Danica Newon: Learning From Nutrition Mistakes

Danica Newon figured out how to run without stomach issues after dealing with them for almost two years. Photo: Danica Newon

Making a mistake during running? I cannot even count how many times I’ve done that!

The biggest thing I had to learn to deal with was having stomach issues while running. I’ve never had a sensitive stomach when running shorter distances or problems with any foods, but when I started running longer distances, I wasn’t able to just to drink Gatorade and take gels how most runners can. I struggled with this for almost two years before I figured out that I could do a few things differently to make running long distances easier and keep my stomach happy.

It wasn’t only during training runs, but also during races where I made this costly mistake. It was disappointing when I was running the race, having trained so long and working hard to finish and I would end up sidelined and struggling to push through the entire race. It was far from the crossing the finish line pumping my arms with a victorious smile spread across my face image I had in my mind. After the race, it was difficult to want to try to run another race when the only image that played in your mind was one of the porta potties along the course.

I thought this problem was something that everyone dealt with and it was just how things happened. I finally realized that it wasn’t the way it had to be. I changed up a few things to keep my stomach happy and still get the fuel I needed. It took a lot of trial and error, which was frustrating. I thought that I maybe wasn’t made to run long distances but once I realized what worked for me, the long runs I was doing in training were a bit easier and I wasn’t stuck in the bathroom, questioning if I could really complete the distance I had signed up for.

I tried a lot of different GUs, gels and types of fluids to see what would work until finally finding the perfect concoction of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water, Imodium and salt pills. Once I found things that worked for me, relief set in. I could run and eat at the same time and I wasn’t feeling tired on my long runs. I finished races feeling better and my training was better, which gave me the confidence to sign up for races.

The one thing I learned from struggling with stomach issues while training for my first few half marathons and marathons is to keep trying! It would have been easy to give up or to stop trying new things, but I’m so glad I stuck with it or else I would have never gotten to the finish line and learned so much along the way. I still have off days when nothing works, but those tough days make the good days much more memorable.

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.

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