How to Avoid Stomach Distress on the Run..

Oh my gosh ... How many of us have this type of problem on a run?  Aside from being intensely uncomfortable, GI distress can be highly embarrassing and upsetting—especially if you run into trouble and you're miles away from home. Just one bad experience—with cramps, diarrhea, a sloshy stomach, nausea, or an emergency pit stop—can make you too panicky to run with a pack, much less race.

If you have stomach trouble on the run, you're not alone. Studies suggest that up to half of all runners have this trouble too. Here are some steps you can take to bulletproof your stomach for your next run.

Go Easy On The Fiber And Fat

Some nutrients that are good for you are better avoided right before a run. Fiber and unsaturated fat, for instance, are both heart-healthy and help prevent chronic disease. But they also take longer for the body to digest than carbs, and can lead to stomach distress when you're on the road. If you're heading out for a workout, make sure your pre-run meal is primarily composed of healthy carbs; it should have less than 7 grams of fiber, 10 grams of fat, and 15 grams of protein per serving.

Drink Up

Dehydration can worsen stomach issues. So make sure you have plenty of fluids in your system before you head out. In general, you should drink when you feel thirsty. But if you prefer to follow a formula, drink half your body weight in ounces throughout the day. So if you weigh 160 pounds, aim for 80 ounces of calorie-fluids throughout the day. Stick to water whenever possible; sports drinks with sweeteners and additives can add unwanted calories, and worsen stomach irritation. It's best to sip fluids throughout the day. Trying to chug them down right before a run could lead to a sloshy, uncomfortable feeling while you're on the road.

Don't Overload The Gut With Carbs

The stomach can only process so many carbs at one time. If you try to chase that energy gel with a sports drink, you could end up feeling crampy, and running for the bathroom. Any time you consume an energy gel, bar, or chews, wash it down with water.

Do Plenty Of Dress Rehearsals

If you've had problems in the past, try out different brands, flavors, and varieties, to figure out what gives you a boost without upsetting your stomach. If you're training for a long-distance event like a half-marathon or a marathon, be sure to try out different sports foods on long runs, so you can have a fail-proof formula for race day.

Avoid Aspirin And NSAIDS Like Ibuprofen

Many runners are in the habit of popping pain-killers on the run. But both aspirin and NSAIDs taken before a run can increase chances of GI distress, and lead to other serious health problems. It's especially important to avoid them if you have a history of stomach issues on the run. And remember, if you can't run without pain, it's much better to rest instead.

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About Jen Van Allen

Jen has spent the past six years working as Special Projects Editor for Runner's World magazine, and writing stories for the magazine. Her books, The Runner's World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training, (Rodale Books, June 2012) The Runner's World Big Book of Running for Beginners and The Runner's World Training Journal for Beginners, (Rodale Books, April 2014) are available wherever books are sold. She is currently at work on her next book, The Runner's World Guide to Weight Loss, which will be available in stores in January 2016. She also contributes stories to The Washington Post, and The Portland Press Herald.

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