Racer X Virtual Trainer

Stomach problems - Please help!!
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Author:  boxx620 [ Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:40 am ]
Post subject:  Stomach problems - Please help!!

Tim asked me to post this here to try to get some more help. I typed this info up to send to a few specialists out of desperation. I know there is a lot of info here, but if you can give any help at all, I would be more than grateful!!! (Note, I am sending this to some people who don’t know what MX or harescrambles are, hence some of the explanations.)

For nearly 2 years now, I’ve been racing harescrambles (endurance dirt bike racing in the woods for those who don’t know) and I’ve had a problem with getting sick and desperately need any advice you can offer. The race is generally about 2hr30min +/-30min. When the race is over, I don’t feel too bad, but about 30 min later, I start with a small cough, get the sweats, the feeling of a bowel movement, shaky, and extremely nauseous. I usually don’t vomit at that time. I just sit and wait it out. After about 15min it seems to ease up and I think I’m in the clear. Then about 15-20min later, it starts all over. This time I usually vomit profusely. Sometimes 10+ times. I have tried so many different things and I don’t know what else to do. For about the first 5-6 races I competed in I didn’t have this problem. Then after that it started happening and becoming more common. Now it is nearly every time I race no matter the weather, conditions, or things I’ve tried (see below). The courses we race on are usually 10-12 mile loops through the woods and to say the trails get extremely rough would be an understatement. My endurance is usually pretty good for about 1hr30min, then I start to fade, sometimes worse than others.

About me: I am 6’2”tall, 188lbs and have no known illnesses, sicknesses, or disease. Prior to March 2011, I considered myself in alright shape (other than using smokeless tobacco which I QUIT on July 1st and haven’t used since), just not good enough for endurance racing. From March 2011 thru May 2011, I was on a online training program with a personal trainer, but the service shut down and I didn’t continue the routines. In June 2011, I bought a road bicycle and started cycling a lot. I would cycle 20-50 miles (approx avg 30 miles) each time I rode about 2-3 times a week until our first born came the end of July, then I didn’t get much chance to cycle much after that. I have now been exercising (with the help of online trainers and programs) 1-2hrs a day, 6-7 days a week for 10 weeks now. I think thats enough info to start, but let me know if you need more info.

Things I have tried and/or done:
-Drinking 16-20oz of plain water per hour during competition from a Camelback.
-Drinking 4-5oz of Cytomax every 15min from Camelback.
-Drinking 4-5oz of Hammer Heed every 15-20min from Camelback.
-Drinking 4-5oz of Hammer Sustained Energy every 15-20min from Camelback.
All the above caused a lot of “sloshing” in my stomach and actually made it worse. Every bump or rock on the course became really painful and it feels like all my guts are slamming into each other hurting. And after the race I would vomit ALL of it back up.

After quite a few races, the most successful thing I found to cure the sloshing and pain DURING the race (but not the vomiting after the race) was to not drink a SINGLE drop of anything during the entire 2+hrs. That is TOUGH. The first time I tried this method (Oct 30, 2011), I came off course, ate half of a ham sandwich slowly, some nuts, and slowly sipped on water. I felt a little quesy but I didn’t get sick that day. The next time I tried this (Jan 29, 2012), I got extremely sick and vomited, so that wasn’t the cure. When I don’t drink close to the race time, or during the race, I don’t get the sloshing pain, but I still get sick about 30 min after the race. My reason for trying no drinking was that I learned that the digestive systems slows down during exercise, some people more than others, but I think possibly mine completely stops.
After the last race (Jan29), when I started getting nauseous, a friend gave me some 7up. I slowly drank half the can, and felt a lot better. About 20-30min later, I started feeling sick again. Drank the other half and felt better. Then 20-30min later, on the drive home, BLAAAAHHHH. Then felt better. Then 20-30min later started feeling a little nauseous, not as bad as before, bought some more 7up, felt better and was able to get some food down. Then I was fine. Was it the carbonation (like when you’re sick and drink it), or maybe the sugar?

