Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lindsey Got Runover...

I'm trapped in a vicious sugar cycle that has seriously damaged my running mojo. I call it, the runover. What is a runover? A runover is when your body thinks it's hungover after running.

There are few things in this life to which I consider myself an expert. I know a little bit about this and that and just barely enough to survive in this adulty world. However, one topic I'm far to familiar with is the phenomenon known as the hangover. 

The hangover is my cup of tea, my stein of beer, my shot of whiskey. While I can't quote Associated Press style off the top of my head and can barely remember any of Italian language I minored in, here is what I remember from college:
- Never mix liquors
-Liquor + Beer, you're in the clear. Beer before Liquor, never been sicker.
-The more sugar in a drink, the worse you'll feel in the morning
-eat before and after
-it's never a good idea the next day

I can wake up the morning after drinking and immediately gauge my level of hangover. 
Level  1- sober/headache/cranky/sleepy but definitely functional. Drink coffee and water
Level 2- sober/headache/sleepy/tight stomach, drink coffee, water and OJ. 
Level 3- not sober/room spinning/headache/sleepy/hungry, drink coffee, eat something, and OJ. 
Level 4- still drunk/room spinning/headache/hungry/nausea/thirsty/nonstop feeling of wanting to puke, do not drink water or eat, go back to sleep for 4 hours. 
Level 5- Drunker than when you went to bed/room is like a tornado/throwing up everything you've consumed in the past 48 hours and some bile/smells are offensive/ do not drink water, or eat for 7 hours. 

My runovers started the day Lauren and I ran 15 miles together. At the end of our run, I felt great emotionally and mentally but it didn't take long for my stomach to drop and I just knew something was not right. As we limped our way towards the car, I felt more and more like I was waking up with a Level 4, minus the drunk. I had nausea, I was shaky, my stomach was cramping. I've had this happen after races before but it usually passes pretty quickly. I thought it was a combo of endorphins and blood sugar levels.  However, it stuck. I felt sick, hungover sick, the entire ride from Philly to New Jersey. I guzzled water along the way only to throw it back up minutes later. I figured I had not eaten enough the day before or during the run and my blood sugar levels were yelling at me. But I re-tallied and had fueled properly. I made oatmeal that morning with brown sugar and cinnamon and hazelnut coffee.

Then it hit me, I had had a lot of sugar that day in my oatmeal and coffee. I think there was a dessert of some type the night before. My dad once told me (as I fought to hide a Level 4 at the breakfast table during a visit home during college) that SUGAR dehydrates your body and thus causes hangovers. 

And a hangover is essentially dehydration. My body was dehydrated and thus behaving like it was hungover.  I made a mental note to watch sugar consumptions before long runs and to drink more water. I haven't been drinking enough water since the temperatures dropped. I guess since it's not warm, I don't assume thirst? The 15 mile runover passed quickly enough and soon I was devouring my dinner and back to feeling proud of my accomplishment. 

I thought the runovers would be a long-run only occurrence. I thought I was safe since I didn't foresee any double digit runs in my near future. I went on my merry runner way. It's cold and I see no reason to run outside when there is a chance your sweat will freeze\ to your face, so I've been sentenced to months of treadmill running.

And, apparently, runovers. A few nights ago, I powered out a glorious 5 mile tempo run (1 mile at 6.0, 1 mile at 6.3, 2 miles at 6.5, .5 miles at 6.3, .5 at 6.5). I felt awesome. I came home, chugged some water, made a smoothie, sat down to stretch, and it happened.... The Run Over. The spinning room, the nausea, the headache. I got a shower and went to bed. I was runover the past four times I have run. I've drank water before and after.  I've decreased the intensity which is hard to do on a boring dreadmill. It even happened on an easy 4 miler I attempted to squeeze in at my parents on Christmas eve. 

My sugar consumption has skyrocketed this month thanks to the wonder  that is Christmas cookies and my renewed love of Pop-tarts. It's the only change in my diet. And just like my body has an unpleasant physical reaction when some one asks me if I want do a shot or drink any form of whiskey or tequila, my running self is now afraid of the runover. I don't 'booze' nearly as much as I used to because I hate the hangovers and now they've invaded my running world! 

It's interesting how a minor increase in a small ingredient can have such a drastic impact on my body. I'm almost hesitant to believe that an extra scoop of sugar can wreck my system and wonder if there are any other factors at play. 

Any ideas, Blogworld? Has anyone ever experienced this? Is it just dehydration? Why didn't I feel this way during the summer when I was running longer distances and sweating more? I want to run again without the fear of spinning rooms and toilet hugging. 

Disclaimer: I'm not an alcoholic or a lush by any means. My alcohol consumption habits have always been on par with those in my age group. I drank a little in high school. Sorry, Mom and Dad. I drank a lot in college. Sorry, Liver. And while there have been some crazy bad-decision juiced moments since college, I've calmed down considerably and allocate any booze to weekends., I drank like a college student in college and now drink like a responsible 28 year-old. 


  1. yuck, sounds like dehydration. Once after a particularly brutal roller derby practice in August, in Texas, in a not air-conditioned roller rink, I was so workout-hungover the next day, I couldn't get out of bed. It was like graduation week of college-level hangover. I swore to listen to my body more carefully after that. Sounds like you do, but maybe try to identify a physical precursor to the hangover that happens during your workout, so you know when to stop pushing?

    So maybe up your water intake, throughout the day, not just before you work out. Or even drink some gatorade (sugar free maybe since you're concerned with sugar) after your run for the electrolytes. Sometimes water isn't enough for me.

    Or since it's so chronic, maybe it's a nutrient thing? potassium? sodium? Your body needs those for hydration too, as I understand it (I know very little about this though). Potassium and Health fact sheet:

    Dunno, hope that might help a smidge? Good luck!

  2. Thank you, Jessica! I have been lacking in bananas lately. I need to find other sources of potassium.

    PS- I love that you're in roller derby. :-)