General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome Rss Feed  
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2014-09-05 1:07 PM


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Subject: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
In my past few races, I’ve struggled with stomach issues…both dry heaving and diarrhea. I’m going to break it down in a bit of detail so folks with any experience can provide suggestions. Sorry for being graphic, but hey, I think all this comes with the territory. Marathoning again in November and planning to do another ½ ironman next summer, so I’d welcome any suggestions

Sept 2013—Olympic triathlon (first tri ever), nerves before race, slept terrible night before, felt sick to stomach coming out of water, dry heaves throughout the bike, lots of gas, dry heaves during run and just barely made it through the race before making a mad dash to Port-o-pot
Prerace meal—McDonald’s double cheese, small fry, large diet coke (not good, I know)
Morning food—48 oz sports drink, 1.5 bagels, banana, 1 gel prior to race
Nutrition during race—On bike 5 oz water, 5 oz water w/gel, 5 oz of water, couldn’t drink/eat after about 12 miles into bike…no water/nutrition on run

Nov 2013—full marathon, trained well, but pace was about 15 seconds faster than other marathons (8:15 as opposed to 8:30), felt great up to mile 18, mile 18 started feeling sick to stomach, mile 20 dry heaves, mile 21 and 23 stop at port-o-pot, miles 22-26 dry heaves when I’d try to start running after walking…pace dropped to about 10 min per mile walk/running
Prerace meal—pasta, breadsticks, no salad at all
Night before—took 2 Imodium AD to try and combat any pit stops along the way
Morning food—16 oz of caffeinated tea, 1 gel, 2 eggo waffles (plain, no syrup), banana
Nutrition during race—approx. 3-4 oz water every 2 miles or so, gel at miles 6, 12, 17 (w/water), I will walk for a few while doing gel or water to avoid intaking excess air

May 2014—1/2 marathon, had to stop at mile 10 and use the port-o-pot with gassy diahrea
Prerace meal night before: 3 pieces of cheese pizza
Morning food: bagel with peanut butter, banana, 32 oz sports drink (food consumed 3 hrs prior to race, sports drink sipped up to race time), 16 oz caffeinated tea
Nutrition during race: 3-4 oz water at mile 4, 4 oz water with gel at mile 7

August 2014—1/2 ironman, slept well prior to race, swallowed water during swim (trained in open water, but not with waves like that), 10 miles into ride guts rumbling and sour stomach, port-o-pot stop mile 20, port-o-pot stop in T2 (barely made it to T2 w/o stopping), run great for 5 miles, then got the dry heaves that kept up the rest of the race, forcing me to run/walk last 8 miles
Prerace meal: cheeseburger, baked potato, 3 dinner rolls (minimal fiber 2 days prior to race), few Oreos that night
Morning food: 1.5 bagels with peanut butter, 2 bananas, 24 oz sports drink, 16 oz caffeinated tea, 16 oz water(nerves and few dry heaves before race)
Morning of: took 2 Imodium and 2 tabs of silimethicone (gas relief)
Nutrition during race: sport beans and 6 oz water in T1, 12 oz Gatorade over first 20 miles, 16 oz water over next 30 miles, 1/2 gel at mile 25, ½ banana at mile 35, ½ banana at mile 45….12 oz of water in first 8 miles of running, then so sick didn’t drink any more water, just swished a few times…

Here are a few of my speculations:
1. Gatorade for sports drink and powerbar gel for gels not good with my stomach. Try something that is maltodextrin based (cytomax) for fueling and take bananas on tri courses
2. My vice is diet soda (drink 48 to 64 oz per day, maybe more). Wonder if the acidity of soda and carbonation just affects the health of my stomach overall.
3. Nutrition in general—I’m not the healthiest eater, but I don’t eat fast food and junk all the time either. Maybe move to rice/potato/lean meat/veggies a few weeks prior to races and see how my stomach fares.
4. Caffeine—I’m not consuming a bunch prior or during racing (gels have 25 mg, my tea has 80 mg…I’m 175 lbs, so it shouldn’t be a big deal), but maybe that just tweaks my system a bit and knocks me off
5. Training/pushing too hard on race day (I’m undertrained)—One thing I learned from the ½ ironman was that with bike/run bricks, I need to do a longer run. I’d do 40 or 50 mile rides, then run 3 miles after. I need to go 7-9 miles. My body felt good the first few miles of the run, but fell apart after that. Undertraining could have led to all the gut issues on the run. On marathons, I feel I’m trained pretty well, usually do long runs on the weekend with at least 5-7 miles at race pace in them. But maybe going that extra 2% pushes my body over the edge

Sorry to write a book. Any thoughts or suggestions?


