You've done everything right. Trained hard. Sacrificed all your free time for this race.
And not even halfway you get cramps, in your stomach and intestines. Doom scenarios of Paula Radcliffe during the London Marathon flash through your head... (Google this if you don't know what we're talking about)
How can you avoid this?
"Cramps" can be divided into 2 main categories: abdomen and intestines.
Each category has its own symptoms:
- Stomach cramps
- Acid reflux
Anyway, these symptoms make a race extraordinarily unpleasant – both physically and mentally.
There's a reason why stomach and intestinal complaints the biggest complaint of triathletes.
What can you do to avoid this?
- Train like you race
Too many triathletes are doing something new on their racing day. Don't do that and train as you race. Your bowels learn to cope with higher amounts of carbohydrates during efforts. So, during your workouts, try to absorb between 30 and 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour, depending on the duration of your effort. Change on racing day also not suddenly of Brand: maybe you can tolerate that less well.
- Eat little fiber the days before
Fibers that remain in your intestines can cause diarrhea. So concentrate the last 3 days on low-fiber foods such as white bread, white pasta, bananas, melon,... You can also get a part of your carbs from our Carbo Loader.
- Hydrate and ensure sufficient salt
Dehydration reduces stomach emptying, and glucose needs salt to be absorbed into the intestines. Therefore, be sure to drink enough Isotonic, a drink that hydrates you optimally and also contains salt.
This is also the reason why our gels contain salt: this is necessary for optimal digestion.
- Divide your carbohydrates over different sources.
Glucose and fructose use different transport mechanisms in the body. Combining these reduces the chance of having undigested carbohydrates in the intestines that cause diarrhea.
- Avoid anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin for the race.
This medication damages the intestinal lining and increases the likelihood of complaints.
- Drink enough in one time
A larger amount of fluids increases the stomach emptying. It is therefore better to drink a decent amount less often, than to continuously sip small quantities.
Therefore we recommend 125 ml per 15 minutes.
- Beware of Supplements
Caffeine in large quantities, red beet juice, sodium bicarbonate,.. All known to be able to cause complaints. Therefore, never take a supplement on racing day that you have not tested extensively during your training sessions.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners
Sucralose, aspartame, xylitol,...: They all have an impact on your intestinal system. Did you know that the laxative effect of xylitol is so great that it is sometimes used in medication for constipation? Avoid these sweeteners as much as possible, and make sure your sports nutrition does not contain this.
Cramps are not always preventable, but with these 8 tips you will come a long way!