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2014-01-04 3:29 PM

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Subject: Headaches after long workouts?

It seems that whenever I go much over 4 -5 hrs (run or bike, today it was a long trail run), I come back with a headache.

My first thought was hydration- but today I drank 80 oz in 5hrs and came back only about a pound down from where I started - so that's hardly severe dehydration.

I generally don't get headaches.  Like- I don't suffer from migraines or get headaches for other reasons.  Headaches for me are pretty rare, except for nearly every long training day.

Is this an electrolyte issue?  i.e. are headaches correlated with low electrolytes?

Today's long trail run, I ate 1 cliff bar, one salty peanut bar, one gel, 10oz of gatorade and one electrolyte tablet



2014-01-04 3:44 PM
in reply to: morey000

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

I get something like that but it is after intense efforts. I posted about it this fall and got some good info.

Here is the link if you want to take a look:

http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=504310&posts=15#M4888021

 

2014-01-04 5:40 PM
in reply to: morey000

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?
dehydration is a chronic issue and not only an acute one related to a single epside of training, even if 4-5 hours.

Post exercise headaches are common and can be caused by
heat
sunlight
dehydration
feuling/electrolytes

Next time you have a 4-5 hour workout planned on a weekend. pre-hdyrate for 4-5 days prior. it takes several days for the body to realize that hydration is ample and readjust ADH hormones properly. In hospitalized patients a lag time of 2-3 days is common.

Don't rule out dehydration until you've adequately hydrated chronically not just acutely. Even if you don't have headaches otherwise.

Just a thought from someone who has BTDT.
2014-01-04 8:36 PM
in reply to: AdventureBear

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?
Ditto on the above. I've trained for races up and including HIM in the tropics and if you are routinely doing workouts that long on the weekend, hydration is basically a week-long, all-day commitment, esp. in a warm climate. You have to make sure you are adequately hydrated during shorter workouts during the week as well as just routine daily activities, both before and after the "big one". Otherwise your overall levels will be low going into it and both the workout quality and your recovery afterward is going to suffer even though you "think" you have hydrated adequately. In my case I simply can't take in enough (without sloshing, GI discomfort) on a long ride/run not to finish a bit dehydrated--it's inevitable that I'll need to continue rehydrating throughout the day and into the next.

Also, what you describe doesn't sound like enough nutrition for a 4-5 hour run. I'm not an ultra runner but have done a few 50-60 km runs--I ate a lot more than that. It sounds like you only took in 300-400 calories; about what I'd take in for a 3-hour bike ride--and I'm lightweight and a real minimalist when it comes to workout nutrition.
2014-01-04 10:43 PM
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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?
I say hydration as well. The worst for me was when I drank 160 ozs of Gatoraid/water for one bike ride. It was hot and I planned and drank accordingly! I remember getting some headaches from the heat before and it was mostly due to not drinking enough. I try to drink something every 10-15 minutes and adjust the amount I drink by how I'm feeling and how hot it is.

Edited by Blastman 2014-01-04 10:43 PM
2014-01-04 10:52 PM
in reply to: morey000

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

For me it is always hydration. Listen to Adventure Bear she has more knowledge than most of us on this.

80 oz for 5 hours isn't a lot. Weighing pre and post isn't always accurate.

What were you drinking?



2014-01-05 9:46 AM
in reply to: KathyG

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

I've always run with an amphipod belt, but the most I can carry with that is 40oz.  So, now for my 'ultra' training, I bought a hydration backpack into which I can fit 70oz (2L) of water.  Then, I took a extra 10oz water bottled filled with Gatorade, and when I finished that, I added an electrolyte tablet to it, filled it with water from the backpack, and drank that too. So, 80oz, with 1/4 of it being electrolyte laden.  Plus the electrolytes in the gel, plus the other food.  I finished all the liquid about a mile before the end of my run.

I hear what you're saying w.r.t. hydration.  It's not something you do in an hour- it takes days to top yourself off, so perhaps I started off a little low.  But- this always seems to be a problem for me (the headaches).  I've read that your body can only absorb 16-20oz of water an hour (and as I weigh 132lbs, I'm probably on the light side of that), so any amount that you drink above that, just gets peed out and not really absorbed.  I peed 3 times during my run and it was straw pale every time.

So- I'll buy that perhaps I wasn't well hydrated prior to the run.  I drank as much as I could have absorbed during the run- and in hot weather, I realize that no matter how much you drink, you may not be able to keep up with your perspiration rate.

I've got a few more really long runs to test this all out before my 50miler.  That's why I was asking about electrolytes.  I realize that each person's needs vary considerably depending on how much salt is in their sweat.  I was wondering if headaches are a typical result of low electrolytes.  

 

thanks all

2014-01-05 2:54 PM
in reply to: morey000

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?
Were you wearing a hat or a visor?

In my longest training rides last summer I realized that I had to loosen my bike helmet toward the end or I would get a splitting headache. I didn't figure it out myself I mentioned that my head hurt at a stop and a more veteran rider than myself said check to see if your helmet is tight and it was.

