by Karen Campbell, specialist in personalised nutrition for endurance runners from beginners to professionals.
Is your running performance blighted by Gastrointestinal (GI) / digestive distress?
This is a common symptom experienced by athletes at all levels1 but is little talked about.
Remember Paula Radcliffe’s marathon experience?
Between 30%-65% of runners will suffer from some sort of GI distress; with cramping, bloating and loose bowel movements being the most frequent symptoms2
The 3 main causes of GI problems are:
- Physiological (caused by reduced blood flow to the gut during exercise)
- Mechanical (stimulating bouncing effect of running, for example)
- Nutritional (such as excess ingestion of carbohydrate drinks).
and this can lead to discomfort, anxiety and under performance.
Other things which may be contributing to your GI distress may include:
- Alcohol consumption
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Emotional stress
- Pathogenic bacteria
- Excess pressure on the abdominal wall3.
“Ultimately, these symptoms can impair performance and possibly prevent athletes from winning or even finishing a race. Most runners simply try to put up with it! YOU DON’T HAVE TO.
TIPS to alleviate Runners Digestive Distress:
- Manipulating the fibre content of the diet during training
- Adding in probiotics (“friendly” bacteria)
- Using multiple transportable carbohydrates as fuel during a race.
If you’d like to learn more to help you improve your running performance with nutrition (including advice and TIPS to alleviate Runners Digestive Distress) book onto our next online course: Easy Nutrition for Healthy Runners hosted by Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell.
1de Oliviera E, Burini R (2014), Carbohydrate-Dependent, Exercise-Induced Gastrointestinal Distress, Nutrients, 6:4191-4199.
2Simons S, Kennedy R (2004), Gastrointestinal Problems in Runners, Current Sports Medicine Reports, DOI: 10.1249/00149619-200404000-00011.
3Casey E, Mistry D, Macknight J (2005), Training Room Management of Medical Conditions: Sports Gastroenterology, Clinics in Sports Medicine, 24:4191-4199.