2014-09-05 2:23 PM
in reply to: Jdheidenreich


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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
Honestly, go see a doctor/specialist. That doesn't sound right.



2014-09-05 6:16 PM
in reply to: Jdheidenreich

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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
Tons of possibilities here. If it's happening even during moderate exercise or at rest, then I'd definitely see a doctor. Otherwise, I'd guess it's a combo of something you're eating and intense exertion, which reduces blood flow to the gut and can pretty much shut down your digestive system. Could be something you're consuming the night before, or on race day. You might experiment by cutting out/replacing them one by one (or all at once?) and seeing if it solves the issue.

1. The banana. It seems to be a common denominator. I know they're handed out at races and considered easily digestible, but they aren't for everyone. I cannot eat them before a hard run or swim.--if I do, I'll regret it. Also made the mistake of eating one about 30 minutes before my last tri, and almost puked on the swim (and not related to panic or anything, I'm a strong swimmer, no issues with OWS).

2. Some kind of mild intolerance for wheat products and/or dairy. They're also a common denominator in your meals the night before and morning of. Even a mild issue that you might not notice otherwise can become more pronounced during exercise, due to slower processing by your gut, especially at race intensity. I normally have no issues with wheat/gluten that I know of, but I just can't eat it before a run or race without symptoms similar to what you describe. Your diet is really carb-heavy so might be a real possibility. Try a rice based meal the night before, and maybe oatmeal or a rice or oat-based energy bar before the race. BTW carboloading has pretty much been disproved, so there's no need to load up on pasta if it doesn't sit well.

3. Something in your sports drink. Are you drinking the same things in the race as in training? Some people are intolerant to some of the additives in drinks, or have a hard times digesting the sugars in them, in particular fructose and some artificial sweeteners. It may be that the culprit is also in your diet soda. For some reason drinks with sugar make me nauseous in longer races, while gu or solid food doesn't. So I use sugar free drinks like Nuun for hydration. I carry my own bottle on the run for races longer than sprints. You need to figure this out on training and, if that makes a real difference, figure out how to handle your needs in races.

4. Caffeine. If you're not used to it, it can definitely cause or contribute to GI issues.

5. Racing too hard for your fitness level. Or maybe that's just how your body responds to hard effort. I've felt like puking after many of my races, and occasionally done it, especially for shorter, intense efforts like sprints. But I think if you can clean up your diet or resolve any medical issues, you'd hopefully be able to get to the finish line most of the time without losing it.
2014-09-05 7:26 PM
in reply to: Jdheidenreich

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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
I tend to take a fairly minimalist approach to hydration and nutrition, so what you are consuming seems elaborate, and it seems like a lot to me. For an Olympic Tri or 1/2 marathon I would have the same breakfast I have any other day (e.g. toast and peanut butter and a couple of cups of coffee). I'll sip a bit of water before the start, and during the race I'll have one bottle of water and one gel on the bike. I think I could do an Oly or 1/2 M without consuming anything and it wouldn't bother me. I haven't raced longer distances so I don't really know what I would do for a marathon or HIM.

What makes you think that you need so much? I don't tend to have gut issues but I think that 16oz of tea and 32 oz of gatorade in the morning might make me sick. Do you consume what you have listed in the morning on any days when you're not racing?
Don
2014-09-05 8:53 PM
in reply to: Jdheidenreich


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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
Any issues during training? What do you eat before training sessions? I would definitely try taking out the caffeine and sports drink before a race. For me, I stick with oatmeal and maybe a banana. Simple and settle well in my stomach. Sometimes a gel shortly before race
2014-09-05 9:44 PM
in reply to: TriTampa2


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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
Thanks for the suggestions. Here's a bit more info:

1. I'm a heavy hydrator prior to races. I always have been and never had ill effects prior to this past year. And while 48 oz seems like a lot, many times that is consumed over 3 or 4 hours prior to a race
2. Training...I certainly don't eat or drink that much prior to training...usually a bagel and 16-20 oz of water...mainly b/c I'm not up 3 hours before a morning training session. It would be interesting to see what might happen to my body if I did try to take in most of that before training. Every once in a while when I'm deep into my training (3 hrs plus) I'll get the dry heaves, but not often and not as frequent as what I have in races
3. Caffiene...I have it as part of my normal routine, so I'm used to it....I normally have no issues after consuming 100 mg or so in the mornings.

