Monday, April 12, 2010

Figuring out the body...

Normally, running, for me, is one of my greatest pleasures. It's among those things (i.e- eating, eating, and more eating) that I look forward to doing everyday. Sometimes I even get to do it twice!

There is one area that I STRUGGLE with and that is- post long run recovery. It's hard to explain but I'll give it a shot. When I run longer, I take in more fuel- gels, salt pills, water. It seems as though after long runs of 3+ hours, and 4 + gels consumed, I feel like absolute crap after. However, it's not my muscles that feel beaten up, it's my tummy.

Literally, after every race and every long training run I have this internal battle with my stomach. I try and do everything right. I have a drink of some sort (endurox recovery drink or chocolate milk) always within that 30 minute window post long run and then I have a nice balanced meal within an hour or 2 after that. I have tried to forgo the recovery drink and just drink water but It feels no different. I rarely do that though because I know I need to recover, stomach issues or not. But, if I am making my stomach feel the way it is, is this formula helping me recover at all?

What happens is, my stomach gets really bloated (looks like I'm prego) and it gets super cramped up. It then becomes uncomfortable to do anything, which is sad. I am usually never hungry after these runs but I know I need to eat, so I do, and then the cycle happens. It's hard to not want to eat after burning 2500 + calories! I am scared every time I do eat because it happens time after time. I have experimented with eating different things but nothing has really been able to help. Lying down and drinking A CRAP LOAD of water seems to settle it a bit.

I am a little sick and tired of feeling like this after every long run. Has anyone else experienced this sort of thing post long run or race? I am going to see a naturopath tomorrow and I am hoping she has some insight into what I can do. Perhaps I need a new recovery drink or just need to have a GIANT smoothie which is easier to digest as my main meal after the run. I don't know. Hmmmm...

See you in the trails!


Tom Craik said...

I'm thinking too much sugar alone. Drink straight water with it, earlier on, before and during the workout.

Nicola Gildersleeve said...

I DO!!! That's all I take is Gels and water and salt pills. I was told to drink MORE water during the run which has helped huge with digestion of my GU's. I guess just more water before and after.

Kaz said...

Bloated! - hmm poss a food intolerance. I can't eat anything processed as the various thickeners/artificial sweetners etc reek havoc. Poss dairy or wheat allergy. Some recovery drinks are made with whey which I cannot go any where near. I eat whole foods on long runs (granted I'm prob not running at your pace) and have trained my body to digest them. eg: Nature Valley bars, Homemade rice cake bars with lots of honey. To out it into perspective I've suffered with tummy probs all my life and it is only when I got really ill and discovered my allergies I've been able to get into regular running (always did it a bit as training for other sports, but not like now - prepregnancy) as I can train without being in agony!

Good luck with sorting it out.


Nicola Gildersleeve said...

During the run I am pretty good. However, after 5 gels I usually always have to hit the bushes!

The Runs said...

Hmmmm. Bloating, cramps, and GI issues... The joys we put our bodies through. It's possible that you may be taking in too much fluid immediately after. I find that if I am hydrating well during the run I don't need to guzzle down much within an hour after... 2 plus hours later I will start. Also, I roll out my stomach/ abdominals and stretch out on a ball... Try to avoid sitting generally; this seems to help.

ps. You heading out tomorrow? Got the day off...


garobbins said...

Maltodextrin is pretty high on the allergen list, and found within most sports supplements.

Clif is the only big brand malto free gel. I'd eliminate maltodextrin from your running regime for a full week and see what happens.

Hopefully Nina can answer these questions for you more precisely though.


kelly said...

Have you thought about a gluten or wheat intolerance? You sound like you deal with a lot of the same issues as I do. I googled Athletes living gluten free and was surprised at the amount of people with those very same issues. Worth the read. Good luck. Oh, and I love your blog!

Nicola Gildersleeve said...


I had a food sensitivity test done 2 years ago and wheat was not a significant sensitivity for me.

Gary- I have heard you talk about Maltodextrin before and I tried one Vanilla cliff shot and barfed it back out...I will try and re-visit it. Peter said you have been into the power gel as of late- is that Maltodextrin free?

The runs- It's definitely not the water after the run that is the problem. I actually find it hard to drink a lot after long runs because I just spent hours drinking on the run. I usually try and avoid sitting if I am feeling bloated as it just seems to make it worse.

john_barron said...

HI Nicola,

The issue you are talking about is common, and the main cause is a solute to solvent ratio imbalance. If you have too much solute (be it from carbs -sugars, gels - or from salts/electrolytes) is your gut, then the food/electrolytes/water cannot pass into the wall of the intestine.

It might be best to start from scratch on a few runs and see how it goes. Start by weighing yourself before a run (naked is best) and also after the run (naked again, since clothes will soak up water from sweat and weigh more) and see what your weight comes in at. It should be close to the same, any usually a little less - but not much as a % value of weight.

Try to take two gels per hour (1 per half hour), and about 1/2 to 3/4 a litre of water during that same hour (water consumption varies greatly among men and women, and among different people). That 1/2 to 3/4 litre might end up being most or all of a regular bike bottle.

Try a run of 1 to 2 hours using this formula and then weigh yourself again to see how you made out. Weight gain of more than a little = too much water intake, weight loss of more than a few % = you need a little more water. Muscle fatigue and soreness = you might need little more energy (gel).

Most people who do not restrict their salt intake in their normal diet do not need to supplement on short runs. If you are over about 2 hours or in very hot weather, then some pre-hydration and salting might be helpful - but don't over do it. During a long run, after the first couple of hours (depending on dehydration rate), you might want to consider some small amount of additional electrolyte - but in moderation to start.

I have lots to say on this subject, but not enough room.

(a friend of Gary - I am a lousy runner, but a sort-of okay adventure racer)

Nicola Gildersleeve said...


It's funny, what you recommended is what I already do. I take a gel every 30 minutes...and I try my best to drink 500ml an hour, although sometimes I don't get it all in on a training run, but usually always do during a race. I don't usually take much salt at all on a training run but will every hour in a race.

I got a scale last year to try out the whole weighing before and after workouts. I found that I was usually the same if not a teeny bit heavier but not by much.


trailmomma said...

I know this is a super old post but I just stumbled across your blog and have the same problems.

I get the same exact reaction after having Gus/gels on long runs.

I have learned, taking any kind of advil or tylenol prior to running or during, makes it WORSE.

I have also learned my body prefers SOLIDS rather than sugar gels. I can do boiled potatoes with salt and be fine but a run where I take 4+ gels and I am toast afterwards and in the restroom all night.