Question of the Day

Hey! I’m a freshman first year varsity female rower at a high school club team. All fall we’ve really only have done 2 land workouts that we do on a weekly basis. Workout #1 is a longer workout that involves running and erging for about an hour and I almost always throw up on this workout no matter how I try to change what I eat/how much fluids I consume. Our practice starts at 3:30 so its not like I’m working out right after a meal. Workout #2 is a shorter interval/SS workout on the erg and I usually don’t throw up or feel that bad on these workouts. I haven’t actually done that many land workouts since I was part of a boat training for HOCR but since, I always feel really nauseous during/after the workout. Recently, I started feeling sick on the shorter workout #2 and we just did a new 1min sprint interval workout and I felt so bad after. My stomach/throat just felt really acidic and I ended up doing really bad. I never really thought my vomiting was something too serious since it was usually just some water/air and I never threw up last year when we did harder workouts. But now I think it might be something more since it occurs so often. I know that stomach acid is really bad for the throat and I was wondering what foods I should avoid eating, when I should eat/what snacks to eat before practice, and how I should bring it up to my coaches. I’ve already told my parents and I think I’m going to see my doctor during break. Thank you so much! I love your blog it helped me sooo much my novice year.

I would definitely check in with your doctor because they’ll obviously be able to give you much better advice than I can. One of my friends in college had a similar problem and eventually found out it was the result of a peptic ulcer so the doctors he was seeing put him on a pretty rigid diet of super bland foods and medication to control the acid reflux. Luckily the foods he ate were still rowing friendly – oatmeal, toast, chicken, salad, fish, fruit, etc. – but it did get pretty boring after awhile and it took awhile for him to figure out how to get the necessary number of calories each day.

He had everything under control for awhile but then our senior year he finally had surgery for it because the ulcer wasn’t healing properly and the doctors were worried about it perforating. He was told to stop rowing numerous times and just kinda ignored them because the pain and discomfort wasn’t any more than what he was already experiencing when he was training and things seemed to be under control with his diet and the meds. Once it got to the point where they recommended surgery he realized he probably should have taken more time off to recuperate though so … just keep that in mind if your doctor gives you a similar recommendation.

As far as telling your coaches goes, just be straightforward with them. Obviously this is something out of your control so it’s not like they can be pissed at you for needing to modify the workouts or take time off. It sucks but your health is more important.

I’d stick to basic foods like oatmeal (those little single cup things are great), a bagel, toast … one of my friends eats an avocado every day before practice so you could try that too, along with maybe some nuts, fruit, etc. I’d stay away from spicy stuff, alcohol (…duh?), and anything that’s heavy on the citric acid, like grapefruits, tomatoes, oranges, etc. Avoiding dairy might be worth trying too. This was how another of my friends found out her previously unknown dairy allergy was causing her to throw up regularly at practice – she started eating a cup of yogurt before practice each day and didn’t make the connection until her doctor suggested cutting it out for a week. Assuming you do have an ulcer of some kind though, dairy can also exacerbate the problem by increasing the amount of stomach acid you’re producing (despite the fact that it initially makes you feel better by coating the stomach lining).

It might be worth keeping a food diary for a week or two so you can track what you’re eating, how you feel before/after practice, what workout(s) you did that day, etc. Most doctors/nutritionists will suggest doing this anyways as a way to narrow down what might be causing the problem so consider doing that before you see your doctor, that way you can hopefully expedite the process of figuring out what’s wrong.

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