Monday, January 18, 2010

Running Headaches

For over a year, I have been getting these devestating headaches after morning runs. By "devestating," I mean an ache that starts slowly but progresses into nausea, and a few times, vomiting (TMI?). This mainly happens after hard runs or anything over 6 miles.

I tried drinking a lot of water, but that often did not help. So the other day after my 17-miler (which went very well by the way), I randomly drank a leftover Clif Quench that I had lying around. Sure enough, no headache. I even drove out to see "The Ukrainian" and did not have that extreme fatigue/sleepiness that long runs and drives normally give me.

According to the article I linked below, as well as a Google search, I learned that electrolyte imbalances can cause headaches. I always figured that muscle cramping was a result of an imbalance, but the brain? Maybe it's the "muscles" around my skull? The scary thing is, though, that if I am really having an imbalance enough to give me these bad headaches, then my muscles must be experiencing something, even if I can't feel it. Especially that big muscle -- the heart -- which in extreme situations, can experience cardiac arrest. Did you know that the increased risk for marathon-related heart attacks isn't just there during the race... it continues for 24 hours afterward (see Wikipedia; not the most reliable source, but it has the documentation to back that up)?

Sure enough, I did a lot of intervals this morning and did not get a headache, either. Maybe I still have enough electrolytes? The fact that I never used to get this until I gave up sports drinks sends me the cue that gels are not enough.

So runners, consider this a PSA (Public Service Announcement). Keep your electrolytes in balance!

P.S. Below is a list of foods I resisted today. They are copious in the office. Not that I am on a diet (I find people who obsess about that kind of thing annoying and need to focus on more important things in life; yes, I used to be one of those people, so I know!), but I pride myself on being able to control myself and save myself from a few stomachaches -- a topic for another post(?).

- powdered brownie bites
- banana cream pie (yes, even my dairy-intolerant self would normally nibble at this)
- Spanish rice
- enchiladas
- lasagna
- chocolate cake
- some sort of Mexican beans

P.P.S. It is extremely rainy and windy out there. After having waited and ran 26.2 miles in similar weather, most rain storms in Southern California no longer phase me. However, I have to say that today was worse than any of those two, and I'm glad I already ran today and simply need to worry about driving those 7 miles home when work lets out.



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