-I quit using smokeless tobacco in July 2011 and it made no difference in my stomach problems.
-I eat cereal for breakfast 7 days a week. Usually Special K or Fruit Harvest with 2% milk. On a regular day, I only drink a little of the milk, and on race day I don’t drink any, just in case. So I tried using Almond milk in my cereal for a few days leading up to the race and on race day. Still got sick.
-I eat breakfast 3-4 hrs before the race start. I have a small snack 1.5-2hrs before race, usually a granola bar, Kashi bar, bananna, some trail mix, or some type of nuts (only one of these listed). Still sick.
-I’ve tried drinking no more than 20oz from the time I get up (6am) until race time (11am). Still sick.
-The only thing I drink for the last 9 years is water. Maybe once a month I’ll drink a little Sprite or 7up. No alcohol in 2+ years. Never any caffeine. For the last year especially, I drink 1 gallon a day, and during hotter months about 1.5 gallons a day. During all my cycling I drink Cytomax and sometimes Hammer Heed. During cycling I alternate bottles, one with water, and one with Cytomax or Heed. 20oz total per hour always.
-I have tried using GU energy gel packets, Hammer gel packets during a race. I’ve tried at about 1 hr before I start to fade, and I’ve tried at 1.5hr+ when I have already started to fade. Still sick. (I use gels during cycling with no problems, 1-2 packets per hour).
-I have tried slowly drinking Hammer Recoverite after a race, and it tastes horrible coming back up.
-I’ve tried warming up by cycling for 10-15min before race start then stretching.
-I’ve tried not warming up.
-I’ve tried walking around after a race.
-I’ve tried sitting down and holding perfectly still after a race for 30 min.
-I’ve tried Gas-X the day before and the day of a race.
-I’ve tried drinking Pepto as soon as the race is over followed by small sips of water.
-I use Hammer Endurolytes (both for HS and cycling) before race.

My nutrition has changed considerably (for the better) from 2 races ago (Oct30) until the last race (Jan29), yet I still got sick. Typical day, I eat cereal for breakfast, yogurt and banana for mid morning snack, a Weight Watchers Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine frozen lunch, an apple for afternoon snack, some nuts when I get home, and the wife cooks a halfway healthy dinner. Never any fast food. I take a multivitamin every morning for the last 10-12 years.

Since the 7up helped me feel better, I bought some Gingerale. I think after my next race (Feb12) as soon as I come off course, I am going to sip on some Gingerale and water. ??? Maybe drink some Muscle Milk to start getting something in my system??

Notes on things I’ve noticed:
-Seems like the rougher the course is, the sicker I get.
-Seems like the faster I go (and the better I finish), the sicker I get.
-I’ve never had this happen during any type of racing I’ve done (including 11 years of motocross), so I don’t think its nerves?

I’m so sorry if all this seems kinda of jumbled up. I had it more organized in my mind, but once I started going through all my notes and typing this, it became unorganized.

Any help you could offer would be SOOO greatly appreciated!!!

Author:  Coach Robb [ Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Stomach problems - Please help!!

Thank you for the time you have put into your describing your situation! A couple of things to take a look at immediately:
1. What is your max heart rate on the motorcycle?
2. What is your average heart rate during a typical race?
3. Can you shoot me over a complete five day food log (what you consume, how much, when you ate, energy levels 30 minutes later) to robb3@earthlink.net?
4. What concentration rate are you mixing your various sports drinks?

If you can answer these questions here on RacerX VT, I will review them and provide you my feedback. To help comfort your concerns, I have worked with athletes with similar symptoms and will discuss our strategy here on this message board together so others fighting this situation can learn and eliminate their situation(s).

Yours in sport,
-Robb Beams/MotoE

Author:  Virtual Trainer [ Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Stomach problems - Please help!!

I agree with Robb's advice above but, man I read your post two times and do not see anything glaring. And the problem is, what you are describing is not anywhere a normal reaction to racing. Possibly in the extreme heat or if you were absolutely missing the boat on food or hydration but that does not appear to be the case. I would highly advise seeing your family doc and then possibly a gastrointestinal specialist. Let the Docs take a look and see if they can come up with anything. Follow Robb's advice but make sure you see a doctor as well.

Author:  boxx620 [ Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Stomach problems - Please help!!

Rob, I am going to get you my food log SOON. Been on my list of to do's for a while now. I wanted to post an update, as I've had a friend of mine who is also a personal trainer and nutritionist give me some advice as well. Sorry if once again, this is long, but I'm trying to be thorough. Plus its a little easier to copy and paste emails. THANK YOU ALL AGAIN!!

Here was her email:

Ok--I am still sending this out to others, but what I want you to try is--as soon as you're done the race, lie down on the grass/ground with your feet elevated for about 10-15 minutes. Then SLOWLY get up and sip on some gingerale or 7up or gatorade. I prefer gatorade because it has electrolytes and glucose (sugar) so I think that might help--but really just small, slow sips. Stay seated or even lying down at this time.

My theory-with racing, your muscles are more tense and working so much harder than during your practice runs. After you stop racing, the blood starts to pool in your feet and your body reacts by feeling queasy because your brain needs that blood to function. It's your body's way of telling you to lie down.

There could be a few different things--low blood sugar and low blood plasma (which is caused by dehydration). But letting the blood slowly circulate back up to your heart/brain should make you feel instantly better. Sipping very very slowly on sugar or gatorade will also help.

Then when you eat, try something like Ensure or Boost that might be digested easier than solid foods right away. Especially if your blood sugar has dropped so much. Also, since your blood is all in your muscles and legs, it's not near your stomach, so eating anything solid after a race is not easy-obviously. there isn't enough blood in the stomach area to start the digestion process. Nuts are really tough for digestion, too--try a few easier to digest forms of protein if you can? The almond milk is a great idea for recovery, too, if you can sip on that and enjoy it.

