Fixing My GI Distress – Weekly Recap – 5.30.20

This was a solid week of training for me, but another tough week emotionally. To continuously see images of overt police brutality has been really weighing on me, and it’s made me reflect on how exhausted the black community must be feeling at this point. I want to continue to finding ways to encourage others to combat their own internal racism and to work towards dismantling systemic racism. It’s a long fight, to be sure, which means that we all need to be mindful of taking time to refill our cups. I tried to be more mindful about that myself this week. I’ve noticed in the past that emotional issues have a way of triggering GI distress for me, which is something I’ve been working to address over the past several months. Fortunately, it seems like what I’ve been trying out has been working, which is something I want to share.

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On my rest day (Tuesday), my son and I met up with a friend to go hiking during my lunch break. We spent some time that afternoon at our pool, relaxing. I was able to keep my CrossFit programming as previously planned so that I would have more time at home in the evenings. We’ve had a lot of conversations about what we’re seeing in the news and working through and processing things together as a family. I’ve also made sure to prioritize my fueling this week, because I know that I have a tendency to under-fuel when I’m feeling anxious.

On Saturday, I met up with my cousin to run out at Government Canyon State Park; a State Park that’s near us.  They’ve had reduced capacity, and it’s been difficult to get a day pass.  I was pretty happy about being able to explore some new trails and have some company for a few miles.  After my long run, we spent the afternoon with some family friends in Austin.  We grilled, had a few beers, and let the kids play.  It’s been such a long time since our 6 year old has had an opportunity to hang out with other kids his age, and it was exactly what we needed as a family.

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The temperatures have gotten so high in the last couple of weeks, and I’m so glad to have access to a pool.  My morning runs have been muggy and warm, and summer is definitely alive and well in south Texas.  Thankfully I haven’t experienced the apocalyptic hoards of mosquitoes that have haunted my summer dreams for the past several years.  Please light a candle for those of us who know what pterodactyl sized blood monsters look like in real life.  Despite all of the heat, my energy has been much better than it was last month, and I think part of that is a new electrolyte product I’ve been incorporating into my running routine.

Related Post: Running in Heat & Humidity

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I recently started using Liquid I.V. for any of my runs that are longer than 10 miles, and I think it’s made a huge difference in how I feel after longer runs.  Admittedly, I am a sweater.  And not a cute, danty, glisteny type of sweater.  More like an emerging swamp monster type of sweater.  I have a hunch that some of my post-run difficulties were a result of crap electrolyte balance.  I’ve always used Nuun Hydration, and I think a tablet works just fine for days where my mileage is lower.  I think Liquid I.V. has helped me feel less depleted after my long runs, and has also made my stomach happier.  Which is a huge plus!

How I’ve Fixed my GI Distress

Towards the end of my marathon training, my stomach was letting me know in a whole lot of ways that I won’t share on a public website that it was not pleased.  And as a person who has generally had a pretty strong stomach for most of my life, I was not loving the symptoms I was experiencing to say the least.  I made a few changes somewhat simultaneously, so it’s hard to say if anyone of these changes is more responsible for the improvement I’ve had or if it’s been a combination.  But I’m going to share my 100% anecdotal experience of the things I’ve tried, what I think has been helpful, what hasn’t been super helpful, and what I would have done if I’d had continued issues.

Changed to liquid calorie
Initially my GI issues seemed to only happen during or after my long runs. So I thought that I was potentially just having issues processing the gels and fuels that had previously been fine with. Initially my GI issues seemed to only happen during or after my long runs.  So I thought that I was potentially just having issues processing the gels and fuels that had previously worked.  I was a little perplexed that all of a sudden I was having issues, but I’ve heard from other runners that stomachs change over the years, and it is possible.  The first change I made was switching to liquid calories only during my runs.  I had used Tailwind during my 50k training, and decided to break it back out and also give Nuun Endurance a shot.

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I’ve liked both products, and haven’t had any difficulties with either.  Nuun Endurance seems to be a little pricier per serving than Tailwind, but if you already purchase Nuun products it might be more convenient for you.  Switching my fuel seemed to help my stomach during my long runs, but after a few weeks I noticed that I was having stomach issues after my weekly runs.  While I think the liquid calories were definitely easier on my stomach during my long runs, something was still irritating my stomach.  Liquid calories helped, but didn’t solve my issue.

