Runner’s Stomach

Some people don’t have this issue, and if you are one of those amazingly lucky people, you can just keep on scrolling.

But for those of us who are plagued with stomachaches and having to plan running around restrooms, etc. then maybe something here can help you!

What causes our stomachs to hurt while running?

Well, there’s not a totally clear answer The Mayo Clinic states,

“The cause of runner’s diarrhea isn’t clear. Contributing factors likely include the physical jostling of the organs, decreased blood flow to the intestines, changes in intestinal hormone secretion, increased amount or introduction of a new food, and pre-race anxiety and stress. What is clear is that food moves more quickly through the bowels of athletes in training.”

Some common foods that can cause stomach issues while running: fake sugars, fatty foods, caffeine, overeating, and lack of hydration (this may seem counterintuitive, but dehydration can actually lead to diarrhea).

What can you do to help avoid stomach issues during and after running?

The answer to this question can definitely be different for different people but here are a few things that can help.

  1. Avoid foods that commonly cause stomach issues (see above).
  2. Drink plenty of water. Remember, dehydration can cause diarrhea.
  3. Keep a food diary that includes every single thing you eat and drink. You should also include a stress level on each day, because both emotional and physical stress can cause stomach pain. And then each day, rate how you feel and stick to the foods that make you feel well.
  4. You have to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. My husband will never again eat Chinese food before a race or a long run, and I won’t ever eat popcorn before a race. On the flip side of that, a stuffed sweet potato typically sits well on my stomach.

A few things to keep in mind are that a lot of runners deal with this, we just don’t necessarily talk about it, so don’t be embarrassed! Don’t not stop if you have the urge to go. Chances are, it isn’t going to go away, and you could end up feeling worse if you don’t stop. Do your best to find routes that have restrooms and don’t be afraid to pop into a fast food restaurant, gas station, or grocery store. If running near restrooms isn’t an option, you can always carry a wipe with you. Always makes single wrapped wipes that are made to take with you on the go.

Moves That All Runners Should Do

1.) Wall Sits

A wall sit consists of holding yourself in a seated position for a certain amount of time. You can do this while brushing your teeth! You can start with a 30 second wall sit and with practice can work up from there. There are many benefits of a wall seat, but some include: it works your entire lower body, it can basically be done anywhere, and it helps build up your endurance.

2.) Balancing On One Leg

Running requires power in our legs, feet, tendons, and muscles. Balance helps to strengthen the tendons and muscles in our feet and legs and most importantly helps runners to stay injury free. Start by balancing for 15 seconds on each leg and work up from there. If you can’t balance on one leg, it’s okay to touch the opposite toe on the ground or a single finger on a counter or chair in front of you. Remember that we all have to start somewhere, and you will eventually work up to balancing for up to a minute at a time! This is another super easy exercise that can be done anywhere, including while brushing your teeth!

3.) Donkey Kicks & Fire Hydrants

These moves will help to activate your glutes, hamstrings, and IT bands. For donkey kicks, you are use your glute to push your foot up towards the ceiling. You can start with 20 reps on each leg, and eventually work up to doing 3-4 sets of 20 reps on each leg. For fire hydrants, you are going to lift your knee out to the side (like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant, hence the name). You will also start with 20 reps on each leg and work up to doing 3-4 sets of 20 reps.

4. Calf Stretches

These can help prevent plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and other injuries. Stand facing the wall and place one foot forward, toes pointing up the wall and one foot facing forward but behind the opposite foot. Lean forward placing your hands on the wall in front of you. You can also use a curb to stretch your calf as well as just putting yourself into a lunge (or running position) and making sure that your back heal is down. This has been recommended to me by a physical therapist because it replicates the motion that runners use while running.

Working Out While Traveling

Traveling doesn’t mean that you have to give up on all of your hard work! Depending on where you are traveling to, and how you’re traveling, you may have access to a gym, but if not, no problem!

