You Should be Training Your Gut
Most endurance athletes have had some GI distress during training and racing. It varies from athlete to athlete and is much more common for runners. GI distress or exercise induced gastrointestinal symptoms include both upper and lower gastrointestinal issues, and can substantially decrease your performance. It is much more likely to occur during high intensity efforts, high heat and dehydration.
The good news is that your GI system is highly adaptable and trainable. Yes, your regime should include gut training.
Some good guidelines to get your GI track to absorb more carbohydrate and fluids without upset and result in better performance.
* Regularly consume your race morning breakfast before long training sessions. At least 2 hours before your session consume 60 - 65g Carbohydrate, triple it if its 3 hours. You can also try small amounts of low fat protein. Sip on sports drink (Gatorade) pre exercise for the sodium and extra hydration. This is all highly subjective and modifiable.
* Train, when possible, in the same conditions (hot & humid) as your expected race conditions.
* Know your sweat rate per hour, (this time of year may not be ideal for sweat rate testing). Try to consume around that amount per hour during all sessions lasting an hour or longer, however max absorption is usually at 32 - 40oz per hour.
* Pre-hydrate leading up to big events.
* Consume around 60 - 90g carbohydrate per hour of all sessions longer than 1 hour. If you can't handle that much, start with just 30g and work up. Experiment now, so that you have nutrition nailed down by race day.
* Consume 15 - 20 mg sodium per fl oz per hour. That will be 360 - 480 mg per 24 oz bike bottle.
Some athletes use Gatorade, but it does not have enough carbohydrate or sodium for sessions over 3 hours, and the Osmolality is not ideal. Some athletes use multiple sources for carbohydrate, sodium, and fluid and in the process over complicate their race strategy. For sessions lasting more than 3 hours, Infinit Go Far would meet all these requirements and is a good place to start.
* To decrease risk of GI distress, avoid NSAIDS leading up to and during big events.
* Reduce fiber intake leading up to and during races and long training sessions.
Ricardo Costa, the senior author of a study on GI training has written a guide to managing GI symptoms in ultra-endurance sports, which is available on the Ultrasportsscience.us website. Costa concludes:
* There is no substantial evidence to support the acute or chronic consumption of dietary supplements to reduce exercise-induced GIS, and subsequent symptoms.
* To date, there is no evidence to support the acute and longer-term consumption of probiotics to reduce exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome, and subsequent symptoms.
* To date, there is no evidence to support adherence of a gluten free diet in non-celiac runners to reduce exercise-induced GIS, and subsequent symptoms; unless specified by a health practitioner in response to a positive diagnosis of intolerance.
FTR Coach, Ironman Certified Coach & NASM Personal Trainer