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Increased hydration
I’ve always been fairly mindful of my hydration.  Especially living in a warmer climate.  My stomach and my head both tell me pretty quickly when I haven’t done a good job of hydrating, but I figured it might not hurt to be just a little more mindful.  I decided to buy a 1L water bottle and fill it at least 4x a day.  Honestly, because I wasn’t initially dehydrated, I didn’t increase too much and I don’t think this had much of an impact.  But I do think dehydration plays a huge role in gut health, so I think this is something worth exploring if you’re having GI issues of any kind.

Increased electrolytes

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I already touched on the fact that I think incorporating Liquid I.V. has been really impactful with my overall energy levels.  But in full transparency, my stomach issues were mostly resolved by the time that I started using the product.  I will say that I was more mindful about making sure I was taking a Nuun tablet any day that I worked out outside.  I was also putting an embarrassing amount of Himalayan sea salt on my food, and I think this had a positive impact on my stomach.

Intermittent fasting
I’m not a huge fan of anything diet-related.  And by not a huge fan, I mean I don’t like it at all.  But after doing some research, I kept coming across different articles that talked about how giving your stomach a longer resting period might be helpful.  If you know me in real life, you know I am not a fun person to be around when I am hungry.  So if I am willing to push breakfast back to 12pm, it means I’m pretty desperate to fix my problem.  And I was.  I gave intermittent fasting a shot for about a week.  Initially, it seemed like my stomach was a little happier after my runs.  But after a few days, my GI distress returned.  And with that, I went back to eating breakfast like a normal human being.  No point in being hungry if it’s not going to be productive.

Changed to non-dairy coffee creamer
For a couple of weeks, I thought that coffee might be causing me issues.  Which really made me frantic.  Pushing back breakfast was hard enough.  It made me cranky and unpleasant.  But eliminating coffee would probably make me non-functional.  It would also probably make me much more likely to start a trashcan fire.  A friend suggested that it might not be the coffee itself, but the dairy creamer I was using in it.  I do know that my stomach doesn’t love huge amounts of dairy, but it will tolerate a moderate amount.

Which made me reluctant to consider switching to non-dairy creamer.  If my stomach can handle greek yogurt and string cheese, I couldn’t see any reason that my coffeemate would be causing me issues.  But then I came across some research that your stomach is much more sensitive when you first wake up, since it’s essentially been resting overnight.  That made some sense, and since I wasn’t interested in not drinking coffee at all, I decided to give almond milk creamer a shot.

And honestly, I don’t love it.  I’ve tried a few brands, and I’ve found one I can accept, but I 100% miss my regular creamer.  However, I noticed the biggest difference in my GI distress since switching.  Which is equal parts relieving and frustrating.  Relieving because I’m not anxiously looking for port-a-potties 6 miles into a run anymore.  And I didn’t have to give up coffee (I just can’t quit).  But frustrating because it seems dumb that 1 tablespoon of creamer can be so upsetting to my stomach.  Win some, lose some I guess.

Slowed down
While I had issues 4 or 5 days a week, I did recognize that the issues were worse on days after track or tempo runs. Which makes sense. Running hard and fast is not easy on your stomach. All of the work means that blood is shunted away from your stomach to your limbs, and you’re more likely to be dehydrated after these efforts. Fortunately, my running programming recently has been much less focused on speed. While I don’t think slowing down would have alleviated my GI distress, I do think it made it easier for my body to adjust and recover. Now that I’ve found a solid solution, my stomach is a little less happy on my harder training days, but it’s not in full revolt. Which is nice.

GI distress running - runners trots - runners stomach after running - diarrhea after running - runners diarrhea

Using a Pro/Prebiotic
This was something I was doing a lot of research on as I was experimenting with all of the changes I already went through.  Supplements are expensive, and it’s hard to really know which brands have quality products, and which brands are a complete waste.  Since I’m not a fan of spending money in general, I decided to wait until I exhausted my other options.  I settled on one product that was fairly pricey *if* nothing else seemed to work.  I’m all for gut health, but honestly I’m really happy that I was able to get things improved without investing in an expensive supplement.  Call me cheap, but I want to believe I can achieve a reasonably healthy gut without making a small investment.  It was something I was willing to do, but I am not upset that I didn’t feel like I had to in the end.

If you’re struggling with GI distress after running, please know there are so many things that can help manage, alleviate, and prevent these symptoms.  Sometimes having a good coach to look at your running habits can help you troubleshoot some options that might be helpful for you.  If you have any questions about what a coaching relationship can look like, or if it is a good option for you, please reach out to me via my Contact Me page.