Find A Park or a Shopping Mall

Shopping malls are typically fairly empty and the parking lots are well lit early in the morning. If you are unfamiliar with where you are, a shopping mall parking lot can be a relatively safe place to run around. Parks are also a great option, but preferably in daylight and some parks even offer some strength equipment, but even if there isn’t any, you can use body weight workouts. All you need is your body! If you have a phone, you can use YouTube to look up body weight workouts. I really like Fitness Blender and it’s free and available on YouTube. You can also screenshot or print out body weight exercises using something like this:

bodyweight exercises

There are lots of great options at

Use Your Hotel Room

Even if your hotel doesn’t have a gym, you can still use your room to do the above workouts. Fitness Blender also has good options that can add in some aerobic workouts that you can do inside of your room. You can also use water bottles as weights!

Find a Gym!

If you find yourself becoming bored, you can probably find a local gym that allows you to buy a daily or weekly gym pass.

If you can, walk to your destinations, rather than drive. It allows you to explore the city, but also helps to get your exercise in. Remember that anything is better than nothing and you’re not going to lose your fitness in a week! Enjoy your trip.

Treadmill Pyramid Workout

There are so many ways to do a pyramid workout on the treadmill. You can include speed, you can include walking, you can include incline. Once you figure out what you like, play with it and make it more fun/challenging! This workout is 4 miles and should take roughly 38 minutes to do and once you have that down, you can change it up by adding in incline and/or walking. You can also do an increasing speed workout or a decreasing speed workout.

0-.096 mph
.1-.96.1 mph
1-1.096.2 mph
1.1-1.196.3 mph
1.2-1.296.4 mph
1.3-1.396.5 mph
1.4-1.496.6 mph
1.5-1.596.7 mph
1.6-1.696.8 mph
1.7-1.796.9 mph
1.8-1.97.0 mph
2-2.197.1 mph
2.2-2.397.0 mph
2.4-2.596.9 mph
2.6-2.796.8 mph
2.8-2.996.7 mph
3-3.196.6 mph
3.2-3.396.5 mph
3.4-3.596.4 mph
3.6-3.796.3 mph
3.8-46.2 mph

Tips For Your First Race

The night before the race:

  • Don’t stress! It’s completely normal to feel anxious and excited but remember that you are going to PR tomorrow! Everyone out there is running a race, you’re no different!
  • Eat normal food. Don’t try anything brand new. Eat what works for you and makes you feel good.
  • That said, graze! Don’t feel like you need to super carb load and scarf down food all day.
  • Drink lots of water! This will help to hydrate you for your race.
  • Lay out your clothes and bib. This will help to calm your nerves! Check the weather for the next day and don’t overdress! Remember that you will be hotter racing than you are during a typical run because your body is working harder.
  • Get a good night’s rest, but don’t stress if you don’t get a ton of sleep. Eating well and resting days before (not necessarily just the night before) will help you a ton on race day!

The morning of the race:

  • Do what you normally do when you get up and run in the morning. If this means a cup of coffee and a small breakfast, go for it. If you tend to run on empty in the mornings, stick as closely as you can to what is normal for you.
  • Don’t overdrink or overeat the morning of you race or you may pay for it during the race.
  • Get there early so you can get the lay of the land, do a warmup, and hit the restroom if you need to. Typically the shorter the race, the more of a warmup you actually need.
  • Don’t go out too fast! Once you find a good rhythm, you can always pick up the pace.

After the race:

  • Do a cool down! Even if it’s a brisk walk, keep moving for a bit to calm your body and get your heart rate down.
  • Refuel. Most races have post race food, take advantage if you can! Try to consume food and water or a sports drink within 30 minutes of your race. This will help to replace your energy and repair microdamage caused by strenuous exercise.
  • Put on dry clothes! Nothing feels better than getting out of wet, sweaty clothes after a race.

