Stomach Aches After Running – 4 Rules to Avoid Pain

You’ve done your best work, you’ve kept your long run in. It was a great day, except now not so much. You’re done running, your stomach’s hurting, it’s creeping, it’s aching, it’s painful. It’s uncomfortable at best. and at worst, it is so painful, you can’t actually leave the bathroom.

Well, I’m Jesse Funk. And on today’s episode of Runner’s High, we’re going to talk about having stomach cramps and stomach aches after you run and the four rules that can help you alleviate it.

Statistically speaking, 60% of runners deal with stomach issues from time to time. So, you’re definitely not alone in this and I’m part of that group. I’ve dealt with this over a number of years, in my younger years when I was running, and I didn’t plan so well. I’ve lost many a great sock to a mid-run pitstop.

Sometimes it’s simply an issue for me, if I changed my schedule up, and it was the wrong time to change it up. Say I went from an afternoon run to a morning running and increase the intensity, that can lead to a lot of issues for me where I come inside, and it’s like somebody stabbing me in the stomach. It’s kind of like, I’m Rob Stark’s wife, and it’s a red wedding. To soon? Too soon? Okay. 

So, how do you avoid a plot changing massacre in your bowels? Well, the first rule of racing applies to running here, don’t try anything new on race day, or in this case on run day. And for me, running goes from afternoon run to morning run, maybe something unavoidable like that.

Try to change without changing the intensity or make a little bit more gradual change. So, you’re doing a very, very long run in the afternoon, take it little easier in the morning, see how that goes before you continue forward with your plan on running.

Two, avoid potentially irritating foods. And that’s pretty simple, right? I actually talked about this in another video where I talk about eating before your run, but high fat, high fiber, you want to avoid those. If you’re particularly sensitive to dairy, well don’t have cereal for breakfast, kind of makes sense, right? But sometimes we eat these seemingly innocuous things and they bother us. I’m going to be someone who says I love a burger from five guys with the fries, just as much as the next person, it is delicious, one of my favorite burgers. But if I’m going to go run a couple hours, probably not the best lunch choice. So, you need to make smarter choices when it comes to that.

You can take this same idea and really apply it systematically to any kind of food that you take in. The whole idea is to put together a methodology where you’re saying, okay, I’m not getting this kind of food and I’m not any kind of food and this kind of food I’m going to eliminate, and you slowly eliminate it one by one to figure out what [??? 3:03], what’s that thing that’s causing me all those problems? 

The other thing with food, try not to eat a big meal a couple hours before your run or make it smaller or don’t eat it all. If you’re running in the morning, and you can’t go to the bathroom before you go run, then maybe it’s a good idea to just run on an empty stomach, or possibly just water depends on how long you’re going out for.

I kind of cover a little bit of that in one of my other videos. So, subscribe to the channel. Stay tuned for that. You can actually probably go find that right now on the channel. But you need to take all these things into consideration. 

The other thing you can do is try what I call the sick diet because this is what you go to when you’re sick. But the BRAT diet, which is an acronym, so bananas, rice, applesauce, toasts, all very neutral things and some of them actually help things stay together, so that you don’t have as many issues when you go to the bathroom. 

Rule three, and this is actually another food rule but limit sugar intake. You know, carbs are not a bad thing and they’re especially not bad for us as runners. We need them to convert into fast glycogen. So, we use gels and we have them in sports drinks. But a high amount of sugar intake can actually cause GI distress. Too much sugar can cause things and become irritated.

So, avoid too much sugar and again, like the other food, you can try eliminating some of those things. If you’re taking a gel that one of its main ingredients is fructose, then maybe try a different gel or try it in a smaller quantity. 

Again, with your sports drink, there’s a lot of different options. Some are a non sugar at all. So, you can go from Gatorade, you can try Powerade, those are kind of the, I’ll say mass market ones that you can try maybe something from Hammer, which has no sugar in it as far as I recall. I use EFS.

There are a lot of products to try as far as your sports drinks concerned. So, taste comes into play too, but there are plenty of options for you to try if you think sugar is the problem that you can find something that works for you and doesn’t cause you issues. 

Rule for and this may be a little counterintuitive, is actually hydrate. So, you don’t necessarily think I need to take in more water because it’s coming out the other end that way. But it can actually help prevent that because when you become dehydrated, your intestinal tract can become more irritated and cause more of an issue down the line.

What’s actually happening is that when we go run a lot of our blood’s being diverted away from digestion and to our limbs, into our muscles so we can actually run. 

You know our body is prioritizing the activity we’re doing right now over digestion. But because blood’s being diverted away from the digestive tract, that means things slow down. And then on top that, that dehydration. So, remember, hydration is important. When you become dehydrated, then more issues kind of compound on top of themselves.

So, there’s multiple things that can be going on. And if you take all four of these tips into account, that usually resolves whatever the issue is, for the vast majority of people. If they don’t resolve it for you, you’re still having problems, it might be time to go see your primary care doctor and see if they can kind of help you. 

Remember, I’m not a doctor. I try to give you the best advice I can, but I am not a medical professional and really, it’s good to check with them. There are a couple of other things that could be going on. It’s very rare, like runners colitis, or IBS. I’m actually going to talk about those in another video. So, subscribe to the channel. Stay tuned, so you can check that out. But if you cannot resolve these things on your own, no harm in checking with the doctor. It’s better to be safe than be sorry. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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