And if you’re looking for some restorative recipes that might make your tummy just a little happier, check out this post on A to Z Running.

This Weeks Workouts

Total Miles: 64
Total Workouts: 4
50 Mile Training Plan, Week 2
How the Runs Felt
This was a great week of mixed surface running.  Weather threw my running schedule a little out of whack, but I was able to get in all of my workouts.  Monday I had planned on an easy 8 miles at the trail, but when a lightening storm rolled in the plan changed.  Instead, I decided to do my first 5×5 min hard workout on the treadmill.  The first couple of intervals felt fairly sustainable, but the last two were pretty hard to maintain.  It has been nice to have some more focused workouts to break things up.  Working with timed intervals instead of distance is also different for me, and so far I’m liking it.

Wednesday was originally going to be my 5×5 workout, but since the weather was nice and the workout was done on Monday, I decided to do my 10 miles on the trails. Because of work, I had to split up the miles; 7 in the morning and 3 during lunch. The lunch miles were rough with the heat, but at this point I feel like I can run in any condition for 3 miles. I had my second steady run on Thursday, and I noticed that I’m getting more accustomed to being mindful of pacing. Luckily the workouts haven’t been too challenging so far.

GI distress running - runners trots - runners stomach after running - diarrhea after running - runners diarrhea

Friday I got back on the trails for my easy miles, and was pleasantly surprised to see a pace that was under 12.  I think I’m starting to get a little confident in my ability to move faster on the rocks, though I’m still 100% rolling my ankle and tripping every single run.  I also had another boar sighting on Friday.  The trails are definitely keeping things interesting.

Saturday was my long run day, and I was really pumped about running out at the state park and having some company. The trails we explored were beautiful, but they were less technical and vertical than the trails in the wilderness park by home. So my pace was a little faster than most of my trail runs. As much as I like the hard, technical trails, I do think it’s nice to have some variety in my training. I’m so thankful that I have multiple trail options to choose from here in San Antonio. The morning was great, and I felt good the entire run. I will say I wasn’t a super big fan of the GIANT spiders that were still hanging out in the early morning, but the views were incredible.

I also got to spend the week trying out the Oiselle roga shorts that my husband bought me for my birthday.  Ya’ll.  These shorts are amazing.  I never knew running shorts could be this wonderful.  They are light, they don’t chafe, and the back pocket is incredible.  It fits my iPhone XR, and somehow the design keeps it from bouncing around.  After trying out these shorts, I don’t think I can run in anything else.  They are that good.

GI distress running - runners trots - runners stomach after running - diarrhea after running - runners diarrhea

What I’ve Been Listening To
I have an amazing new podcast to recommend!  It’s another investigative journalism podcast, and it’s focused on women who have disappeared from the cities of Juarez and El Paso.  Historically these murders have been blamed on the cartel, but it seems there are other possibilities that need to be explored.  Like a potential serial killer from the US using the violence as a convenient cover.  I’m also still pretty hooked on Run Hard, Mom Hard, The Missionary, and Light In Darkness.

How the WODs felt
This week included more barbell work than I’ve done in a long time, and my hands paid the price. But I am so happy to have more variety in my workouts. I feel like my conditioning has come back pretty quickly, and I’m able to maintain some intensity in my workouts. I’m still using very light weights compared to pre-COVID. I definitely don’t want to end up injured right after the box reopened.

GI distress running - runners trots - runners stomach after running - diarrhea after running - runners diarrhea

What Went Well
I was more mindful this week about working in my core and stretching. This week was still pretty rough in terms of mental health, but I was a lot more mindful about getting off social media and taking breaks to give myself space. I also found a lot of relief in making sure I was eating and cooking healthy meals and spending some afternoons at the pool. I know the world won’t solve it’s problems with race in the next couple of weeks, and it’s important that those of us who want to remain engaged take care of ourselves.

GI distress running - runners trots - runners stomach after running - diarrhea after running - runners diarrhea

What Went Shitty
I’ve noticed that I’m feeling pretty stiff in the early mornings, despite my stretching.  Especially in my feet.  While my mileage isn’t higher than previous training, I know I’m spending more time on my feet because of how long it takes me to run trail miles.  I could probably use a little chiropractic adjustment.

Plans to Improve Next Week  
Next week will be another high mileage week, so my plan is to keep focusing on hydration and stretching after every workout.

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