Last weekend I ran Bristol 10k. It was a race I’d been aiming to do well for and I’d had an easy week leading up to it. I knocked out a couple of decent park runs and a couple of 10x1k interval sessions which seemed to show that 5.36 min/mile pace would be ok to hold for the race. This meant I should be looking to finish low 35 or sub 35 minutes. Unfortunately it never felt good from the start. I felt heavy and my stomach didn’t feel good. I tried to push hard in the run but despite the effort I was putting in, I wasn’t getting anywhere with the mile splits my Garmin was beeping back. My stomach was causing me a fair bit of discomfort and I realized early on that any thoughts of sub 35 were not happening.
I rolled through in 36.25 and did my best to forget the race and enjoy a meal and beer with friends. It was beautiful sunny weather and Bristol was buzzing with the race atmosphere. A bit later I’d reflect – something had gone wrong somewhere. Was it the pasta the night before, the couple of afternoon beers in the sun. The glass of wine in the evening (I’d gone pretty easy). The cereal and teacake in the morning?…something had caused my stomach upset but I usually perform ok from a muesli breakfast and a drink or two the night before has been ok.
Roll forward a week and I’m in club la Santa which is a well know sports resort in Lanzarote. It has 3x 50m outdoor pools, a lagoon for swimming and a swim squad every afternoon. Our room overlooks a running track and guided runs go out every morning. Bikes are free to hire and the roads are pretty low traffic and smooth – the wind makes it tough but that makes you stronger. All in all, it’s the perfect place for exercise or training in most sports really.
The week has been going well but yesterday I again got a bad stomach. I pulled out the short duathlon I was going to do this morning knowing that my stomach wasn’t feeling good and it would be a struggle. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m eating too much fibre to comfortably exercise alongside.
I’m doing most training at a steady pace but you do add some bits of intensity in and this can be stressful on the stomach. I’ve been doing runs before breakfast which usually works well. However, I then get back and eat large bowls of muesli and fruit. Then I’ll have lunch and exercise again and maybe eat another bowl of muesli before a swim and then dinner. I think I’m sticking the high fibre cereals too close to exercising. The morning of the 10k I had cereal with a teacake afterwards. I would probably have got away with it but I was still quite full from the night before, I hadn’t slept too great and I ate a little too much, too close to the race. I also think in general I’m also eating too much fibre in the lead up to a race that I’m hoping to do my best in.
I’ve almost exclusively opted for whole grain breads and complex carbs which are healthier but perhaps this has been detrimental sometimes, particularly close to races – I’ve had poor performances a few times in races due to stomach issues. From today, I’ll try taking out some of the high fibre bits in my diet, particularly before any training that might have some intensity. I’m hoping this should make me feel a little better on some training sessions and mean I don’t get stomach issues on race days. If anything, switching to lower fibre a few days before a race should get me a little lighter, as the fibre tends to absorb a lot of water. Obviously staying hydrated is important but running with large water globules in your belly does not feel too great. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping that I’ll kick myself for not doing it earlier.