Digestion Problems During Morning Run

by Mark

I am training for a marathon. What food should I eat the night before I go for a long run the next morning, so I don't get stomach cramps after a couple of miles.
I generally eat pasta/potatoes the evening before.
What can I do?

Answer by Dominique:

Thanks for your running question.
Running in the morning can be quite tough on the body system. In fact, not just in the morning. Many runners suffer from what we call "runner's trots" or a bit neater, the need to defecate while running...

There are multiple theories about why this happens to runners, although no conclusive answer is yet known. The theories about your digestion problem are:

  • A high-fibre diet (many fruits and vegetables are high in fibre).

  • Running causes enough movements for the colon up and down and sideways to get stimulated.

  • Exercise/Running abruptly lowers the amount of blood going to the digestive system - this "shakes things up" causing stomach issues.

  • The last theory has been studied extensively and results of studies seem to point out that this is a valid reason why runners suffer from "the trots". When runners get dehydrated and the blood circulation to the digestive system goes down, this "shake-up" happens dramatically more often.

    So... on to possible remedies:

  • Take a good look at your diet and see if you can make subtle changes. Of course you want to keep on eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, but possibly avoid eating these late at night when you know you are running the next morning.

  • Have a good drink of water (e.g. 10-12 ounces) before you start your morning run to avoid dehydration and then drink 3-4 ounces every 15-20 minutes. Drinking lots of water may cause a problem with "number ones" though...

  • There are some over-the-counter medicines which can help, but this should be a last resort. You do not want to poison your body with chemicals if it is not absolutely necessary.

  • Keep a running log of what you eat and of the symptoms during the run. Maybe you can pick certain foods or food combinations that work well or do not work well with you.

  • I hope this helps a bit.
    Good luck with this issue and with your marathon training.

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