In the hours after last week's race, I kept recounting all the possible things that could've caused my digestive disaster. I realized that although I've only had one other incident where I couldn't finish a run, I may have been having this issue for a while. In fact, I can recall experiencing tummy aches as far back as a year and a half ago. I just never connected the dots (duh, I know...). Monday morning came and I emailed my nutritionist, but she was out of the office for a few days. So I emailed my doctor and she told me to eat a bland diet and go dairy-free. My coach agreed. I didn't really know what a "bland diet" was so I googled it and found this.
Foods You Can Eat Here some foods you can eat on a bland diet:
* Milk and other dairy products, low-fat only * Cooked, canned, or frozen vegetables * Fruit and vegetable juices * Cooked or canned fruit with the skin and seeds removed, such as applesauce or canned peaches * Breads, crackers, and pasta made with refined white flour * Refined hot cereals, such as oatmeal and cream of wheat * Lean, tender meats, such as poultry, whitefish, and shellfish that are steamed, baked, or grilled with no added fat * Creamy peanut butter * Pudding and custard * Eggs * Tofu * Soup, especially broth * Weak tea
Foods to Avoid Here are some foods you should NOT eat when you are on a bland diet:
* Fatty dairy foods, such as whipped cream or high-fat ice cream * Strong cheeses, such as bleu or Roquefort * Raw vegetables * Vegetables that make you gassy, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, green peppers, and corn * Fresh berries and other fresh fruit * Dried fruit * Whole-grain or bran cereals * Whole-grain breads, crackers, or pasta * Pickles, sauerkraut, and similar foods * Spices, such as hot pepper and garlic * Foods with a lot of sugar or honey in them * Seeds and nuts * Highly seasoned cured or smoked meats and fish * Fried foods
You should also avoid medicine that contains aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
Other Diet Tips Here are some tips for when you are on a bland diet:
* Eat small meals, and eat more often during the day. * Chew your food slowly, and chew it well. * Stop cigarette smoking, if you smoke. * Do not eat within 2 hours of when you go to bed. * Stop eating foods that are NOT on the "do not" list if you don’t feel well after eating them. * Drink fluids slowly.
I reviewed my food diary and realized that I was eating everything this list was saying not to. But I had nothing to lose so I decided to give it a try. Not gonna lie, it was hard. I'm a huge cheese eater and went cold turkey without it. In fact, I went cold turkey on a lot of things, and ended up eating mostly brown rice, chicken, and bread rolls - with applesauce for dessert. The most unappetizing meals of my life. No wonder it's called a bland diet.
Well the good news is that it seems to be helping. I started a journal logging *everything* - which came in handy when I was finally able to speak with my nutritionist on Friday. Here are my notes from our session:
GI issues are typically caused by fat and fiber * So I guess the Red Lobster dinner (where I ate cheesy biscuits and clam chowder) wasn't the best decision I've ever made. As was the entire box of asiago cheese crackers I had eaten earlier in the day.
1-2 days before a race/long run: - Avoid whole wheat (fiber) and nuts (fat) - Eat refined carbs and sugars - Eat lean protein like chicken, white fish or shellfish, but not salmon (it's a fatty fish)
On the morning of a long run/race: * Eat breakfast 3 hours before Start Time * Don't eat a meal within 2 hours of a long run/ race. While running, blood is being sent to the muscles and head. Eating within this time period shunts the blood and disrupts the digestive system. I have read of many people waking up at an ungodly hour to eat before a race and never quite understood why. Now I get it.
Everyone (nutritionist, coach, me) agreed that I probably shouldn't run another half until I get this figured out. So I've downgraded tomorrow's half (Half Moon Bay) to the 10K and am putting all these new things I've learned to the test. If all goes well, I'll tack on additional miles after the race. I'm completely okay with this plan. I still get to run one of the most beautiful courses, and will be able to cheer on my other friends who are running the half and full races.
Crossing my fingers all goes well...will update tomorrow!