I recently had an experience where I was not so intelligent about my own body intelligence........resulting in experiencing nasty headaches. Searching high and low for obscure and convoluted causes and solutions, it was a little embarrassing that the answer was quite simple (and obvious!)
I have been training for a longer distance trail run and therefore, have started to do some longer runs. Normally, I would only run for about an hour, with lots of stops and rests. I always felt fine after the runs and enjoyed them a lot! As I started to run longer, I was out on the trails for up to 2 hours and would be drinking water during the runs. Not too much though, because I could feel it sitting in my stomach sloshing around if I drank too much. I felt ok during these runs, not amazing, but I just put it down to being out of my comfort zone. However, the big problem was, I kept getting these nasty headaches after my runs.
It never ever occurred to me that it could be dehydration and it certainly never occurred to me that I could be overheating. I was looking for some hormonal, muscle imbalance, digestion something issue to give me the answer.
As I write this, painful memories of the GC Marathon 2012 come flooding back where I ended up in hospital with heat stroke. You would think that I would have learnt my lesson then that I needed to change my strategies for keeping hydrated and keeping cool. Because, on that day, I actually drank heaps of water.....but in hindsight, realised that my body was not absorbing the fluid. I never ever drink the sports drinks because I cannot bring myself to put that sugary florescent stuff in my mouth!
So it wasn’t until I got to the point of almost giving up on the running thing that I sort the advice of my guru friend Keri. She is an acupuncturist and she is not a runner, and has this quirky gift of being able to talk in pictures. After that “episode” in hospital with heat stroke she had politely and flamboyantly told me how there are two ways to get from A to B.....one is the way I’ve been doing things, and the second way is to put on a beautiful dress, a wide brimmed hat and get in the passenger seat of the green convertible saab. ie. stop doing things the hard way and pushing myself to the extreme, and take the easy, fun cushy ride for a change! (by the way, neither of us knew what a convertible saab looked like but it sounded posh!...and who knows why it had to be green). So since then, I have been taking the saab and have not run any longer distance events....until now.
When I asked her for her advice this time, I said to her, I think I need to have the saab conversation again. I told her what was happening with the running and headaches and basically wanted confirmation from her that I should give up aiming for this event and "take the saab". I couldn’t make that decision on my own, but, if Keri told me to, then I would somehow be able to “give up” without giving myself too much of a hard time.
You can imagine my delight when Keri just looked at me with one of those faces like I want to tell you that you are an idiot but I am going to just smile instead. She said, “Jac, two words, coconut water!” Why had I never thought of this myself?????? Glucose, electrolytes......natural.....easy.....will get the water absorbed into my body.
Seriously??? It was that simple???
I was just getting overheated and dehydrated and I could solve it just like that????
Then, on top of that, I also finally consulted my fitness and running guru (ie my partner) and he added that I needed to keep my head cool “pour water on your head Jac.” (which, I might add, is not new advice, he’s actually told me several times before...just didn’t quite sink in!!)
So armed with my coconut water and my ever so fashionable headwear (see photo below!!), I ran twice on the weekend for longer times and did not have a headache!!! I felt great and recovered really well! Lucky I had a fabulous new running top to counteract the fashion fopa!
This lessons reminds me of a few things that are important for all of us;
- When we go back to basics and look at things very logically, the answer is usually obvious and simple.
- Sometimes you just have to ask for help.
- Sometimes it takes a little longer to learn the lesson......so, be patient with your friends and family.
- It’s amazing what your body can do when you are hydrated and your brain isn’t cooked!