Saturday, October 17, 2009

Can I run 12 miles on an empty stomach?

I ask because I think I might have to try that next weekend: 12 miles without having eaten first.

This is the second week in a row that running 10 miles led to me spending some real quality time in the bathroom a few hours later, in a cold sweat.  I feel better now, but it was so bad I was actually convinced for a short time that I'd caught a serious illness--or had been poisoned. It was that bad. And much worse than what I went through last week.

I've done a little Google-research and found an article that had some do's and don'ts for running long distance if you have a sensitive stomach. (I have IBS). Looks like I've been doing all don'ts and no do's because I:
  • Ate less than an hour before running and less than an hour after the running is complete;
  • Ate heavily the night before;
  • Used performance candy (Jelly Belly Sport Beans)
  • Wore a belt tight around my waist when I ran (to hold the water) rather than looser clothes.
I'm also supposed to avoid dairy for 24 hours before a long distance run (had pizza for dinner last night, followed by frozen yogurt) and high fiber foods and vegetables (I'd say 80% of my diet is whole grains and fresh produce.)

So I have a bit of a game plan for next week. I am going to try running after a lighter dinner (but heavier lunch) the night before, changing out my fuel belt for a hand-held water bottle, and of course avoiding dairy altogether. I had an egg white and soy patty for breakfast today and wonder if the lack of carbs/too much protein could be where I'm going wrong. 

I am hesitant to cut out a pre-run breakfast altogether, though, because I do need the energy. Maybe I can have a plain piece of toasted wheat bread. I don't want an upset stomach after everytime I do a long run...but I also can't see eating nothing before or after burning around 1000 calories.

Fortunately, the run itself was great. I beat last week's time by four minutes and had fun the whole time. Now if I could just get to the point where I feel great after a long run, I'll be in good shape.

Off for another dose of Bentyl...


  1. Jorie, I found your blog from WW and love it. I am from Philadelphia as well and am a runner (currently injured and sidelined though). I also have IBS. From experience, I can't eat at all before a run. I will say though the furthest I've run is a half and I did do it on an empty stomach. I run Broad St every year that way. I know though that a marathon is different. I did find that I have to avoid anything with electrolytes (gatorade, smart water, anything!). Also when I finish a run, I just can't guzzle water (though I usually want to). I have to sip it and it has to be room temperature. I'm not sure why but the really cold water upsets my stomach. I usually eat a mix of protein and carbs afterwards but do find that I'm not hungry for about an hour after I finish a long run. It is a pain but I love running, so its worth it to me. Good luck on finding what works and of course your marathon!

  2. Lisa, thanks for letting me know how you handled IBS and long distances. Very interesting about the electrolytes--I have to say, the IBS attacks started after I began running with Powerade Zero instead of water. I figured I needed the electrolytes after going up to 10 miles, but that might be the problem. I can try running with warm water instead and see how that goes. Did you get weak during your half marathon with no food at all? That's the one thing I worry about. Anyway, thanks for the suggestion. I'll definitely try it out. Hope it stays warm enough in Philly for you to keep running outside. I am sure it is beautiful running with all those fall leaves.

  3. Jorie, the water doesn't have to be warm, just room temperature. I can't say if I had less or more energy during the half bc I've never eaten before running. If I have to run later in the day (so I've eaten a few meals) I never have a good run, so I guess it just has to be on an empty stomach for me. I wonder if you tried regular jelly beans - not the sport ones - if that would help. I know a few triathletes who just use regular jelly beans for the sugar rush. Its the same idea minus the electrolytes and caffeine. Unfortunately sugar has never bothered me :)