Points I think I will try:
1. Gluten and dairy elimination. Good variable to pull. What would you suggest? Eliminating A few days prior to race or hard training?

2. No Gatorade in morning...I need to find a different beverage that has some calories though...suggestions on something that is light on the stomach?

3. Keeping things simple.

If you have other suggestions or thoughts on how to do the above, please let me know...


2014-09-07 7:50 AM
in reply to: Jdheidenreich

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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
Keeping in mind my bias towards what works for me, which seems to be quite different than what works for you...
Simplifying and cutting out some of what you're consuming seems like a good idea.
So does practicing race day nutrition during training.
Don't cut out caffeine!! As a committed coffee drinker I would never suggest that a fellow addict should try to cope with race day (or any day for that matter) without caffeine.
Why is it important to have calories in your pre-race drink? Not necessarily disagreening, but I don't understand why you can't just drink water.
Good luck.
2014-09-07 8:47 AM
in reply to: Jdheidenreich

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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome

I'll just concentrate on your HIM as it's the most recent race.

By my quick calculations you were at about 400-450 cals for the bagel and a half with PB.  200 cals for the two bananas, another 200 cals in sports drinks.  800-850 cals is okay by my standards.  I actually eat more (1200-1500 cals for a race day breakfast) but that's me.  The 56 ounces of fluid sounds like a lot but over a few hours prior to the race it may not be that bad as you would've eliminated most of it by the race start.

You're just not taking in enough calories during your race.  Three gels for a marathon is not enough.  One gel for a half marathon is not enough.  You're also not hydrating enough during those runs.  250 cals for an entire HIM bike ride is off the charts low.  I'm assuming your 56 mile ride took over three hours.  60-80 cals/hour isn't going to cut it.  Most people take in 200-300 cals per hour during a HIM.  You took that for the entire bike ride.  Nowhere near enough.  You were also WAY under hydrated as well.  36 ounces of fluid is about what I would drink per hour on the bike.  That's all you took for the whole bike ride.

Your "during race" nutrition is completely jacked up.

My advice:

- More calories during the bike.  That fuels your run.  Ditch the bananas.  They can be hard to digest during a race.  Try switching to a high cal and electrolyte sports drink like Perform or Gatorade Endurance (not normal Gatorade) or Infinit.  That way you get both fuel and hydration from one source and it simplifies the process.

- Don't ride your bike beyond your ability on race day.

- Longer brick runs are useless and will not benefit you the way you think. 

2014-09-07 9:27 AM
in reply to: GMAN 19030

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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
Why wouldn't one gel be enough for 1/2 marathon? I went for run yesterday and didn't take any water or gels - I did 17 km in around 1:30. For 1/2 marathon my goal would be 1:40 - one gel plus water from the aid stations seems like it would be about right.
2014-09-07 11:22 AM
in reply to: #5047263


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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
IMO one gel IS enough for a 1/2 marathon. I've never take. More then one gel for a 1/2 marathon. And for just a 1/2 marathon I eat light the morning of. I just don't feel my body needs that much fuel for a 1/2 marathon. With that being said, everybody's body is different so it can be different for everybody. I have a friend who never eats the morning of a 1/2 marathon or sprint triathlon. I know for the 1/2 marathon he doesn't stop for a gel or water either. It works for him and he's far faster than I am. I tried no breakfast for 1/2 marathon and did PR so it can work.
2014-09-07 2:21 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome

Originally posted by Hot Runner Tons of possibilities here. If it's happening even during moderate exercise or at rest, then I'd definitely see a doctor. Otherwise, I'd guess it's a combo of something you're eating and intense exertion, which reduces blood flow to the gut and can pretty much shut down your digestive system. Could be something you're consuming the night before, or on race day. You might experiment by cutting out/replacing them one by one (or all at once?) and seeing if it solves the issue. 1. The banana. It seems to be a common denominator. I know they're handed out at races and considered easily digestible, but they aren't for everyone. I cannot eat them before a hard run or swim.--if I do, I'll regret it. Also made the mistake of eating one about 30 minutes before my last tri, and almost puked on the swim (and not related to panic or anything, I'm a strong swimmer, no issues with OWS). 2. Some kind of mild intolerance for wheat products and/or dairy. They're also a common denominator in your meals the night before and morning of. Even a mild issue that you might not notice otherwise can become more pronounced during exercise, due to slower processing by your gut, especially at race intensity. I normally have no issues with wheat/gluten that I know of, but I just can't eat it before a run or race without symptoms similar to what you describe. Your diet is really carb-heavy so might be a real possibility. Try a rice based meal the night before, and maybe oatmeal or a rice or oat-based energy bar before the race. BTW carboloading has pretty much been disproved, so there's no need to load up on pasta if it doesn't sit well.

