Your stomach hurts when you run due to runner’s stomach. This has many other names such as runner’s gut, runner’s belly and runner’s trots. It is referred to in many ways and is very unpleasant when you experience it.
This is more formally referred to as abdominal cramping. Its symptoms include the urge to use the bathroom, diarrhea, and nausea and experiencing any of these while running can make your pace slow down and it makes it extremely difficult to go through with your workout. Runner’s stomach has root causes, but there are ways to treat and prevent it as well.
The common belief is that runner’s stomach is caused simply by the act of running itself but there can be dietary and hormonal factors as well. Learn more here.
If you have been running for a long period of time, the blood flow that is usually focused on your digestive system gets moved to your cardiovascular system instead. This may cause your digestive process to get interrupted and irritated. This may give you the strong urge to remove the contents of your digestive system and can even lead to you having diarrhea. During this your body also continues to move up and down as you are running at a continuous pace. This will also increase the urge to use the bathroom since the waste in your intestines is being moved around and the acid in your stomach is also being sloshed around. Lastly, running is also capable of causing of hormones like cortisol to be released. The release of cortisol is a pleasant and energetic feeling, the euphoric experience that is often referred to as runner’s high. However these hormones can possibly effect your digestive system and contribute to the exertion on your body during a strenuous activity such as running.
Runner’s stomach is pretty common and is most distance runners experience it. A research showed that around 30 to 90 percent of runners and professional athletes experience runner’s stomach during racing events or training. Over the course of 30 days, a study conducted on 150 runners showed that men experienced runner’s stomach 80 percent of the time during training and women experienced them 70 percent of the time.
There is no surefire way to get rid of runner’s stomach. However, there are preventive methods that you can try to reduce the effect of symptoms.
You can start with your diet. Alterations to your diet can improve your performance when you are running. It may also help in lessening discomfort and pain when you are training or taking part in races. If your diet is low in particular sugars and carbohydrates, it may have a desirable effect on stomach pain when you are exercising. This kind of diet, sometimes also known as a low FODMOP diet, is a diet in which you refrain from consuming wheat and dairy as well as artificial sweeteners, honey and certain fruits and vegetables. You also have be cautious about the time you eat and drink. Study shows that if you eat and drink right before you workout it will cause you abdominal cramps.
If your digestive system is healthy and you have regular bowel movements then you will definitely see a decrease in stomach pain when you run.
Another popular tactic is to start taking probiotic supplements which are designed to strengthen your gut and will lessen your urge to go to bathroom when you are busy training.
Taking probiotic supplements for a month helped in increasing endurance and digestion even in high temperatures in a study conducted on a runner. Another study similar to this one showed that probiotics play a role in reducing stomach pain for runners when participating in a marathon.
Insufficient hydration can also be behind cramps, stitched and nausea in your stomach when you are running. It is important to hydrate your body before and during a long run but figuring out how to do so can be a bit of a conundrum since drinking more than what you need can worsen cramps and irritate your digestive system even more. The most safe way of ensuring you get enough water is to get into the habit of drinking plentiful water regularly as well as drinking beverages infused with electrolytes before and after you run.
It should be kept in mind that even well-trained athletes experience runner’s stomach every now and then. Do not fret too much if you get it sometimes. Simply find out a routine that accommodates your system and stick to it and you will not suffer through extreme and constant abdominal pain. It will take some time to figure out what works and is right for you but once you do make sure you stick to it. Many runners have a pre-run snack before the run and a recovery food afterwards that stays the same and allegedly helps them charge up as well as recover.
If you are experiencing runner’s stomach even after taking all the usual preventive measures then you may be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. This condition is not related to running but has similar symptoms to runner’s stomach and can be triggered by physical activities. You must visit a doctor if you experience symptoms such as frequent diarrhea, constipation, cramping, bloating, nausea or blood in your feces.