I set out for my Sunday long run at mid morning. It’s a chilly autumn day and the bite seeps into your fingers reminding you that summer is long gone and glove wearing season is nearly upon us. Autumn leaves that were once a curb side sprinkling now dominate the whole pavement. The jewel bright crunch is a padded musical background noise. Traffic hums by on Downs Cote Avenue. I hold a water bottle in my right hand that rhythmically sloshes with every foot fall – at least it’s not my stomach making that sound today.
When I ran the Bath Two Tunnels Half Marathon a couple of weeks back that was all I could hear. My stomach complaining audibly with each movement. I was intending to do the full marathon but I was feeling too unwell and quit whilst I was feeling strong at half marathon distance. I have recently been having lessons in listening to my body and not just continuing on with sheer determination if I’m not feeling great.
After the Bristol Half Marathon I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and have been getting used to new medication to help the symptoms. My doctor also trialed me on Fluoxetine for the stomach pain but I had a bad reaction and had to come off it leaving me quite ill for the earlier part of last week. A friend recommended Aloe Vera gel which I now take in tablet form to deal with the stomach pain which works for me and I now very rarely get the pain.
The way IBS effects me means I can’t normally eat much more than two thirds of a meal without feeling full for several hours afterwards – this is quite the change from someone who used to be able to consider an all you can eat buffet a walk in the park. I’ve changed my diet considerably to try and counteract the IBS. I’m down to 3 cups of caffeine a day. I’ve switched from white flour to wholewheat. I’ve cut down on sugar because I’ve found too much syrupy stuff upsets it so that means no market energy drinks and very few gels. I’ve lost 2lb in the past few weeks. My eating ability going down hasn’t stopped my ultra training but it does make me worry about energy levels. I’ve been opting for high good fat foods as much as possible to try and keep the energy levels ticking.
I fueled this 10.5 mile round run up to, around and back from Blaise Castle on nothing but crumpets for breakfast and water. Sometimes it’s good to remember that simple plain food is best. Food without all the bells and whistles. It might not be five star restaurant acceptable but it’t acceptable for your stomach. Often when running we focus on our legs and forget the rest of our body is working hard too. That includes our stomach digesting whatever we’ve eaten and turning it into fuel.
It will be a steady learning curve of keeping up the knowing when to quit with the right nutrition.