Q I’m training for my fifth marathon and while my runs have largely gone well strength and target pace wise, I’ve recently noticed that I’m covered in salt streaks afterwards, have an upset stomach and feel, for lack of a better word, hungover, the remainder of the day. I typically eat a banana before runs and consume dates and a granola bar every hour or so during runs, but don’t bring any fuel aside from water for runs less than 21 kilometres. What I can change in my diet or fuel routine to combat this?
A It sounds like you are running out of gas and that your energy supply going into the run may not be adequate to support your physical effort. It might be helpful for you to keep a diet diary for a couple of weeks to gauge your total kilojoule intake against your kilojoule expenditure across the same time period. If the long runs are putting you over the top in energy expenditure, it could explain your training fatigue.
You mention that you have salt streaks after your long runs, which makes me think you are sweating a lot on your runs and maybe you are losing more than average amounts of salt on your long runs. Your upset stomach could be from the run or it could be from taking in too much during the run, either foods or fluids. If there is fluid sloshing about in your stomach, you may be drinking too much. Hourly intake during runs seems like a lot to me and maybe you could cut back on that to see if you feel better at the end of your long runs.
What recommendations do I have? I am not sure that I have your full story with regard to your health and nutritional status, so it is difficult to give a grounded recommendation. That said, I would make sure you are taking in enough kilojoules to support your health day-to-day and to start your long run with a full kilojoule tank, make sure you are not taking in too much fluid during your runs and disrupting your sodium balance with overhydration, and finally, try to replace kilojoules immediately after your run rather than during the run. I like 1% or skim chocolate milk as a recovery drink and that may give you some spark for the rest of the day.
If this fails, you should consider meeting with your personal physician to discuss your running-related fatigue.
– WILLIAM O. ROBERTS, M.D.