from APEX Coaching
Avoiding gastric distress: Gastrointestinal Distress: is most commonly defined as a reduction in gastrointestinal blood flow (circulation) due to a buildup of lactic acid in the blood. This buildup of lactic acid results in the inability of the digestive system to effectively breakdown and process food, absorb nutrients to be used as fuel and clear the bowel. Peristalsis (The wave like muscle contractions in the intestine that help clear the bowel) is greatly compromised during gastric distress and can even cease until blood lactic levels return to normal. The onset of Gastric Distress differs for every athlete and this is why it is important to practice your nutrition in training and not on race day. In general, most athletes will start to develop GI distress at 120 -180 minutes into race pace training or racing. Symptoms include: nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps and pains, bloating and burping. Almost all endurance athletes will experience gastric distress and women are more likely than men to experience GI distress.
Upper GI distress manifests as heartburn, vomiting, belching, bloating, nausea and/or stomach pain, inability to eat or keep down food
Lower GI distress includes cramping, gas, urgency and diarrhea, vomiting
As endurance athletes we tend to be a “picky” bunch. We spend hours picking out the perfect bike, getting the perfect aero position, devote time to finding just the right chamois for all those hours in the saddle for training, and let’s not forget time spent analyzing and comparing all that training data. We leave no stone unturned when it comes to our equipment and what works best for us, and yet, we will devote more time to filling our water bottles than we will to developing a solid nutrition plan and strategy for training and race day. Your nutrition can be the single source to win or lose your long course event. Proper fueling is not an accident it must be tried and tested before race day to make your body work best for you. Let’s chat a little about what you can do to ensure a happy gut on race day.
How does Gastric Distress affect my training/ racing?
Most athletes have found themselves out on a training run or ride searching for a corner store to buy a Coke or begging a gel or bar off a training buddy deep in the fog of bonking or cramping and it was a very long ride or run home. As we all know, the training post a “bonk” is pretty much useless and leaves you pretty sore and tired afterwards. The fundamental goal for fueling as an endurance athlete is that we want to maintain the most consistent blood sugar levels as possible for maximum use of the muscles, circulation and power output. This principle is also used in avoiding gastric distress. As we train the body builds up lactic acid in the muscles and we are in a race against time to fuel our body with electrolytes and carbohydrates before our GI system shuts down due to lack of blood flow as the body continues to buildup lactic acid. Most of your solid foods should be consumed in the first 120 minutes of a prolonged race or during training. This fueling should include carbohydrates and electrolytes for the body to use as long term fuel during the event. Continued fueling past this point should include soft foods such as chews, gels and liquids
When training practice what and when you will be eating. Don’t forget pre-race nutrition starting the week before your goal event. Glycogen stores, hydration and even the amount of sleep you get all impact your body many days out from your goal event.
Original posting HERE
Written By Simon Bennet
Simon Bennett is an elite road, track and multisport coach for APEX Coaching. As an Australian Level 1 Triathlon Coach and Silver Level Swimming Coach he had several of his athletes selected to compete at the Australian National Triathlon Championships, ITU Elite races and Swimming National Championships. Simon was a podium endurance coach for British Cycling during the last Olympic cycle with 6 of his athletes winning gold medals in Rio on the road and track. For more information on Simon, click HERE.