GI Distress….Oh Boy!


They Should Probably Put the Potty In The Middle Again

GI distress finally hit me yesterday.  I’m not sure what it was but I am glad it happened yesterday which is 3 weeks prior to Ironman Texas.  I got started at 10:30am which is about 3 hours later than I would normally start as well as 3.5 hours later than the race will start.  I am hoping that this had something to do with it and not what I was consuming.

I went out to the lake to swim 2.4 miles in my new race kit as well as the TYR Torque swimskin to see how it all worked together.  As soon as I got there I noticed a ton of sail boats but the were out pretty far.  What I finally noticed as the handful of people on jet skis.  This made me nervous right away because who knows if they know how to control them and whether or not they were drinking.  I immediately decided to that I was going to swim close to the shore line and go about 1/4 mile and turn around and do this repeatedly until I got the 2.4 miles in.  As soon as I started swimming I could feel just how cold the water was as well as the turbulence being created by the boats and the jet skis.  It was choppy enough from the winds but toss in the additional chop created by the boats and it was rough.  I swallowed a lot of water and after about a mile I decided to get out because the jet skis were getting closer and closer.  My safety was more important than getting in the 2.4 miles.

Ass soon as I got out of the water I felt a rumble in my stomach.  Then it hit me, and I needed to rush to the bathroom.  I went to the baseball complex and with my luck the door was locked.  Really?  I got back in my car and rushed to a port of potty and I took care of it so to speak.  After I was done I started analyzing my breakfast which was the same exact breakfast before every long training day.  Bowl of granola with coconut milk, rick cakes with honey and sliced banana and a smoothie.  Except this time I had a second smoothie because I wasn’t going to be starting until 10:30a and I think that along with the gallon of lake water I swallowed did the damage.

The problem was that every time I had to let one go I was afraid for myself.  My stomach never felt like it was going to revolt but I had the fear of God in me.  As I was running I decided that my name for the run was going to be Gassious Clay.  I was just having the worst gas and air bubbles.  It was not a lot of fun but I slowed down and it started to  get better.  I got through the 3 hour and 40 minute run without anymore issues, other than some dehydration because there was not a lot of water out on the road.

As is typical, when I run into a situation I go looking for some advice and head right to the inter-webs and Google it.  As luck would have it had an article about easing GI distress during a long race.  It made a lot of sense for the future, but I’m still not sure it was because of anything that happened other than the late start and having to change-up my breakfast habits.  If I had eaten my breakfast at 4am as usual and able to take care of my bathroom scenarios this would not have been an issue.

That being said here are the 3 tips that were provided in the article:

» Slow down. Yes it’s a race, but sometimes slowing down can actually save time in the long run: “One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received is that it generally takes less time to settle an angry stomach than you’ll lose if you try to race through it,” Rapp says. Slowing down will lower your heart rate and allow more blood to get to your stomach for better digestion.

» Tune In. Drink some plain water once GI troubles strike, advises Hoffman. “It can dilute the sugar concentrated in the stomach, and ease the acidic feeling some.” Rapp goes the opposite route and drinks Coke when things go awry, highlighting just how individual nutrition requirements are and the importance of experimentation in training. Both dehydration and overhydration are major causes of GI trouble, so try to listen to your body to determine if you need more/less fluids or perhaps more/less sodium.

» Stop eating. This is a pretty general recommendation from all the pros. Even with a stomach of steel and a fueling equation that she sticks to like glue,  multiple 70.3 champion Kelly Williamson dials back on the calories and fluids when she starts to feel too full. Eating more when your GI system is struggling will only exacerbate the problem.


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  1. Jen says:

    Uh, soooo not fun. I’ve been a victim of GI issues on more than one occasion and that “fear of God” feeling plus feeling bad on top of it, just really is the pits.

    I have to think that you gulped something in the water that did you in, more than anything else. But who knows? If fueling wasn’t so important there are times I’d rather not eat at all rather than risk the GI issues.
    Jen recently posted..BIG NEWS! We are making a running documentary!My Profile

  2. misszippy says:

    Ugh. Nothing worse! Like you said, glad it was yesterday instead of 3 weeks from now. I used to have a lot of GI issues, especially in hot weather. I now take a peppermint oil tablet before long runs/races and it seems to do the trick for me now.

    Don’t blame you for avoiding the jet skis. Probably a very smart move!
    misszippy recently posted..Check out my (amazing) running partnerMy Profile

  3. good to know.
    the tips, that is. not that you had GI issues.
    think it has happened to everyone at some point.

    glad you figured it out.
    MilesMusclesMom recently posted..The Reveal II: Mission Miami to Key West!!My Profile

  4. I am often plagued by GI issues. My stomach doesn’t handle “fake” food very well, and I’ve finally had to give up using gels altogether.

    I found a tonic that I won’t leave home without, especially for a long training day or race. It’s called PREV. I put a small vial of this liquid in my bento box on the bike and in my Fuel Belt for the run. At my last 70.3, I felt the stomach trouble coming on as I dismounted my bike and ran through transition. I took a swig of PREV as I was heading out on the run and everything settled down and I was able to finish without incident.
    Molly @ The F-Spot recently posted..8 Days and CountingMy Profile

  5. Matt Oravec says:

    All 3 tips are KEY!

    You could have had a bug too. Sometimes you have something in your system that just pushes that emergency exit button and it’s a one and done deal. Glad you got the wetsuit off in time ;)

    As for the lake water option… VERY HIGH possibility. Have talked to so many people that have dealt w/ this due to the lake issue. Bacterias and microbes in there ready to just rip your stomach up!
    Matt Oravec recently posted..Some bike porn… and complete embarassmentMy Profile

  6. Natasha says:

    Ughhh how not fun! I’ve only had this happen during training runs and that is horrible enough I couldn’t imagine during a race!! Slow down is usually the best advice!
    Natasha recently posted..Over the Edge for Special Olympics!My Profile

  7. Maria Simone says:

    Swallowing that water on your swim is a likely contributor to the GI distress. Even if there were other factors, that will not make you feel great. Also, the choppy water can be a problem as well. The good news is that this is great simulation for race day.

    At IMLP last year, I actually got a little bit seasick on the second loop because of the chop, which was coming from the other competitors. hahahahaha!

    Taper baby!!!!!!!
    Maria Simone recently posted..Lessons about pancreatic cancer and triathlonMy Profile

  8. Caroline says:

    oh I am a pro at GI issues…
    the only water is key for me now and also as soon as I feel a tiny bit of nausea I do not eat for the rest of the race. I now only eat waffle stingers. and small bites.

    I used to chew gum and I realized that it did make my GI problems worst.
    Caroline recently posted..Mother’s Day Giveaway!!!!My Profile

  9. Marlene says:

    Yikes, no fun at all. Hopefully it was just a one-off (could swallowing all that water have played a role?) and won’t flare up again. It’s a terrible, helpless feeling. Good for you pushing through! It sounds like you handled it well.
    Marlene recently posted..April 2012My Profile

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