Combating nausea ahead of the Comrades Marathon

Combating nausea ahead of the Comrades Marathon

The question on Ask Coach Parry today was submitted by Greg, who will be attempting his first Comrades Marathon this year. He says he suffers from nausea on runs longer than 35km’s.

He has tried all sorts of things, in his preparation for the Comrades Marathon, from gels to potatoes to biscuits, but can’t seem to get rid of that horrible sensation which often kicks off at the same time in a marathon or ultra-marathon.

He is concerned that it could seriously hamper his chances of finishing his first Comrades Marathon. A friend of his suggested that he use motion sickness tablets as it worked for him.

Apparently the consistent running motion – especially if there are big crowds – can bring on nausea.

He has never heard of this remedy and he wants to know if there is any merit in it or if it is just an urban legend?

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Brad Brown: The question on Ask Coach Parry today was submitted by Greg, who will be attempting his first Comrades Marathon this year. He says he suffers from nausea on runs longer than 35km’s.

He has tried all sorts of things, in his preparation for the Comrades Marathon, from gels to potatoes to biscuits, but can’t seem to get rid of that horrible sensation which often kicks off at the same time in a marathon or ultra-marathon.

He is concerned that it could seriously hamper his chances of finishing his first Comrades Marathon. A friend of his suggested that he use motion sickness tablets as it worked for him.

Apparently the consistent running motion – especially if there are big crowds – can bring on nausea.

He has never heard of this remedy and he wants to know I there is any merit in it or if it is just an urban legend?

Lindsey Parry: There is a condition and it is very rare, and it normally means that there is a problem in the middle ear. It gives people ‘sea legs’ effectively when they are running, but it is really uncommon.

There are various reasons for people to feel nauseous when running. For a start, I guess it is worth checking it out just because you are aware of it.

I unfortunately haven’t had a chance to look at what potential negative consequences there are to taking anti-nausea medication and how it affects the kidneys and liver for example while they are already under duress.

I would check those out just from a medical point of view. But there are many other causes for nausea. Starting with a mild or severe intolerance to very sugary substances, to early onset hypernatreamia or over-hydration to even hypoglycaemia.

You can also get nausea if you are not taking in enough nutrition. Essentially where I would start is to limit the amount of sugar and sugary substances that you take to see how does that affect.

Or perhaps to try alternate sources of energy that are less sweet, like potatoe chips, very lightly salted pototoes, perhaps bananas – that sort of thing. And to reduce the frequency with which you take that stuff in.

At the intensities that we are going to be doing the Comrades Marathon at, you’ve probably got 3 – possibly even 4 hours of stored energy. So you really don’t have to thump your body with sweet, sugary stuff all day long.

You can take a little less often than we have been advocating over the last couple of years. Perhaps only every 2nd or 3rd water station and that may help with the nausea, but watch that you’re not over hydrating.

There is a growing prevalence both in South Africa and internationally. Again, we do the Comrades Marathon at a very low intensity, so if you are drinking a sachet of water at every water station which comes every 3km’s then you may well just be over doing it and hypernatraemia is certainly a possibility.

Of course if it is happening just on training runs at the same point every time, when nutrition is not affecting it, water is not affecting it – then it is definitely worth doing some investigating and seeing if perhaps there is a problem in the middle ear that is causing you to get a type of motion sickness and then to address it from there.

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