The next day:

  • Move your body. This doesn’t mean to go out and run miles on miles, but perhaps take a walk or go on an easy bike ride. This will help to increase your circulation to fix those sore muscles.
  • Reflect! What went well with your race? What can you work on? How can you make your next race even better?
  • Be proud of yourself! Not everyone can do what you just did, take a moment (or two) to appreciate what your body did!

Recovering Well

Chances are if you are an athlete, you have had to allow your body to recover at some point. This could be recovery after a difficult workout or it could be recovery after an injury.

A few tips on recovering after a long/hard workout:

Image result for meme hydration
  1. Rehydrate. Your body can lose around 17 oz per hour or 8.5 oz per 30 minutes of running, so you want to make sure to replenish that.
  2. Eat: refuel your body. It’s best if you can eat within 30 minutes of completing your workout. Make sure to eat something with carbs/protein to replace your lost glycogen as well as to help repair your muscles. It doesn’t have to be a full on meal, a snack will work just fine. Some easy ideas are an apple, string cheese, nuts, a banana.
  3. Roll/stretch. It can be tough to build in the time for a rolling session. You don’t have to spend 20 minutes rolling unless you want to though. I like to spend about 5 minutes rolling out my legs after a tough workout; but you can always shower first and while you’re relaxing before bed, go ahead and roll out those legs! My chiropractor explained that once you roll onto a tight or painful spot, to go ahead and just lay there for a moment, until the muscle releases. Youtube is a great starting point if you’re not entirely sure how to roll out.

This roller from Target is great!

A few tips on recovering after an injury:

  1. Listen to your doctor!
  2. Listen to your body! I’ve been cleared by a doctor before and my body still hurt, so I took more time off. No one knows your body better than you do.
  3. Take it slow and easy! A good rule of thumb is if you’ve been off for x amount of weeks, it’s going to take you about x amount of time to be on your way back to normal. For example, if a foot injury takes you out for 4 weeks, expect it to take an additional 4 weeks to build back your fitness.
  4. Don’t stop working out if you can help it. A stress fracture will obviously take you out of running but it doesn’t have to stop you from riding a bike or lifting weights. This will not only help keep your body from losing some of its fitness and endurance, but it will also keep your mind in shape as well. Recently, I had a bad fall and did some major damage to my ankle, which meant absolutely no running so I bought a spin bike from Amazon and downloaded the Peloton app and it has been so much fun staying active and changing up my workout!

5. Listen to your body. This is worth repeating! If it doesn’t feel right or if it registers as pain, stop immediately!

Favorite Foods For a Runner

Did you know that sweet potatoes have more potassium than bananas?

Image result for sweet potato

Healthy individuals need about 4700mg of potassium in a day and bananas pack about 422mg of potassium. Sweet potatoes have about 540mg and if you add a ½ avocado to it, you can add about 487mg. Also, adding a cup of white or black beans can add another 600-800mg.

Image result for sweet potato with avocado and beans

A quick, easy lunch or dinner can easily be a stuffed sweet potato. It doesn’t even have to be baked. All you need is a microwave! And depending on what you like, you can easily change it up.

My absolute favorite sweet potato is stuffed with smoked chicken, a bit of bbq sauce, cheddar cheese, plain Greek yogurt, black beans, and topped with avocado.

If you’re baking it, stab it with a fork a few times and rub a light layer of coconut water on it and bake it at 400 for about 40 min, turning it over about half way through.

If you’re microwaving it, stab it with a fork, and wrap it in a lightly wet paper towel. Cook it on high for 2-3 min, then take it out, turn it and re-wrap it in a wet paper towel. Cook it again for 2-3 minutes and check to see if it’s done by poking it with a fork. If it doesn’t go in easily, then repeat the wet paper towel and cooking it on high for 2-3 minutes.

The absolute potassium topper would be to drink coconut water with you delicious lunch or dinner! One cup has about 600mg and its natural sugars and electrolytes will not only rehydrate you but can also replace lost glycogen after a hard workout.

I would love to hear what else you put on your sweet potatoes!