Sickness during races


Hoping for some advice! My son competes at XC in the 5k range (He’s still at school) Recently he’s been having issues with feeling really sick during afternoon races. I assume it’s related to his food intake and timing and hope he can tweak what he eats to prevent the nausea. To complicate things he has coeliac disease (autoimmune disease to eating gluten), is lactose intolerant and suffers from oesophagitis. He can’t eat oats because of this and eggs also make him sick - aaaaaaaaargh!

The majority of his competitive runs are at around 11 am so he will normally have a bacon bagel and glass of milk at around 8am in the morning and then has a pretty good race, no sickness.

His county races are mainly in the afternoon between 2-3pm so he has 2 meals beforehand - cereal and milk at around 8/9 then the bacon bagel at around 11. He is finding that after about 1k he starts to feel very sick and underperforms as a result. He is adamant that he is very comfortable with his pace and not going too fast.

He has always had to eat around 2.5/3 hours before running – any closer to the run and he has reflux. He did try skipping lunch once and that was a disaster. He can whizz around a 9am park run without eating breakfast with no problems though!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated as he is getting very disheartened. He has ADHD amongst other issues and running is the thing that makes him feel good about himself.

Thank you


  • I can only speak for myself but I have some similar issues - I am gluten intolerant (not full coeliac, but wheat does cause me some unpleasant issues) and also can't eat close to a run. I do most of my training fasted, unless I go out after 9 (which includes parkrun and races), in which case, after some experimentation, I've found I'm OK with a pure carb meal around 6am. I can eat oats, so that's what I have, but perhaps there's another cereal that would suit your son better (Sainsbury's do rice flakes in the Free From section, which you can make porridge from). Any fats or proteins, and particularly dairy, make me very uncomfortable and prone to reflux, although I can eat them after a run no problem. I am just a very slow digester and fats and proteins slow down digestion so I avoid them prior to running. You may find giving him something less fatty in his bagel will help, or have the bagel and bacon earlier and the cereal later.
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