Get Your Gut in Shape! (Recipe: Rich and Tender American Dinner Rolls)

Runners face a ton of gastrointestinal issues.  Common GI issues include:

  • Excessive gas
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain/cramping
  • Acid reflux
  • Diarrhea
  • Side aches
  • Loose stools
  • Flatulence
  • Burping/belching
  • Nausea
  • Urgent bowel movements

But don’t let this deter you from running because you can definitely keep these issues under control a majority of the time!

There are three primary factors that cause “runners’ trots,” according to Dr. David Nieman, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University and runner of nearly 60 marathons. They are: decreased blood flow and oxygen to the gastrointestinal tract, which essentially shuts down the system during exercise; jarring impact of the foot strike, which can induce muscle/tissue damage and inflammation; and what athletes eat before, during and after running.

Other issues that may cause or contribute to GI distress include emotional stress, performance anxiety, a change in routine, medication, weak pelvic muscles and dehydration.

The good news is that runners can train their GI systems to minimize these unpleasant issues. It’s time to get your gut in shape!

1. Educate Yourself.  Different sports, durations of activity, conditions and foods impact the body in distinctive ways. Using credible sources, learn as much as you can about exercise and nutrition. Knowing what to expect can help you make smart decisions about training and maintain awareness when something isn’t right.  For example, during lengthy marathons, the prolonged exertion and repetitious foot strikes can cause colon walls to flap and strike together, causing bleeding. However, GI bleeding is not normally associated with short-distance jogs.

2. Commit to a Comprehensive Training Program. The more prepared you are for your upcoming race, the more confident and less anxious you’ll be.

3. Develop a Consistent Running Schedule. Regular training, sleeping and eating habits can also help to develop bowel regularity.  It’s also important to stick to your routine on race day.

4. Incorporate Kegels into Your Fitness Routine. Weak pelvic muscles, especially in women who have given birth, may exacerbate GI problems. Strengthen these muscles with Kegel exercises.

5. Mimic Race Day Conditions. Most races are in the morning, so it may be smart to do most of your runs early in the day. This allows the body and intestines to get accustomed to the regimen.

6. Avoid Dehydration. Research has shown that dehydration can worsen GI problems. The goal is a liter to a liter and a half per hour, depending on conditions.

7. Decrease Fiber Intake 2 to 3 Days Before a Big Race. Nieman suggests replacing whole grains, fruits and vegetables with white rice, bagels, noodles and fruit juice, all of which offer carbohydrates without the fiber. “It’s not the healthiest thing,” Nieman said, “but the last thing you want is a lot of fiber in there causing pain while running.”

8. Limit Food and Drink on Race Day.  Experts recommend 30 to 60 grams of carbs for every hour of exertion. Those carbs can be supplied by taking in half a cup to a cup of sports drink every 15 minutes. Staying hydrating is also key to preventing GI problems.

9. Know Your Body. Everyone is different when it comes to what specific foods/beverages affect their gut.  The easiest way to identify potential problem foods is to keep a food and training diary. Keep track of what you eat, what types of GI problems you experience and even bowel movements. If you suspect a food allergy or intolerance, avoid that food or consult with a sports nutritionist.

10. Tailor a Training and Nutrition Plan that Works for You. Customization is everything. The main goal is to get the appropriate amount of carbohydrates and proteins in before the run.

Education and proper training can help you minimize gastrointestinal distress, but running is inherently tough on the body.

In Callie news, I signed my LRD up for a Freestyle seminar not this weekend but next weekend!  We are really excited!  And by we I mean I am really excited, but I know she will be when she figures she gets Mom time for a whole day!  And we got this at flyball practice the other day!  She is my little super star! 🙂


Quote of the Day:

“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” -Mark Twain

I will devour all things bread.  These were no exception.

Rich and Tender American Dinner Rolls DSC_4552

Rich and Tender American Dinner Rolls


  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 package rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 large egg, beaten lightly
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface and dusting rolls
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 8 pieces and softened


1. Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 200*. Once oven reaches 200*, maintain oven temperature 10 minutes, then turn off oven heat.

2. Microwave milk and sugar in microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl at full power until warm (about 95*). Whisk to dissolve sugar. Sprinkle yeast over surface of liquid, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 10 minutes to soften yeast. Whisk egg into milk mixture, dissolving yeast.

3. Combine flour and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on lowest speed to blend, about 15 seconds. With mixer running, add milk mixture in steady stream; mix on low speed until flour is just moistened, about 1 minute. With mixer running, add butter one piece at a time; increase speed to medium and beat until combined and dough is scrappy, about 2 minutes.

4. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead dough until smooth but still sticky, about 4 minutes. Scrape dough out onto work surface. Knead by hand until very smooth and soft but no longer sticky, about 1 minute; do not add more flour. Transfer dough to large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in warm oven until dough doubles in bulk, about 45 minutes.

5. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Punch down dough, replace plastic wrap, and let dough rest 5 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface and pat dough into 9-inch square. Fold dough into thirds, folding upper 3 inches down and lower 3 inches up. Pinch together edges to seal.

6.  Fold and roll upper sealed edge of dough toward center, pressing firmly with your fingertips to seal. Pull the upper edges of the dough down over the thick portion to meet the seam, pressing with your fingertips to seal. Repeat 5 or 6 times. The dough will lengthen and form a taut, narrow cylinder about 17 inches long. Gently stretch and roll the dough cylinder until it measures 36 inches long and about 21⁄2 inches wide.

7.  Holding the bench scraper at a 45-degree angle to the cylinder, lop off one end. Cut triangular-shaped rolls along dough, alternating the scraper 45-degrees to right and left. You should get 24 rolls. (I didn’t get quite this many!)

8. Transfer rolls to cookie sheet, then cover with clean kitchen towels and let rise until almost doubled in bulk, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 375 degrees.

9. Slide each cookie sheet with rolls onto another cookie sheet to prevent bottom crust from overbrowning; bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating cookie sheets front to back and switching positions from top to bottom halfway through baking time. Transfer rolls immediately to wire rack; cool 5 minutes and serve.

Courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated

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