Thursday, June 14, 2007

Grumpy gurging gut - be gone!

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.

7 comments:

angie's pink fuzzy said...

fingers crossed!

Misty said...

You indicate that your runs are not "long" - don't cut yourself short. You're progress has been amazing.

I'm not into any one sport enough to have the same conviction (or problems as you).

While reading your post, I had two thoughts...how much fluid are you drinking in the hour before your run and during your run? and would nibbling on crackers during the run help?

My own experience with nausea was two pregnancies and anytime I drink too much liquid (my thresh-hold seems to be 5 - 500ml bottles a day - would likely be more with an increased physical regime). Do you know what your limit is?

With too much liquid in my tummy, it feels it's floating. When the water isn't absorbing into my system, it would result in similar results if I added immediate physical exertion to the mix.

Soda crackers or pretzels do help to restore balance to an acidic stomach (and to a floating stomach). Through my expereience with hiking, I learned that a little salt is necessary when you are sweating during such prolonged physical exertion. It picks me up pretty good on a long hike.

Some suggestions...I'm sure you'll find the source and that you'll be able to experience all the joy in running you deserve - the anticipation, the feeling of exertion during the run, the sense of accomplishment and progress you make in your goals, without adding a bathroom floor nap to the routine.

Good luck!

Turtle Guy said...

My experience with increased acid levels in the tummy has been simply stress-related. Sounds like you've covered most bases fairly well, and these wee miracle pills may be just that. I'm not one for popping pills myself, but considering the source, I think you're good to at least give it a shot.

Backofpack said...

Sarah,
Two thoughts. One, I couldn't find a gel that didn't make me nauseous. I finally decided they are not worth it, thus the chocolate soy milk. Sounds nasty, but works for me. The other thing I've heard (but not tried) is to sip the gels, sip, wait five minutes, sip again, wait, sip, etc.

The second thought is s-caps. One an hour - it really helped as well, cut any remaining nauseousness, and eliminated my post run sickness.

I take a daily stomach pill - my stomach's been trashed since the whole gall bladder illness. It helps me a lot, but I still had trouble with gatorade-type drinks and gels.

Now, I know my hydration is all messed up by my medications, so the s-caps may or may not help you. But, I would certainly give them a try. For Eric, they eliminated muscle cramping.

Hope you find the cure!

robtherunner said...

I had trouble with this in the beginning as well and still do from time to time. My solution was to run where a bathroom was close... just in case. The other solution was to pay attention to what I ate the night before.

I have a pretty stable gut now, but I had to force it into compliance by eating right before I ran and also eating on the run. If you can slam down some tacos or chili and then go for a run eventually your stomach will give up and decide it better not mess with you anymore:)

Granny said...

Oh, i hope it went well for you. Both the run and the tummy.

Alia said...

Well???