Last Updated: May 5th, 2020
How To Prevent Throwing Up When Running?
Throwing up during a race can be devastating for your performance.
Don’t be sad because 45% of runners face this very same problem.
For some, the symptoms are so severe that they have to abandon the race in between.
Knowing what causes your stomach to revolt, will help you to reduce or bypass it altogether.
What Causes Nausea during running?
Well, there can be a lot of reasons why you vomit during a run.
Some are physiological, some are psychological.
We will examine one by one and find out a way to prevent it.
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1. Anxiety Induced Nausea
Running a big race or any race for that matter, puts a lot of pressure on you.
It can be caused by others’ expectations, your own expectations.
You take too much stress thinking about the things you cannot control.
Such a performance anxiety makes you more than likely to spill your gut.
What happens when you get anxious?
When you get anxious, your body releases adrenaline.
This adrenaline disrupts the blood flow to your stomach and intestine and send it to the heart, brain and skeletal muscles.
Without proper blood flow, the food in your stomach cannot move through the digestive system.
Also, this causes stress to your stomach muscles leading to tension which may squeeze the stomach and result in vomiting.
How to prevent it?
This is easier said than done. But if you focus on working on this, you will be able to prevent this problem.
Change your focus
Rather than thinking about what you cannot control, focus your mind on what you can control.
This is an effective technique to reduce stress. Focus on things like warm-up, pre-race meal.
As was suggest by Jeff Gaudette of Runners Connect you should develop a running ritual.
You should perform this ritual during your practice runs, months or weeks before your race day.
On the race day repeat this exact same ritual before the race.
This will ease you into your comfort zone since you will be in a familiar territory.
This will reduce your stress and will keep your mind calm.
Hence you will be able to bypass that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach.
Also, don’t experiment with anything new on your race day.
This is one of the biggest mistakes that many runners are guilty of.
Watch Your Pre-Run Meal
To Avoid throwing up during your race you need to take care of your meals.
Also, this is not just on the day of the race but it should start couple of days prior to your race.
Reduce intake of high fibre foods like fruits and vegetables. Switch to a low-fiber diet instead.
This you should start two to three days before your race day
Get yourself tested for allergies. You may not know it but you may have certain food allergies.
If you have mild allergies with certain kind of foods, they can cause you major distress during running
Also switching to a liquid meal as a pre-race meal will cause your stomach to revolt less.
They passes through your system easily unlike any solid food.
Try some meal replacement shakes like Boost or Ensure. They have near perfect nutrition profile.
The only downside is that, they are less filling than your solid foods and can leave you feeling hungry in the middle of a marathon.
Also, avoid NSAID like Advil and Ibuprofen. They are linked to causing vomiting during endurance exercises.
Ideal Meals The Night Before
This is as important as your pre-run breakfast.
In running you need a lot of energy and your carb intake the night before will either make or break you in the race.
Have something that is easily digestible so that you don’t get up in the morning with a stomach upset.
This in-turn will lead to vomiting.
Here are some ideas by SELF for you try out as your night before meal.
- A turkey or salmon burger on a bun with green beans and a white potato.
- A palm-sized portion of grilled fish or chicken—which tend to digest easier than steak or pork—with rice, zucchini, and a sweet potato.
- A turkey sandwich or sub on a white roll with veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado.
- Sushi rolls—about three, depending on the size—with white rice, lean fish, avocado, and plain veggies like cucumbers (steer clear of higher-fat fillings like cream cheese and tempura).
- Homemade stir-fry with lean chicken, fish, or tofu and veggies, over white rice. Go light on the oil and avoid cruciferous veggies like broccoli and bok choy.
- Pizza can work, if you go light on the cheese and skip greasy sausage or pepperoni—think a couple slices of a Margherita pie, with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.
- Pancakes with a side of egg whites (Rudser-Rusin’s go-to from her days racing marathons and Ironman triathlons).
2. The Way Your Blood Flows Can Make You Spill
When you run, the muscles propelling you forward needs more oxygen.
So, your body decides to provide them with more and hold the oxygen supply from your digestive system.
Because, in running you digestive system doesn’t have much of active contribution as your skeletal muscles.
This situation is aggravated during summer when you skin also is provided with more oxygen for cooling in the hot weather.
Due to lack of blood supply, your digestive system shuts down and ultimately throws up.
How to Prevent it?
You cannot prevent the way your body changes its blood supply. This is a process that we have inherited from evolution.
Instead, what you can do is to take some preventive measures so that your stomach stays in peace.
Water and Gel, Gels Well – When you are taking any kinds of gel or other simple sugar products, take it with water.
In absence of water, your digestive system will have to work extra hard to break down those carbohydrates.
Also, don’t consume sugary gels and aerated drinks together. You will give your stomach an extra hard time digesting them.
Avoid Candy Syndrome – Don’t consume too much of gels too fast. Your body needs time to absorb it.
Until it is absorbed, it will stay in the bloodstream and if the level of sugar in your blood, it will make you sick.
This is the same thing that happens if you eat too many candies too quickly. You eventually throw up.
Getting Electrocuted – Staying hydrated is an essential step in running. Many of the resolve to electrolytes.
However, they are high in sodium and potassium. If taken too much they will cause bloating in an already stressed stomach.
And the result? You stomach will find its release through your throat and mouth.
Meds Can Help – If you have a stomach that cringes at the sight of running, take some medicines beforehand.
Avomine or something of that sort helps. Consult your doctor for an advice in this matter.
3. Sudden Shift In Pace Can Make You Vomit
After the race you might be brimming with joy. However, your stomach may not be in a mood to participate.
Post run nausea may not affect your performance, but it is not good for your general health.
The content of your stomach is acidic and it will damage your esophagus lining while travelling up.
How To Prevent It?
This kind of vomiting is caused by sudden change of pace.
Once you reach the finish line, you want to take a break. You may sit down or just stand in a place.
But your vital organs like heart, lungs who were helping you to run may not be ready for this sudden change.
Also, your stomach might still be contracting due to all the stress it went through during running.
This can make you very sick. There is only one way to prevent it. You have to gradually cool down.
Allow your body to get adjusted to the gradual decrease in pace.
Don’t suddenly sit or halt.
Following these precautions will help you to prevent from spilling your gut out after running.
Vomiting is an uncomfortable situation to be in. It is not only a physical distress, it can weigh you down emotionally ue to embrassment.
However, with these simple tweaks, you can prevent it from happening and be a more confident runner.
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