Gastric distress is one of the most common reasons people fail to complete and ultra endurance cycling or running event. Here are some tips on how to deal with this sensibly and safely.


By far the best scenario is to avoid gastric distress altogether. You can do this by:

Hydrating well

Training your gut to take on the energy you need in training runs

Developing a list of foods that you know you can safely eat during your event. You can check out my article on EAT for more details.

Dealing with Nausea

When you start to feel sick and/or notice that food is not going down quite as well as you would like there are a few things you can do which might offset the nausea:

  • Make sure you are adequately hydrated; dehydration makes it impossible for your body to digest foods. Drinking a high carb drink will help get both energy and water in.
  • Products containing ginger and pineapple are generally recognised as offsetting feelings of nausea.
  • Ingesting foods which are easier to digest in liquid/semi-liquid form (high energy drinks, yoghurts, smoothies, ice creams and gels can be easier to eat.
  • Take small bites and eat slowly can help get things down
  • Switch to savoury - sometime the difficulty in eating is just that our body has had enough of one type of food/flavour, switching to something savoury/salty can help.
  • Have a rest - the constant churning that occurs from movement, especially when running might be causing some of the sickness, so take five to ten minutes and eat something while you have stopped.
  • Expelling air - whilst not the most sociable practice, getting rid of extra air by burping (or farting) can actually help.
  • Dealing with Loose Bowels

Loose bowels are the last thing you want when you are doing an ultra event as you will be getting rid of a lot of fluid making you dehydrated. A good way to avoid this is to make sure you only eat things you have tried and tested in training and are confident agree with you. Low fibre options both during and before your event should help make sure you are not too loose.

It's a good idea to be prepared for any bowel movement with methods of keeping clean and dry to prevent soreness (a small packet of wet wipes, some emollient cream like savlon just in case).

In the short term taking something to stop the unwanted bowel movements can help, but can also store up problems for further down the line in multi-day events.

One loose bowel movement however, whilst uncomfortable might be something you can recover from if you make sure you take on plenty of fluids and electrolytes.

Loose bowels are not to be confused with diarrhoea caused by infection. If you are ill and carrying an infection causing you to have liquid stools, run a temperature and causing gastric pain the safest thing to do is stop and seek medical help.


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Clare Pearson
Post by Clare Pearson
June 4, 2024
A professional endurance coach since 2018, Clare Pearson has worked with endurance cyclists and runners to help them achieve their goals. Clare specialises in endurance events, she loves to work with people to help them succeed at their own goals; whether that's a personal best, a completion, a podium or better emotional health. Clare will work with you to design a plan that fits in with your day to day life and helps you get the most out of each session.