These were going to be my suggestions as well, all though the gluten/dairy issue usually results in the emergency-poop situations, not dry heaving, but I know we are all different. 

What is your normal diet like? About the same, or are you introducing heavier or different foods right before a race?

Maybe just try a healthier, blander dinner pre-race? Grilled chicken and sweet potato or white rice. Some veggies. Normal portions not heavy in dairy or gluten might do your stomach some good. 



Edited by lisac957 2014-09-07 2:21 PM


2014-09-07 8:40 PM
in reply to: #5047263

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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
Here is a suggestion from the land of ultramarathoners. Eat brown rice the night before, instead of pasta. It has just as many carbs, if not more, and is easier to digest if you are a gluten free eater. Sometimes the acidity of tomato sauce with pasta can hurt your stomach the next day.
2014-09-07 10:50 PM
in reply to: niceguy542006

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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
Heaving tends to happen quite often in ultras. I personally don't have issues since my stomach is like steel, I've heard that you can get sick from taking too much calories. Your body can consume up to about 250 calories per hour. If you take more than that, it can reject it in a bad way. Greasy food prior to the race doesn't sound like a great idea either. However, it sounds more like an issue of going too hard on those races. Try to relax a little. It sounds like you're a nervous wreck based on what I'm reading. I would also switch or try a different nutrition during training and see what works for you.
2014-09-07 11:10 PM
in reply to: GMAN 19030


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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
I fully realize my race nutrition was jacked up w my 1/2 ironman. Once I got on the bike, I could barely consume anything w/o feeling sick to my stomach, so I just quit except for water and banana during the 2nd half of the bike. Even thinking about a gel or sports drink after about 20 miles into the bike made me sick to my stomach, so I just stopped. The bananas seemed to sit well b/c I knew I had to have something....but there was no doubt going into the run that I was in a severe calorie deficit that I wouldn't be able to get my way out of.

My normal diet, is, well, normal. Maybe fast food 1 time per week, and no supersizing or big macs...Lots of chicken, fish, pasta, grains, salad. I could do a better job at times eliminating refined carbs (junky cereal that my kids eat is a vice) and I do drink way too much diet soda.

I wouldn't say that I have IBS, but sometimes my gut just bothers me after I eat. Nothing extreme...lots of grease, too much red pasta sauce, or that 3rd bowl of rich ice cream(doesn't happen often) can put me over the edge. I pay my dues with some gas and the scoots once or twice and move on regretting the food I just ate.

Again, prior to race day, I probably consume 250 or 300 cals before I'm out the door for a long run or ride, so I don't totally simulate my race day nutrition. I'm going to try to eliminate wheat and dairy the day before my long runs/rides and see how I feel. I have a marathon coming up in Nov that I can also try this with.

Any other recommendations on things that are easy on the stomach during a marathon? I'd love to get 3-500 calories in my system during the race, but I don't want to deal with this crap again if I can avoid it.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far
2014-09-08 7:28 AM
in reply to: Jdheidenreich

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Subject: RE: Gut issues during recent races. Suggestions welcome
I'm sure I'll get totally flamed for this opinion but I'll state it anyway.
I had TERRIBLE gut issues in previous years. I just assumed it was nerves. Just about every race I entered, I'd spend a bunch of time in the Porta Potties. Never puked but pooping up a storm. Quite disconcerting.
Last November I hired a nutrition coach that ran some blood work as well as diet logs and we realized that I ate a TON of processed sugar. I THOUGHT I was eating pretty healthy with lots of grains etc. But found out that those grains were nothing but sugar (which my body doesn't break down well. I'd argue that it's poison to everyone but some people do fine with sugars)
So we cut ALL sugars and net carbs out of my diet. And things started to get a lot better. Now I'm a big believer in fueling very well (protein) before a race, 2 days or so, and using that fuel for my energy. No drinks, no gel. If I really need it, I'll do some almond butter but I've only needed that once in an 50K ultra.
Once the body is trained to burn fat, it does it very well and doesn't need the carbs to keep going. And it's really nice to have all of that sugar out of my system.
I won't preach what you should do, but I think this might be something to look at. Going to a Dr will likely only get you a Prilosec prescription. (as it did for me). Fixing the problem rather than masking the symptoms might be a better way to approach this.
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