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Can we talk about running GI problems??

(18 Posts)
actiongirl1978 Sat 03-Jan-15 16:00:39

Does it happen to you? How do you avoid it? What is your diet like and can you maintain your ideal weight on that diet?

I have this problem almost every time I go over about 3km, the pounding and up and down motion gives me a terrible cramp and there is nothing for it but to find a bush. And it is very much runs ifyswim.....

I hate it - feel icky for the rest of my run, have the embarrassment of using bushes, it slows me down and messes up my pace!

And yes, I do go to the loo several times before I go out. I need to run in the mornings so as not to take away family time, so I have to get up and go to the loo straight away. I can sometimes 'go' three times or more before I leave and still the cramps get me.

My diet (aside from the last two weeks) is mainly fruit, nuts, veg, meat, fish, dark chocolate and wine and all dairy products. I don't like bread gives me tummy ache, pasta I find boring, avoid potatoes as they are a pointless veg! Sometimes have some brown rice or lentils.

The only advice I can find online is to avoid dairy and high fibre. But my diet is mostly high fibre and I am not sure how you can eat a healthy low fibre diet confused

I am panicky about group races, the last one I did I managed to give myself piles as I tried to go so much in the portaloos before the race! I am upping my distances, but honestly last week on a 9 mile run, I had to go twice blush


And apologies in advance if this is too much information...!

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 03-Jan-15 16:04:19

I think dehydration can be a factor? Has always been more of an issue for me on a hit day when I have not drink beforehand because I didn't want to need a wee...

If its always around the 3k mark can you do a 3k loop, have a shit at home/public toilets and then keep running?

actiongirl1978 Sat 03-Jan-15 16:17:17

itsallgoingtobefine... Love that you get right down to business calling a spade a spade grin

I can't really, I run in the country so I drive to a safe place to run (eg. not fast A roads) and park the car and go from there, there are no toilets either, its a bush or nothing!

Never thought about dehydration, I never ever drink before a run, usually get up and go, water goes through me like a seive so the same as you I try to avoid weeing! Wouldn't more water make it worse?

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 03-Jan-15 16:24:24

I think dehydration is a known factor - have a google. It doesn't happen very often to me thankfully, so I haven't done any real experimentation.

Water doesnt go straight through me though (although anything with artificial sweeteners does)

Doyouthinktheysaurus Sat 03-Jan-15 16:26:42

The only thing I have found that works is every time is to run where there are toiletswink I'm fortunaten in that I can run along the seafront which has 3 sets of loos in 2 miles. It's a dull run though so I prefer not to all the time.

I suffer very badly on long runs when prefer to go off the beaten track. I think it's a certain apprehension at the distance and caffeine and diet can aggravate things too.

I have made it home or to loos all but once, but it's a close call sometimesblush

Imodium for races is my only advice. I took it to very good effect when I ran my marathon. Didn't go for a week afterward though.....

actiongirl1978 Sat 03-Jan-15 16:32:04

Immodium? Yes thats a good idea, how far in advance of the race did you take it? I have a HM in April, thought I don't think it would be a good idea every week for my long run...

I drink caffeine free, I wonder if the chemicals in that could make a difference?

In terms of dehydration, I could try having a big drink before I leave and see what happens.. wee breaks maybe instead but it would have to be more pleasant than the alternative!

Suzannewithaplan Sat 03-Jan-15 17:05:50

it sounds like an IBS type thing Actiongirl (?) I'm thinking it's psychosmatic and is a vicious circle such that anxiety about it happening causes it to happen?

Im no stranger to GI problems (although they are not the same as yours) and I've found that they are very much psychosomatic, it's just my weak point for stress really.

I've never found any real solutions, changing my diet makes no difference, it's usually the case that the more important it is for me to be feeling ok (in the gastro-intestinal sense) the more likely it is that I wont feel ok.

I guess I would go for the route with toilets solution.
Sorry I cant offer anything more helpful...perhaps it's to do with the overall amount of stress in your life?

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 03-Jan-15 17:19:50

If you are going down the immodium route a)do some reading about why it may not be a good idea, and b) try it out beforehand to figure out doasge/timing/side effects etc.

actiongirl1978 Sat 03-Jan-15 17:20:43

Thanks Suzanne. Hmm that's an interesting theory. In September my heart arrythmia (erratic heartbeat, nothing important and certainly not under treatment) started me hyperventilating. I think I have been doing it for many years on and off, but this was the first time I have seen a doctor for it and had it labelled.

