Sunday, October 5, 2008

My poor old stomach

Every time I run an ultra, no matter the distance, I always end up sick during the last quarter of the race. It doesn't matter if its a 50K, 50-miler or (my one and only unsuccessful) 100-miler. The symptoms are almost always the same. Low grade nausea, leading to more acute nausea and then to real pain in the lower part of my intestine. Transitioning from walking uphill, which soothes the system, to running downhill, which pounds every interior organ I own, is excruciating. I never actually throw up -- I'd probably feel better if I did -- but the whole business is horribly unpleasant. I honestly don't know what keeps me coming back for more.

Anyhoo, I posted a question about Stomach Upset on the Yahoo Ultra running Group and I got a couple of informative responses. Ultrasteve said that he gets nauseous when he runs at a pace faster than his training has prepared him for. This makes sense to me. I think I may be upping my pace (subconsciously or not) as soon as I hit the half way point. I conserve energy all through the first half of the race, and then start running more of the uphills and pushing the pace all through the second half. And hence the belly trouble. I have a couple of races coming up in a few weeks (50K and 50-miler), so I am going to make a concerted effort to keep an even, comfortable pace from start to finish. Easier said than done, no doubt.

Peter from Vespa wrote to ask about my typical daily diet. His thought is that I am taking in way too many carbohydrates and not enough protein and fat. I have always been a carbo junkie. The Atkins dies flew right by me, as did all of the other no-carb alternatives that thinned-up so many of my friends about 5 years ago. (All of them have regained the weight, I might add, in the the intervening years.)

Peter ascribes to a version of the Paleo diet. I checked The Paleo Diet book out of the library and found the menu to be way too restrictive for me, especially since I must feed four growing people besides myself at every meal. Paleo is grain-free, wheat-free (obviously), dairy-free, sugar-free. Which basically leaves you with lean meat, fish, nuts, fruits and vegetables. The whole thing reminds me of a book I read earlier this year called Into the Forest: 2 teenage sisters survive in a post-apocalyptic world by eating acorn mush, wild berries and the odd shot rodent.

Just give me my Ben and Jerry's from time to time, for chrissake! This is the freaking 21st century.

I have decided to try a wheat-free and dairy-restricted diet for the next month and see if it makes any difference in my stomach's behavior at my next two races. And I will cut back on the carbs. Eat more nuts for snacks. Nuts and raisins. And I'll grow my hair down to my butt and paint my nails camo-pink.

I ordered Paleo for Athletes and the Maffetone Method (Ultrasteve's guy) from Amazon. The library does not stock these particular books. Shocking. Not enough ultra-running, hunter-gatherer types around here to justify the shelf space I guess. And I'll try the Vespa. Hell, I'll try anything.

We'll see where it all goes.

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