Heat Headaches?

19 04 2012

Last weekend, I packed up these guys:


And headed to Orlando to hang out with Bill 🙂

Shortly after I arrived on Friday night, we went for a run. Usually I take Fridays as my rest day, but since I did something fun on Tuesday night and didn’t get a workout in, I counted Tuesday as my rest day. We went on our usual 4-mile loop, and man, Bill made me work.

4 miles at 8:02 average? I’ll take that!

I also had a long run planned for the weekend too, and was hoping Bill would be up for running some of it with me. Thankfully, since I’m tapering (WAHHOOO!!), I “only” had 12 miles to run. We had talked about strategy for doing the run, and we were originally going to run 8, then Bill was going to grab his bike and ride the last four with me. He isn’t training for a marathon, so he typically doesn’t go for a 12 mile run on the weekends.

We geared up, and hit the road.

We got a little bit of a late start for the Florida heat (and by “little” I mean we started around noon).  But there was some cloud cover and I figured my body needs to learn to train in the heat anyhow.

We hadn’t really mapped a route, but we had a general idea of where we needed to turn around for the 8 mile loop to head home. When we were almost to where I thought the turnaround for the 8 mile loop would be, I looked at my watch and realized we were only a little over 3 miles in. I told Bill, and he said he was feeling good so we should just keep running to Lake Eola. I had mapped out how far it was to Lake Eola, and it was 6.5 miles. Bill was going to do the whole thing with me!

The way to Lake Eola wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t feeling super, but Bill kept encouraging me along the way. When we got to the Lake, there was an art festival going on with TONS OF PEOPLE. We dodged and weaved through some of it, and then I told Bill that we needed to get out of here. He joked and said it was practice running through the crowds at a busy race:-)

At about mile 7, we stopped at 7-11 to grab some Gatorade and headed back home. I was feeling ok, but the last two miles felt like forever. I had to stop and walk some; the heat was getting to me! As soon as my watch beeped at the 12 mile mark, I stopped running and switched to a walk, even though we weren’t quite home yet. I was SO over running at that point.

I can’t believe I have to do that twice, plus another 2.2 miles IN TWO WEEKS! Marathon day is so close!

I peeked at our splits when I got home on Sunday night, and they were actually pretty decent:

I’m so proud of Bill for sticking out the 12 miles with me. He was doing GREAT the whole way and was the only reason I kept going. I’m pretty sure that was his PDR (Personal Distance Record); he’ll be upping his mileage soon enough though, when we start training for our Half Ironman!

After the run, we refueled at Garabaldi’s. Unfortunately, we didn’t think it was quite as good as last time, but it was still tasty.

A bean burrito and cheese enchilada. Rice and veggies too, smothered in cheese sauce. Mmm cheesy!

We got home after filling our bellies, and promptly took a nap on the couch. I was starting to feel a headache coming on, and I hoped a nap would squash it. I should have known better though…

Let me back up.

Over the past year, I’ve noticed that when I do strenuous exercise in the heat, I will often get a pretty bad headache afterwards.  Last triathlon season, I remember coming home from almost all of my triathlons and developing a headache shortly thereafter. I never thought too much about it; I just took a few ibuprofen and then took a nap. But at Rockett’s Landing, my head started to pound not long after finishing the race. I was still hanging out near the finish line, so I asked one of the medics for some ibuprofen. He didn’t have any, but after asking me what was wrong, he told me I was probably dehydrated and he gave me a few salt tabs. I wondered how that could be, since I drank plenty of water and gatorade during the race. And, after going to the bathroom, it certainly didn’t appear I was dehydrated (if ya know what I’m sayin…). I took the pills, and figured he probably knew what he was talking about.

And you know what? It helped! I was able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with only a slight headache, instead of a pounding, I-only-want-to-lay-in-bed-and-sleep headache. From that day on, I was on a mission to find salt tabs. I also decided to investigate Accelerade and AccelGels, since they contain more sodium than Gatorade and Gus.

