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Frequently Asked Questions:
Stomach Cramps, Nausea, Diarrhea

Describe the possible causes of stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. What are some things I can do to prevent these from happening to me?

Let's face it. Experiencing and/or discussing these topics aren't one of the most pleasant aspects of running! Nevertheless, stomach and digestive issues can surface from time to time, regardless of your running experience level. Prevention is the best course of action to take so that these problems won't negatively affect your training and racing.

Stomach Cramps

Stomach cramps are oftentimes related to the following factors:
  • What we eat and drink prior to, and/or during running How soon after eating and drinking we run
  • The speed of our run
Experimentation is the best way to determine which foods and drinks your system can tolerate. Generally speaking, one has to be much more careful regarding food selection when the run will be fast-paced. For example, don't eat a big lunch if you're planning on doing a fast run later in the afternoon. Instead, have small snacks throughout the day. Also avoid eating meals high in protein or fat prior to hitting the roads. Runners often develop stomach cramps by consuming sports drinks that are highly concentrated. A solution to this problem is to chase these products with a cup of water. Water should also be consumed after using a gel carbohydrate supplement to reduce the chances of developing stomach cramps.


Dehydration is the number one reason most runners experience nausea. Nausea is an important warning sign of heat injury and should be taken very seriously. To avoid what can be a life-threatening situation, stay well hydrated both before, and during the run. Additionally, be sure to eat properly so that you are well fueled during exercise. Approximately 65 percent of the total calories from a meal should come from carbohydrate sources.


Diarrhea is usually caused by consuming an overabundance of roughage in one's diet prior to running. "Offending" foods in this category include, but are not limited to: salad items, corn, cereal, etc. If you experience diarrhea during your run, think back to what you ate the previous twelve hours to identify foods that may have been high in bulk and/or roughage and eliminate these from your diet prior to running the next time out.

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