I don’t know if any of you remember that the title of my post is from a random episode of Mad About You. Yea, Mad About You, like anyone watches that anymore, or has any idea what I’m talking about. I don’t know why that line has stuck with me, but I thought it was a good segue into my next post, which is about marathon training and your digestive track. Because, let’s face it, they don’t seem to be friends. I certainly am aware of the effects first hand, after completing my half marathon. My stomach was not in a good place….and then I went to town on some Mac and Cheese at a pre-Thanksgiving party. BAD IDEA.
I had such a terrible upset stomach, that its prompted me to rethink my fueling habits during this training season. Problem is, I seem to be faced with the same difficulties. This week, was a very stressful week at work…again (bad year in schools with all of the financial cuts). Somehow, I needed to remind myself that I had to push through to keep up with my training schedule. Because Monday was a fail (I was still jetlagged), I made up for it the rest of the week. Tuesday I ran five and a half miles, Wednesday I ran five miles, and Thursday I ran three miles, with ten minutes of crosstraining, while also incorporating some free and guided weights. However, by Thursday (I ran a fast pace on the treadmill at the gym because it was freeezinggg in Boston) my stomach was churning during my three mile run. I know I pushed myself to run it quickly (Mile 1-8:00, Mile 2-7:56, Mile 3- 7:44), but I could also tell my stomach was going to fall out on the treadmill. Yep, try to imagine what that feels like and its not good. I’m also icing my left knee but that’s a whole other story, including better stretching, getting back into yoga, and strength training my quads.
But what should I find?! Runners World to the rescue! Although I’ve noticed that a lot of the magazine kind of reports the same information, its a great resource for a beginning to intermediate runner. It also helps to keep you informed of the newest research in racing and running. Anyway. So Runners World emails me this article about Prerace nutrition tips that I should most likely follow throughout my marathon training.
The first mistake? Its eating TOO many carbs. Hmm, ok. Prior to my running days, I tried to stay away from carbs. It made for a miserable life. Introduce running, and introduce some really awesome Trader Joe’s ravioli and tortellini. Regardless, we can’t take it too far as runners. Although you require carbs to replenish your glycogen levels, the most important source of energy in training, FLOODING your system with too many carbs makes for a digestive nightmare. Try to be reasonable with your consumption levels and remember that carbs shouldn’t come in the form of cookies to get your energy. Insulin levels skyrocket because simple carbs break down quickly into sugar. However, when you pair your complex carbs with proteins, you slow down the speed of absorption…making you feel fuller longer (aka, the quicker you break it down, the quicker it digests, the quicker you head to the bathroom). Complex carbs are simply anything not white and refined. Multi-grains and sweet potatoes are a great way to add carbs into your diet. Basically, don’t overload with quickly absorbing carbs. Slow and steady wins the race. At least in your blood sugar levels and your digestive tract.
The second mistake a runner can make is drinking too much water. OK. You definitely need water. I’ve actually started to eliminate my crystal light and diet soda consumption (crystal light is a drug for me) and have stapled my metal earth friendly water bottle to my hip. It hurts to sleep on, but its the best thing for my body. I also only get one coffee a week, instead of one coffee a day (saving me about $32 a month)! Yet as your training runs get longer (anything longer than 10 miles)…remember that some of your fluids should come with electrolytes. Let’s break it down to basics. You drink a lot of water, like so much you pee every half hour. Awesome, but you also pee away a lot of sodium. Runners need salt! Well, I don’t mean to lick salt sticks are drown yourself in canned soup, but you definitely need to keep up those sodium levels in order to let your energy shoot around your body (its all magic and science). So I think I need to start adding some low cal Gatorade to my training days that include shorter runs. Then I should introduce some full calorie Gatorade or G2 on longer run days. Done.
Tip number three requires cutting down your fiber intake. You may find this hard to believe, but I LOVE fiber. I love broccoli and bran. Its a sick cross I must bear. However, too much fiber means for lots of digestion, and lots of…well…what comes after digestion. You don’t need to cut down on fruits and veggies as much through the season, but if you are highly susceptible to the effects of fiber, then maybe you want to cut down on your fiber bran parties. You know those parties, where everyone brings bran muffins and dresses up in bran costumes, and we drink bran juice…wait…maybe I shouldn’t have admitted the details of my ultimate dream scenario out loud.
Tip number four is to not skip breakfast. Race day or not. Just don’t do it.
The final suggestion recommends playing around with different types of foods and seeing the effect they can have on your body. Like, maybe you just tried a new chocolate Gu and it made for a nice chocolate p…. YEP get rid of it. Instead go for the Gu gummy bites if they keep your stomach jolly. Susceptible to cheese? YEP, time to cut back. You’ll be better off in the long run.
To sum it all up, you’ll do everything you can throughout training and race day, but it might require calling for backup…such as NoEXPLODE or Immodium. And I’m sorry, if you have some time goals but are no where near racing for top dog status, just for god sake give yourself a break and chill in the porta-pottys for a bit. Your fans and fellow runners will thank you.