERE and make a donation to support LLS!
Marathon training is going well for the most part. Distance running is often accompanied by aches and pains. I’ve had an achy hip for a while, though it has become better with physical therapy and lots of stretching. A couple of weeks ago, my left knee was acting up. This week my right arch started moaning. But these aches and pains are nothing compared to the GI distress I seem to develop with every run over 1 hour and 20 minutes long.
GI distress is something I started experiencing when I trained for my first marathon over 6 years ago. I experienced it somewhat during triathlon training last summer. Over the past 6 months, as I’ve been increasing my long runs and experimenting with various engineered foods to fuel me on those long runs, more often than not, I develop GI distress so annoying and painful and even lasting for some time after my run.
Last weekend’s long run was perhaps the last straw. On that run, I decided to fuel the way I’ve fueled in the past — a shot blok every 20 minutes and sips of Nuun from my handheld bottle. That combo has worked 60% of the time in the past. Unfortunately, by 40 minutes into my run, my gut started cramping up and it was all downhill from there. I always finish my runs, and it’s not the type of GI distress that has me sprinting to the closest port-a-potty every 10 minutes. What I experience is painful cramping in my gut, and last week it lasted 8 miles and for more than 3 hours after my run. It was that run that made me realize I had to figure something out otherwise I would not be able to continue training for a marathon.
I have theories as to why my gut reacts that way it does — I’m taking in too much sugar than my gut can take, I’m not hydrating enough. I posted my issue on a running site and received many great suggestions from other runners. Suggestions included taking Imodium before runs, taking peppermint oil tablets, carrying and eating boiled potatoes on my long runs, sticking to liquids such as water and Gatorade.
The idea of sticking to liquids intrigued me – easier to digest and it would ensure that I was hydrating properly. So today I decided to take a risk and go out on my long run without the gels or shot bloks but with the intention of stopping at each Team in Training aid station (yes, they provide aid stations on our long runs, one of the many reasons Team in Training ROCKS) and drinking a full cup of water/gatorade. I was a little concerned thinking I would bonk without some engineered foods, but to me the thought of running with abdominal cramps was way worse than running low on fuel. And what happened? No GI distress AND I felt great for the entire run! After my run, I had a bottle with Nuun and still no GI distress! Phew.
Ok, perhaps I just got lucky today, so next week I plan to do the same thing and see how that goes. If that goes well, then slowly I’ll add some kind of fuel — whether it be a gel, shot bloks, or boiled potatoes — and figure out what my body and gut can handle. And hopefully by the time the Nike Women’s Marathon comes around, I’ll be running pain-free, at least in my gut.