Thursday, November 10, 2005

Another secret PSA

I'll let you in on another secret for "going long" successfully, that many people don't talk about, but that can be incredibly important for a good race - or at least, avoiding a very bad race. Imodium. It's a Godsend, and one of my essentials for marathons. Yep, every marathon, and any half marathon or triathlon where I'm going for time.

You see, many of us have a funny reaction to working hard in the heat for long periods of time. For whatever reason, fluids start to accumulate in our lower gastrointestinal tract. The results after 2 to 3 hours of this activity are uncomfortable, crampy, distressing, potentially dehydrating, and wreak havoc with your finishing time. (If you have never experienced this issue while running for a long time in the heat, well, just skip this whole post and forget that I said anything. Some people don't get this. You'll know it when it happens.)

Remember that hydration, sodium replenishment, refueling, and managing our digestive tract issues may be even more important for us slower athletes who are out there on the course a long time. Many of the really fast people are off the course and eating post-race goodies long before they experience the problems that many of us slower folks experience. Those fast folks are often the ones that turn into coaches, too, so they often don't know anything about managing the problems of people who are out on the course for hours and hours and hours, and often don't advise them well on these aspects of successful completion of the event.

The Imodium label warning says: "2 caplets (with 4-8oz of water) after the first loose stool; 1 caplet (with 4-8oz of water) after each subsequent loose stool; but no more than 4 caplets in 24 hours".

Well, I'm not going to tell anyone not to follow the label directions to the letter. But I'll tell you what I do. I know I'm doing to have very very loose stool without them, so I just take them pre-emptively. I do this, for events lasting 2-3 hours or more: Two caplets as soon as I wake up, first thing in the morning (which is sometime between 4AM and 6AM for big races). Two more caplets as close to the start as I can take them (usually some time between 7AM and 8AM).

That totally solves the problem for me. Less dosage than that doesn't do the trick, and earlier/later doesn't seem to work well either. I haven't experienced any adverse reactions from this regimen, except possibly some abdominal cramping when I stopped running. And no, it doesn't turn everything to concrete. Just so you know. :-) It also means I don't have to be quite as particular and superstitious about what I eat the day before the big event, because I don't have the digestive problems that I once attributed to bad pre-race foods.

I'd tell you from whom I learned this regimen, but I'll just let her chime in herself.

8 comments:

Mica said...

That's great - I would have never thought of this. I'm sure I'll be using this for my half-marathon in February.

Downhillnut said...

Oh yes, this WORKS! I practiced with it in training and it worked very well for my Half last July. I did have a mild problem after one of my long runs once, so I do recommend continuing to drink LOTS of water the next few days after using it, and eating fibre-rich food after the race.

Sure beats the panicky portapotty hunt during a race.

Steven said...

I love coming to your blog and getting this kind of information. Keep it coming!
Later.

trifit said...

Thanks for this infor - I am still figuring out what works for me.

I had killer stomach cramps during my race. I'm still not sure if it was GI issues, sodium depletion (never tried those salt pills), or just a really bad side stitch from breathing funny. Or maybe I just had to much water and gatorade sloshing around.

Dawn - Pink Chick said...

I have what I call a nervous tummy so I definitely appreciate this tip. I just wish this stuff was cheaper.

Flo said...

Wow!! What a great tip. I've never had this problem before but during this year's training it's beginning to rear it's ugly head. I would never have thought of this in a million years. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you..........

Mia said...

I will so be using this little tip! I had previously thought about it, but never heard from anyone who had actually used it before and so I've been a little hesitant to try. Thanks for the info.

jeanne said...

live and learn!