For my late season races last year, I tried to take either Salt Stick or Endurolytes right after racing. If I remember correctly, I didn’t get headaches after any other race last season.

This year, as I train in Florida for my marathon and will soon be training for my tris, I have again been plagued by headaches after working out. Even one night after a hard swimming practice I developed a headache! I know I haven’t been really strict about watching my nutrition, but I have been taking AccelGels during and Salt Tabs after my longer runs but still get headaches.

During my 20 miler I drank an Accelerade sample I bought at a running store (I wanted to try it out before buying a huge tub of the stuff), had a few Gus and Accel Gels, and took salt tabs afterwards and I didn’t get a headache. It also wasn’t blazin’ hot that weekend either…

After doing some research, I think the headaches are caused by an electrolyte imbalance. I think I just sweat a lot, which throws off the balance of salt and water in my system. I need to be sure that I’m replacing my electrolytes before, during and after exercise. I’m no expert, so please, if you know more, tell me!

As I write this post, I’m really thinking I need to pay even closer attention to my nutrition whenever I workout. Earlier this week,  I placed an order for Accelerade and ordered some more AccelGels as well. I also have a canister of salt tabs. Is there anything I’m missing?

Now that I’m a Florida gal, I’ve got to learn how to hydrate my body properly when I do strenuous activity. Drinking only water  does not work for me! I certainly don’t want to get headaches every time I do a tough workout.

So- has anyone else experienced anything similar? Does anyone have suggestions for how I should figure out what works best (besides just experimenting?)



12 responses

19 04 2012
Katie Schweizer

Hi Steph! I don’t get headaches, but if I get dehydrated I get head rushes (low blood pressure and not enough electrolytes) and also gnarly charlie horses. My trainer (at the time, two years ago) suggested that when I’m training alot, I take a potassium supplement, and it seems to help, particularly in the summer. I’ve heard great things about salt tabs, too! Also, what I’ve learned to love doing is RIGHT when I wake up in the morning, I drink a whole glass of water before I get out of bed (I put it on my bedside table before I go to bed the night before). That way I immediately start hydrating myself. Oh and another thought – my friends LOVE Hammergels too. I’m not a huge fan, but they say it works well for them! Let me know how your experimenting turns out..and thanks for the post!

19 04 2012

Great ideas! Thanks for the tips!

19 04 2012

I still need to try salt tablets myself.

Also everytime I see your kitties I want to stell them, they are so cute 🙂

19 04 2012

Yes you should, especially since you are IM training!!

19 04 2012
Tori @ In Love and Peanut Butter

What a good tip! I’ve never tried Salt tabs but I got a horrible headache after each of my triathlons last summer. I figgured it was dehydration but never knew that would help.

I’ll have to try them!

19 04 2012

I think they help, but I realized I probably should take them DURING to help me maintain the balance, instead of after, when I’ve already lost all the water…

19 04 2012
Leslie Jespersen Silva

I am so glad you posted this – I’m not an athlete and am really out of shape, and obese, plus just had my 2nd child – but headaches always stopped me from keeping a workout regimen. I sweat like crazy during workouts and even drinking gatorade and water I got bad headaches that worried me to the point where people have told me to go for stress-tests, etc. I always thought I wasn’t breathing correctly or something. I’m going to pay attention to my nutrition as well when I begin working out and try a salt tab if this happens again and see if it works! Thanks for posting!!

20 04 2012

Glad you found it helpful! Thanks for reading;)

20 04 2012

Good running! Which half Ironman are you doing?

I’ve done Rockets Landing too! Fun race!

21 04 2012

I’m doing the Rev 3 in Sarasota! I liked Rockett’s Landing, except for the run! Stairs??? NO thank you!

25 04 2012
Marathon Checklist « 321delish

[…] want to make sure that I have enough energy to get me through the race, and I want to try to prevent headaches so I’m bringing some peanut butter Gu, some vanilla AcellGel (which I just got in the mail!), […]

1 05 2012
Country Music Marathon Race Report « 321delish

[…] too worried, since I had done all my training in Florida; I was just worried about getting a headache from dehydration […]

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