Post-Race Vomiting

Q At the end of a race, the finish line is in sight, and I want to get in under a certain time, and I know I have it in me – so I run my little heart out, only to vomit immediately after, which is embarrassing and awful (especially when I didn’t even get in under the time in question!). I have been told its because I have exceeded my lactic acid threshold. Is that bad for me? How can I improve my lactic acid threshold? Should I? Once or twice I have been able to stave off vomiting with deep breathing, but lately, I have opted not to go all out in the end. – ANNIE


A I remember several hockey practices when I hung over the boards and vomited after doing wind sprints. These were usually early morning practices and I am not sure that I ate well before the sessions. My coach called it “tossing your cookies” and I think considered it a marker of pushing us to our limit. I participated in track and cross country workouts doing interval work designed to flirt with the lactic threshold; I do not recall vomiting during those sessions, but I know I felt like it.

Assuming you have no medical issues and you do not have oesophageal reflux, the decision to push at the end of the race will come down to you. I am not sure that lactic threshold is truly the culprit for you, but if it is, you will have to make a decision. Push and vomit, back off and avoid the scene, or try altering your training to improve your lactic threshold to see if that will reduce your urge to purge and propensity to vomit at the end of the race. Pushing into the lactate threshold is done by running short distances at race or greater than race pace usually done at intervals that allow a brief recovery time and then back to the next running bout.

If you are running for fun and fitness, relaxing your final kick will likely do the trick. You will not face the embarrassment of throwing up and you will likely feel better. If you are running to win or for prize money, you will need to train hard and this may also solve your problem. I do not think vomiting post finish will cause you long term harm. Working at or just over the lactate threshold for short periods of time will not cause long-term ill effects for you either. – BILL

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