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    I'm a 20-something, recently married, runner who recently moved to New York City. Questions? Email therunnerwife (at) gmail (dot) com!

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Why Buy The Cow….

…if milk upsets your digestion!

First of all, thanks to everyone for all your wonderful yogurt suggestions! If you missed my Chobani discovery, check it out here.

Two readers, Molly and Maggie, asked me about a comment I made in the post – that I’d avoided dairy during much of my race training – and they wanted to know why. To clarify, I didn’t abstain completely from dairy. However, I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older that I’m more sensitive to dairy products. Thankfully, I don’t feel sick when I eat dairy. But the Huz can attest to the noisy stomach situations that have ensued after a hearty bowl of alfredo or scoop of ice cream.

When I started training to break two hours for a half marathon in 2007, I took a very serious look at my diet. I noticed that I felt the (ahem) GI distress much more when I really pushed my pace. Probably something to do with the added strain on my intestines due to the increased exertion level. I also started to hone in on my perfect pre-run dinner and pre-run breakfast. Over time, and after much experimentation, I found that I really had no choice but to eliminate dairy from my life for at least 24 hours before a long run. Even though I was very sad to skip the parmesan cheese that should have been piled atop my pre-run whole wheat penne with fresh pomodoro sauce and grilled chicken, the sacrifice paid off – I beat my time goal with several minutes to spare – 1:52:53!

This year, I started adjusting my diet with much thanks to the blog world. I starting reducing meat intake, drinking green monsters, and even got a juicer for my birthday from my handsome Huz. I also reduced my dairy intake along the way, adding almond milk to my monsters, a splash of soy milk in my tea, etc. I found that doing this basically guaranteed I would have long runs free of GI distress (which is pretty huge if you’re running in through Harlem and need to….).

Now that I’m done with my training for the year, I’m bringing dairy back into my diet but I’m not going overboard. If I want it, I have it. If I have a tasty alternative, I’ll likely enjoy that instead. I still haven’t found a soy cheese or other non-dairy alternative that gives me the satisfaction and enjoyment a tasty hunk of Brie does, but I’m always open to new options.

Please don’t take my word as gospel as far as the dairy/running/GI distress issue goes. For some people, fiber is the kicker. Others can’t have meat or oil. Finding the perfect fuel for your running is, unfortunately, not an exact science. But the good news is that your body is a wonderful laboratory and hopefully you’ve got many years of long, short and in-between runs that will provide many opportunities for experimentation.



5 Responses

  1. Great point about experimenting – somethings don’t bother me at all on normal days, but on running days? It’s like something horrible is going on in my body.

    Glad you found that out so you could end the GI issues when running!

  2. Very interesting how cutting out the dairy, which caused you digestive trouble, improved your running time! I do find that certain foods make me feel more ill during my runs (heartburn mostly)…I am going to pay special attention to cutting these foods down or completely out during my training. Glad you wrote about this! Thank you!

  3. Yes, that is an excellent point to pay attention to as I start to run more! I feel silly, but I honestly don’t pay that much attention to what I eat before I run, and now I wonder if that might be a very useful thing to do!

  4. Hey Katherine!! you may know, or not:) that i had to cut out dairy (and soy, for that matter, but i am not as strict about that!) for the little guy-it is so difficult after the no gluten stuff!! BUT i found this “ice cream” that is really made out of coconut milk, it is called purely decadent-find it at whole foods!! not bad for a little treat, of course you have to like coconut milk….

    • i love that stuff!! i actually made teddy taste some of my homemade raw vegan gluten-free ice cream when he came to visit – i’d even cracked open the coconut myself 🙂

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