I still can't get a handle on it really, though I am fine once I start running, but I wonder if I could be overbreathing and therefore a bit more windy ifyswim?

When I am not running I breathe diaphramatically through my nose, but I find that almost impossible when running and breathe through my mouth and into my chest.

Funny that you should say stress though - that's what the doctor said, but I have nothing to be stressed about at all! I spoke to my family and husband and no-one could come up with anything.

I know what you mean about needing to be ok and thats when you are not. I literally can't just go out for a run and hope for the best, it needs great preparation!

Suzannewithaplan Sat 03-Jan-15 18:00:41

Im not sure if stress is even the right term, it feels more to me that certain problems are habits that my body has got into and I cant find a way of getting out of them, or that the bodily distress is linked to some sense of unease or difficulty or something

afaik IBS is notoriously nebulous, if indeed that is the most appropriate category for your difficulties.
I've heard of others having the same problem, the whole deal of having to plan everything around one's digestive difficulties is tiring and exasperating, sometimes it seems like a way of trying to grab some time for yourself, a not very helpful sort of defense mechanism.

I hope you find a solution!

Ohnodisaster Sat 03-Jan-15 18:03:41

I had this when I first started running-fine up to about 2 miles then v uncomfortable-always managed to hold on til I got home though!
I did take Imodium for my first race but after running for a few months it went away thank goodness!

Ohnodisaster Sat 03-Jan-15 18:05:00

I did have some success with cutting down on dairy and fibre the day before a run

actiongirl1978 Sat 03-Jan-15 18:11:39

OhNo, thats what I was thinking, but what did you eat instead?

HarriettandBob Sat 03-Jan-15 20:17:15

I have heard lactose can cause problems. Could you try going lactose free (easier than dairy free) for a few weeks. It worked for me.

Ohnodisaster Sat 03-Jan-15 21:28:04

Meat or fish and veg and less fibrey carbs-so small amount of white bread, pasta or rice rather than whole grain.
Bagel or porridge (made with water) and banana for breakfast on race day.

actiongirl1978 Sat 03-Jan-15 21:47:49

Harriet I will google lactose free as I am ashamed to say I don't know what the difference is with that and dairy blush

Thanks ohno, will give it a go before my next long run.

MrsDesperado Mon 05-Jan-15 14:44:44

OP I could have written your post. It really takes the fun out of running doesn't it?

Nothing to add I'm afraid but watching this thread with interest in the hope of finding a solution.

Vonnegut Mon 05-Jan-15 16:17:17

Feeling your pain, OP (and everyone else who's in the same Bovril-boat...)

I'm not sure about the dehydration theory, although proper hydration is important generally and you should never monkey with this for the sake of toilet avoidance. Turds are 70% water apparently, but if you're dehydrated your body sucks the moisture out of your turds in the intestine making them harder and more difficult to pass - I know that this can lead to constipation, rather than increased frequency. It might well be that throwing vigorous activity (ie running) into the mix is the factor that makes it go the opposite way, but I'm really not convinced. In any case, good hydration is vital, so I guess it makes sense to give it a try?

I've never found a workable solution, but I do know that, like Beetlejuice, if you think about crapping yourself the whole time you're running, you more than likely will end up needing to go. I try and not stress about it, and have designed a running loop that includes four potential toilet stop areas - my house, an Asda, a Morrison's and a public robo-loo (absolute last resort, as I'm convinced that those things are not trustworthy and will either lock you in for eternity or auto-open when you're mid-stream, exposing you to the world). I also always carry loo-roll with me nowadays, just in case. I've only ever had one 'outdoors-in-the-wild' crapping experience, and it wasn't too awful, but it would have been quite nasty if I hadn't had loo-roll. Too. Much. Information.

In the meantime, while you try and find what works for you, you might want to read Beth Risdon's blog, Shut Up + Run, which will offer you a very normalising perspective on this somewhat embarrassing issue, along with some useful advice, and a few laughs into the bargain. Beth lives by the motto, 'never trust a fart'. Nuff said...

Shut Up + Run

Good luck!

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