Warning: This is one of those times where I am talking about the ugliness of running… proceed with caution.
Ahh the ever-present injuries a runner could face… runner’s knee, shin splints, IT-band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis, stress fractures… and stomach problems, aka “Runner’s Tummy.” We as runners are up against a very unpleasant list of possible aches and pains. Runner’s Tummy seems to be the one that chose me.
When I first started seriously training for my half-marathon, I noticed that my stomach was beginning to cause me problems. The more mileage I added and the more serious I became with my training the less foods I could keep down. At first it was mostly Italian and Mexican-type foods that would trigger the rumblings. I would be up for hours at night in pretty bad pain. Once I could get my stomach to settle I could go back to sleep and would be fine the next morning. I started noting which foods caused the bad pain and sickness, which ones just made me feel rumbly, and which ones were fine.
I researched some running articles and found that this wasn’t an uncommon thing for runner’s to experience. Running for long periods of time, or at high intensities (like speed work) causes a greater impact on your GI tract. Some articles suggested that running irritates pre-existing conditions that may have previously gone unnoticed, like being lactose intolerant.
While I haven’t been tested for a lactose intolerance, I believe it to be the culprit. I can no longer enjoy certain pizzas, although I have been trying different ones and can tell you which ones I have to avoid. I can no longer eat at Mexican restaurants either, the cheese they use there completely kills my stomach. It’s very heartbreaking because chicken soft tacos from Plaza Azteca are a weakness of mine.
I have been reading running blogs like The Local Elite, who found themselves becoming lactose intolerant later in life. I have also been reading up on runners who follow Paleo diets. While I am not ready to go completely in that direction, it is probably best that I remove dairy from my diet…
One of the issues I am having is where I will get the calcium besides vitamins (which also have a tendency to hurt my stomach) and how can I cook things that require these products. Ironically the day that I was really pondering this, Shine or Set, discussed the benefits of hemp seeds. I have seen hemp milk at Whole Foods before but had never really thought anything of it. I have tried almond milk too, but it’s kind of watery tasting to me. I guess if I’m cooking with it, it wouldn’t make a difference. I have used it in smoothies as well. Textures of foods cause me to be an even pickier eater, the “watery-ness” of almond milk doesn’t go down very easily for me. Hemp milk however, I have heard and read, has a consistency that is closer to actual milk than the other alternatives. So I am very interested in trying it out.
And Cheese. I love cheese. I mean it’s a great compliment to many meals. Ever since I started noticing my stomach aches, I was taking note on what I had eaten prior. I do know that certain cheeses are really bothersome, especially when mixed with other foods. And there are others that don’t have an effect on me at all. I guess it’ll just be trial and error if I don’t want to fully remove it from my diet.
Decisions, decisions… To be dairy-free or not to be?
Readers!!! What are your experiences with Runner’s Tummy? Anyone have weird food issues during/after training? Advice on lactose intolerance? Have any suggestions on a dairy-free diet? What about going Paleo?
Comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.