Now that my knees, hips and legs are strong enough to take the long runs, I have encountered another challenge. I don't blog about it much because it's not exactly a lovely topic of conversation.
And it's taken me a while to figure out that it just ain't normal... Other people run way further and faster than me and it doesn't happen to them. At least, not as regularly as it seems to happen to me.
It's what I have affectionately termed "grumpy gut". The nausea, the tummy that constantly threatens to rebel in a projectile way... and sometimes does.
I finally decided that I've had it with my grumpy gut and I asked my doctor about it. Told her that I could do this short-term while I train for the half-marathon, but that as a life style, it is not fun. Long term I am more likely to find reasons not to do long runs than to grit my teeth through the nausea for the next few decades.
Since I started doing long runs I have been experimenting with what foods to eat before the run, what to take during the run... How not to get dizzy or nauseous. I got the dizziness under control (eat protein before running), but I have been unable to convince my stomach that it is not, in fact, a whirl pool.
A few weekends back I did find a temporary solution. I more or less passed out on the bathroom floor for about half an hour after my long run. I didn't blog about it because I wasn't exactly proud of it... I remember thinking, "You've got to turn on your side. If you lose it and puke on your back, you'll die."
I woke up some time later. On my side... and luckily, not having been sick. From there, I made it to the couch for another half hour before getting up. Not good. But it was better than retching.
I love running. (I know, you non-runners just don't get it...) I'm slow and my knees knock together, but I don't care. I do it anyway. But the tummy troubles leave me trepidatious.
I just couldn't figure it out... These are somewhat long distances (10-15 miles), but not marathons, not ultra distances. And I don't go fast. I average about a 12-minute mile. If I try to go faster, the gut rebels even more, so I purposely do not try to speed up.
My doctor asked me a variety of questions. We figured out that yes, I stay hydrated. No, it is not an overdose of sodium, since I take water rather than Gatorade. And it is not a complete lack of sugar, since I do energy gels (with water) every hour, on the hour.
I'm strict about making sure I'm hydrated and fuelled. I don't want anything to make the situation even worse.
Being an Ironman athlete herself, she understands the delicate balancing act of nutrition and hydration. Her suspicion is that my stomach chemistry is off slightly... too much acidity. And it gets more unbalanced as the long runs get longer and more demanding. She said, "Yeah, you get going, and your stomach gets churning. The faster and further you go, the more it churns and then hurts... and you just feel awful."
I said, "Yes! You GET it!"
I walked out with a prescription for pills that should regulate the chemistry of my stomach. I am to take one the night before each long run... and if that doesn't solve it completely, I can take another one the day of the long run itself.
I'm not one much for pills, but at this point I simply do not care.
Part of me has been dreading these long runs... It's a bit of a paradox, really... loving an activity that literally makes you sick.
My next long run is on scheduled for Saturday. It should be 2.5 hours. For the first time in a long time, I am truly excited about it. Keep your fingers crossed for me that these little pills help.