I saw this a lot in the gyms. When you're finished exercising and feel queasy, it's usually blood sugar and the blood that was flowing through your muscles is drawn down to your feet through gravity. Raising your legs will help that immediately. Exercise causes a pumping action in your leg muscles that helps push the blood back up. As soon as you stop, the muscles aren't pushing much, so the blood flow is being pulled down and away from your brain/heart.

I wanted to run my “plan” past you for tomorrow:
2/12/12 RACEDAY
-Test glucose before eating
-Breakfast 6am - Special K blueberry with organic granola
-Snack 9am - Emerald Breakfast on the go nuts
-Sip 20oz water until race time
-15min before race - test glucose
-10min before race - 1 GU Packet
-10-15oz of water only in camelback (just in case and for rinsing mud out of mouth)

-Get in trailer, immediately take boots off (or change into clothes), lay on bed with feet elevated 10-15min - NO DRINKING during this time. Test glucose.
-After 10-15 min, slowly sit up and start sipping on Cytomax and Gingerale (alternating). Lay back down if necessary.
-30min after race, sip on 12oz Muscle Milk.
-45min after race, if feeling ok, slowly eat ham sandwich

Also, I have been using GU during all of my cycling since June of last year, and I’ve never had any problems with it when cycling. I also always use 1 bottle of Cytomax and 1 bottle of straight water when cycling (alternating each drink) with good results. I will not use either DURING the race this weekend, but I figure using 1 GU before and sipping Cytomax after (in place of Gatorade) would be ok?
I got a glucose tester today, so now I can get a better idea of if that is the problem.

If you have a chance tonight, let me know if I need to make any adjustments to my plan. Thanks again for your help!!


I managed 3rd place out of 22 in my class. Not too bad, but not quite what I was looking for. 15min before the race, I ate a GU packet. I did take 3-4 VERY small sips (maybe 1oz each) of water during the race and was ok. My last lap, approx 1hr50min into the race, I completely ran out of energy, so the last lap was extremely tough. I got side stitches pretty bad during that lap and all the bouncing and hitting roots made it much worse. I kept focusing on deep belly breathing, but it was no help.

I followed my plan pretty close. Glucose Sat night 15min after dinner was 142. Glucose after 8hr fasting, just before breakfast, was 110. I didn’t get to test just before the race. Just after the race, I took my boots off, layed down for 20 min, tested my glucose during that time and it was 107. For the first 30 min after the race, I sipped on a total of about 6oz of gingerale only. I didn’t get any water or Cytomax. When I got up to change clothes after the 20min of resting with legs up, I did get just a little bit of a strange feeling, so as soon as I changed, I layed back down. 1hr after the race, I started sipping on some Muscle Milk. I was completely fine at this point with not a hint of getting sick. About 2-1/2 hr after the race we stopped at a ice cream place and got a burger and a shake. I DIDN’T GET SICK!!! So even though I didn’t get 1st place, I think we were victorious in another way!! My next race is Feb 26 near Birmingham, AL and I plan on following pretty much the same plan after the race. Wondering if my problem is a combination of the blood pooling in the legs and me trying to drink too much after the race.
Well, I just wanted to give you an update. We’ll see how the next race goes before we jump to any conclusions, but I think we’re definitely onto something. Hope you are well!!

Author:  boxx620 [ Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Stomach problems - Please help!!

Rob, I just emailed you my food log. Thanks!!!

Author:  Coach Robb [ Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stomach problems - Please help!!

Please re-send, I can't find the email anywhere. BTW - how did you race go this past weekend?
-Robb Beams/MotoE

Author:  boxx620 [ Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stomach problems - Please help!!

Coach Robb wrote:
Please re-send, I can't find the email anywhere. BTW - how did you race go this past weekend?
-Robb Beams/MotoE

I just re-submitted the email to robb3@earthlink.net. My food log is attached as a .doc (Word) file, so maybe your spam filter is catching it?
Also, things didn't work out for me to get to race this past weekend. :x

Author:  Coach Robb [ Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stomach problems - Please help!!

Thanks! I will check with my staff to ensure that I receive this...I will get back to you ASAP!

Author:  fitnessandfuel [ Thu May 03, 2012 7:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stomach problems - Please help!!

Idk if you got this all figured out yet so here is my short and sweet 2 cents....

I agree that it sounds like the issue is low blood sugar and perhaps the blood pooling. I know you said you had tried walking around after the race but I don't think you said for how long. A cool down period should help the pooing but may not have been effective in completely eliminating the nausea because the low blood sugar was still an issue.

It doesn't look to me like you are consuming enough calories in general but have you considered eating oatmeal for breakfast on race days? The complex carbs in the oatmeal will help sustain your blood sugar longer. Combining it with a small amount of walnuts may help as well.

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