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Why You Might Feel Nausea When Or After Running

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If you have not felt nausea when running, are you even a runner? Okay so I may be exaggerating a little, but for most runners the struggle is real. Nausea while running can occur for a multitude of reasons. Some runners are more prone to this problem than others. There are external factors that can tribute to runner’s stomach. 

So why does it happen? Can you avoid it? Is it detrimental to your training?

Why Do I Get Nauseous When Exercising?

While we work out, blood flows to all of those essential organs like the heart, brain and lungs. Because of this, you have less blood down in the old digestive system. The result is that your body is not digesting your food like it normally does. This leads to gastro distress. 

According to physicians, the amount of blood that will be diverted depends on the exercise you are doing. It also depends on the person. Some people seem virtually immune to this phenomenon while others will get the nausea no matter what they change about their routine. 

Some athletes insist that if you don’t experience nausea, you are not working hard enough. Honestly, that is just plain silly. It typically has more to do with what you have eaten, when you ate it, the temperature you are working out in and the exercise you are doing. 

High-intensity interval training, for example, seems to cause nausea in a lot of people. A non impact activity like cycling is typically less likely to cause it. Having said that, no two athletes are exactly alike. 

Runner’s Stomach: Why It Happens?

As mentioned, physical activity diverts blood which can cause havoc on the digestive system. Runner’s stomach can take many forms. It can be anything from mild nausea to vomiting to bowel crushing diarrhea. If you have experienced the gamut of stomach issues I just described, you know that this is no small thing to deal with. 

nausea while running

In addition to the diversion of blood, other things impact if some runners will have tummy issues while on a run. For example, many runners have to be careful what they will eat and how soon they can run after eating. Other runners find that running fasted is what is best for them to avoid stomach issues. 

If you are running long enough to need fueling mid-run, you have probably been warned that you need to practice with the fuel you plan to use on race day. This is to avoid race day problems that might pop up. Carefully choosing what you use as fuel can help avoid issues, also.

Pre Run Food

Many runners find that eating something bland at least 60 minutes before a long run helps them to fight off nausea and other stomach problems. Oatmeal is my “go to” breakfast on a long run or race day.

I like to eat it at least 45 minutes before I run, if I am running shorter. If I have a long run, I eat roughly 60-90 minutes before the run, then I have a small something right before heading out. It might be a banana or a cereal bar of some type. 

I know runners who eat a full two hours prior to a long run because that is what works best for them.

Fueling The Run

I really struggle with this category. Many runners take in sport gels to help keep their body moving and give it energy. Personally, those cause me stomach issues… but they do work for many people! Other athletes prefer a chew or sport bean. To be honest, there are so many different types of fuel out there. Why not try them all? 


If all of these options cause you stomach issues, you may find that fueling with real food works best for you. One running friend fuels with raw honey, another with homemade maple syrup. Personally? I use either Honey Stinger Waffles or plain old fruit snacks. Yup, the ones little kids eat. 

The point is to find something that works for you and stick to it. Don’t worry about how other people fuel. 

How Do I Stop Nausea When Running?

If you are mid run and it happens, slowing down or walking are your best bets to help make it stop. Another tactic is to find a shady route, if you are running in heat. For me, getting out of the sun can make a big difference. 

Prevention is honestly the best course of action. In other words, don’t let it get to the point where you are struggling during a run. Find your sweet spot of when to eat pre-run. Experiment with what you can eat that does not upset your stomach. Work on mastering fueling that works for you during a long run. 

All of these little things can help you not experience this nausea when running.

Is Feeling Sick After Running Normal?

Nausea after running is to be expected for many athletes. I don’t actually want to say “normal” because, heck, no-one thinks feeling ill is normal. Right? But is it to be expected? You betcha. For many of us, it just is. 

You may want to also experiment with what you can take in post run that helps to settle that stomach down. When I run long, especially on a hot day, I find that a protein shake actually sits better than any real food. Knowing how important it is to fuel post run, this is the best routine for me. Trying to force food down never ends well for me, so I decided to stop fighting that battle. 

If it is hot out, get out of the sun. Find a cool or shady place to stretch. Hydrate your body. If you have access, either take a cool shower or wipe your face down with a cool, wet cloth. You may find a post run routine that leaves you feeling like a million bucks, if you follow it every time. 

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