Last week I talked about constipation and the effect it can have on your training as well as what you can do to help alleviate the issue. Click here for a refresher. This week I wanted to talk about the other issue. I am sure I am not alone when I say I have been caught more than once panicking to find a bathroom while out on a run or ride, only to be left squatting behind a bush somewhere. And I know we all make multiple trips to a bathroom while getting ready to get ourselves to a start line of a race.
Just like constipation, it is important to determine that what you are suffering from is not more serious so if your symptoms continue or progress go and see your family doctor. If you are like me, however, and your digestive system is constantly affected by nerves, stress, emotions and training then here are a few things I live by to limit the rolls of toilet paper I go through.
Probiotics are a must but if your stomach is already bothered stay away from the ones with the dairy and find natural flora to help rebalance the bacteria needed for a healthy digestive system.
Stay away from too much fibre prior to a big training day or a race. Fibre slows the emptying of food from the stomach and when you combine that with the fact that the body will take blood away from the gut to send to our muscles while we are racing or training, we could have a potential disaster on our hands. Allow yourself plenty of time to digest your foods before a big workout (I always give myself at least 2 hours, 3 before a race) and keep the fibre in that pre-race or workout meal to a minimum.
Stay away from high fat foods before a race or long training workout. I have a rule the night before I race where I eat a very bland meal consisting of lean protein and basic white rice at 4pm then a small snack of the same foods 3 hours later and a breakfast of simple steal cut oats 3 hours before my race. This is guaranteed to keep my tummy happy. Add a bit more salt to your meals for some added electrolytes and stick with water only.
Keep yourself hydrated with cold water and stay away from too many sports drinks. Also, coffee for a lot of people is a definite no before a workout. I know some of us could not fathom a workout without a coffee but many of us must wait until afterwards to enjoy a cup of Joe.
It may take some time to figure out what works for you and what does not so if you are struggling with trying to settle your stomach keep a journal of what you eat prior to your workouts and how you felt while training or racing. After having to stop multiple times in a half ironman race to use the porta potty because of a rhubarb crumble I ate the night before I quickly learned what does and does not work for me.
Attached- Reese Witherspoon leaving the gym after a workout yesterday.