Here’s what you relearn every time you get back to running after a long hiatus:
* Cross-training is just that. Nothing is the same as running, mentally and physically, and while you’re a world better off doing that tedious cross-training, it’s still a cold slap of reality when you get back to the real deal. Hello, muscles, almost forgot about you until you were sore again.
* Thank you muscle memory. That slap of reality stinks but it’s kind of crazy how the hazing period isn’t that long…thankfully the longer you’ve been a runner the more your muscles remember how to slip back into runner mode. Push past those initial harder than they really should be runs and you start getting back to your self.
* Nothing clears you out like running. Forget Activia or colonics, sorry if I err on the side of TMI, but it’s true, running keeps you regular.
This segues into my topic for today…the guts, the intestines, and GI issues on the run. I know some of us runners are ‘blessed’ with more than our fair share of these troubles and I’m one of them. Sometimes it’s totally unpredictable and you just do a slight prayer to the running Gods before each hard workout, race, or long run that you won’t have a GI disaster.
The tricky thing with these types of things is that they are different for everyone and really tough to nail down a remedy for. Experts suggest:
* Eating bland foods that sit easy in the stomach. You could call these ‘low residue’ foods, they don’t have much bulk (read as fiber). Examples would be plain, white rice; Dathan Ritzenhein goes to this before his big races because he knows that is what works for him. Other athletes find that drinking their last meal of caloric intake keeps them safe; just make sure it’s a drink that is more than just electrolytes and actually has carbohydrates and sustenance.
* Don’t over-eat. I have a very temperamental stomach and to be quite frank like to run first thing in the morning before breakfast. If I were training and had a hard workout I’d get up earlier and have some oatmeal, but it would have to be a few hours before. Planning your meals helps, and you can revisit my article about ‘Timing Your Fuel’ in Running Times.
* Eating on the run. If you’re training for a marathon or doing a really long workout things get even more complicated. During exercise the blood is being sent to your muscles doing the work and all the energy being spent is geared towards getting you to perform; this means that there isn’t the extra blood supply to then go to your stomach and start doing a ton of digesting. For this reason that’s why sometimes people can get into trouble eating just too much during their event; estimates are that you should consume roughly 200 calories per hour of exercise if you’re running more than one hour but everyone is different. Again, liquids are your friend.
* The night before. I know going into a morning run the possibilities that there will be a pit-stop in order are much higher if I’ve eaten a certain kind of food the night before and had a bit more than my fair share. I’ll call it the “Well, I know I’ll pay for it later but it’s worth it right now” effect. Today’s run was brought to the OD of Entenmann’s cheese filled coffee cake last night…but it was worth it.
* Other remedies. I’ve talked to people who swear by this or that supplement, I’ve known people who have had their GI problems solved by acupuncture, there were periods where I’d have to pop an Imodium before every hard workout or long run and it seemed to help. If you’ve suffered with this issue enough you’re willing to try or do anything.
Even with all of this there is never a sure bet. Every GI sufferer sympathized with poor Paula Radcliffe during her marathon pit-stop and it proves that 1) don’t be ashamed to talk about these things because nearly every runner has experienced it 2) don’t make fun of people pulling the bush dive, Karma is a bi*** 3) we’ve been there and if nothing else, try to laugh at yourself, it’s the only way to keep on going.
Still, even after all of these slaps of back to running reality (seriously, the last pain free running this runnerchick got in was somewhere around Halloween!) it is SO worth it, gurgly guts, sore muscles, and all!
1) What’s the longest you’ve gone without running? Did you cross-traing during that time?
2) What’s one ‘slap of back to running reality’ you have?
3) Do you have stomach or GI issues? What have you tried and what works for you?
4) Is there a certain ‘trigger food’ that you know will set off your stomach? Are there times when you throw caution to the wind and dig in anyways??
Pretty sure we all do it, I’ve got a friend who is nearly Lactose intolerant but orders up the biggest sized Blizzards if she’s sure an easy day is on tap for the next day.