There are definitely ways to prevent a run-induced stomachache, but if it's too late and you're past the point of no return, then listen up: we continued our talk with DIAKADI running and training coaches Elijah Markstrom and Angela Tieri to get the skinny on treating an upset tummy after a hard run.
First Things First
If you got to this page because you currently have a stomachache, the first note that Elijah made was to consider what you ate, and when. "When and what did I eat prior to the run, what did I consume during the run, and when and what will I consume after the run?" Elijah said that some stomach issues are the result of chronic issues, while others are more acute and circumstantial.
"When performing high-intensity exercise, blood is shunted from digestion to the periphery, in order to accommodate the oxygen demand to the working muscles," said Elijah. In other words, your stomach is freaking out because it can't digest properly when you're running — meaning much of these stomach issues come from food and digestion.
Another factor to consider: are you on your period? Angela told us that women who run during their cycle are subject to extra stomach distress and sensitivity, and suggests you "run a route with public restrooms," if that's the case for you. Don't say we didn't warn ya.
In summary, you're feeling crappy for one of these reasons:
- You ate the wrong foods
- You ate too much
- You're dehydrated
- You're on your period
- You have chronic stomach issues (in which case, see a doctor)
Now let's get into how we prevent and treat these issues.
- Wait 30–60 minutes to eat. Your body has just been through the ringer, and your digestion has essentially been shut down during your exercise. "It takes a while to reverse," said Elijah. "Wait until you are fully cooled down to eat." Speaking of which . . .
- Cool down. A proper cooldown aids in stomach healing and settling, and skipping one can worsen stomach issues. Before you jump in the shower, wind down: a simple 10–15 minute cooldown will "clear metabolic waste and start to ease off that ceased digestion," said Elijah.
- Foam roll. "Foam rolling can help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system," said Elijah. "Don't go from 60–0; ease off of the workout." He suggests laying flat on the roller, under the length of the spine and take some deep breaths. Learn more about the benefits of foam rolling for runners here.
- Drink lots of water. Angela mentioned that stomach issues can often come from dehydration, and mentioned that she has dealt with post-run nausea after a particularly hot run with little water. "I focus on liquid calories or refreshing, water-based foods like watermelon, making sure to add a pinch salt to my water."
- Try vinegar. Elijah mentioned its basic pH can help lower stomach acid. One of these apple cider vinegar drinks might do the trick for you.
While these tips are remedial on a case by case basis, if your issues are chronic and seem to be coming up each time you run, then it's time to consult your doctor.