2014-01-05 7:44 PM
in reply to: morey000

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?
Calculate how much sodium per hour you took in on that workout. On your next one , plan to take in 25% more and see how you feel afterwards. It's all trial & error. It's not the electrolytes as much as how well the salt content allows you to stay hydrated and get distribution to the tissues.
2014-01-05 8:44 PM
in reply to: AdventureBear

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

Originally posted by AdventureBear ... It's not the electrolytes as much as how well the salt content allows you to stay hydrated and get distribution to the tissues.

Firstly to Amy- yes, I did wear a cap.  Hmmm. Never thought of that.  I don't 'think' that was the problem, but maybe. The weird thing is that I didn't have a headache DURING the exercise- it only starts about an hour afterwards.

 

and Bear's comment w.r.t. the salt allowing you to stay hydrated.  I never thought of it like that.  So- the fact that I was peeing a few times- might mean that the water was going through me- and that had I taken in more salt, it would have been better distributed to my body/muscles?  interesting.

good thoughts.

2014-01-06 7:00 AM
in reply to: morey000

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?
nutrition is for sure something to look at..

but i would also ask about relaxation in the shoulders. Running, the shoulders tend to creep up engaging the traps, creating a lot of tension. which can lead to headaches. on the bike.. headaches come from cycling too.. holding the head up and tension in the shoulders. it all begins with a headache and morphs in to a migraine.

I experienced the headaches to migraines, once i figured it out.. I slowly fixed, and the headache went away.


2014-01-06 8:31 AM
in reply to: AdventureBear

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?
Originally posted by AdventureBear



Next time you have a 4-5 hour workout planned on a weekend. pre-hdyrate for 4-5 days prior. it takes several days for the body to realize that hydration is ample and readjust ADH hormones properly. In hospitalized patients a lag time of 2-3 days is common.





Can you elaborate on the pre-hydration? How much is too much? If we're talking trial and error then obviously feeling bloated may be too much, but just in general is there an oz per lb or something along those lines to base pre-hydration on? Is there anything (food or drink) to totally avoid a day or two before a race that could help as well?
2014-01-06 8:39 AM
in reply to: jonD81

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

#1 Cause is dehydration.  You appear to be almost properly hydrating (I would drink 100 oz of liquid / day without exercise)

#2 Cause is Hypoglycemia.  You appear to be replacing very little of the sugar that you are burning.

#3 Cause is low blood pressure.  I'm not a doctor.  If you think that this is your problem, see one.

2014-01-06 8:59 AM
in reply to: pga_mike

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

Originally posted by pga_mike

#1 Cause is dehydration.  You appear to be almost properly hydrating (I would drink 100 oz of liquid / day without exercise)

#2 Cause is Hypoglycemia.  You appear to be replacing very little of the sugar that you are burning.

#3 Cause is low blood pressure.  I'm not a doctor.  If you think that this is your problem, see one.

The rough figure is that you should be replacing 30% of the calories that you burn in long workouts.  Mostly in carbs.  Unless you weigh 40 lbs, I'd guess that you are missing that mark.

2014-01-06 12:00 PM
in reply to: morey000

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

Originally posted by morey000

It seems that whenever I go much over 4 -5 hrs (run or bike, today it was a long trail run), I come back with a headache.

My first thought was hydration- but today I drank 80 oz in 5hrs and came back only about a pound down from where I started - so that's hardly severe dehydration.

I generally don't get headaches.  Like- I don't suffer from migraines or get headaches for other reasons.  Headaches for me are pretty rare, except for nearly every long training day.

Is this an electrolyte issue?  i.e. are headaches correlated with low electrolytes?

Today's long trail run, I ate 1 cliff bar, one salty peanut bar, one gel, 10oz of gatorade and one electrolyte tablet

For me it is always directly related to how many calories I have consumed. Usually eating fixes my headache. 

 

2014-01-06 12:06 PM
in reply to: KSH

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

One other factor that always hits me with a headache after long efforts is sinuses.  Sinus headaches are very common when dry/dusty.



2014-01-06 12:15 PM
in reply to: morey000

Subject: ...
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2014-01-06 12:35 PM
in reply to: tkos

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

30-60 g of carbs / hour of running is the recommended range.  http://www.active.com/running/articles/7-mistakes-to-avoid-on-your-long-runs

A gel has about 25g. Gatorade 17g. Peanut bar 20g. Clif Bar 40g

4 hour run minimum 120g for a VERY small & efficient athlete.  OP took in 102.

Science is funny.  (Yes, I am a know it all IRL, too!)

2014-01-06 2:42 PM
in reply to: pga_mike

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

Well, thank you for all the calculations.  It may be fair to add in the bowl of cereal, soy milk and juice I had right before my run- probably 500-600 calories of mostly carbs there.  But yes, I sure I came far from replacing everything I burned.  (FWIW - I weigh 134lbs)  Nor was it my intent.

 I didn't realize that low carbs (low blood glycogen) was a cause of headaches, so perhaps this truly is it.   Some level of Glycogen depletion was partially intentional, as I have read there is an adaptation benefit to trying to deplete much of your glycogen stores for some runs.  Definitely don't want to bonk.  So, I was combining that with doing a mix of testing what foods I could digest while running (Gatorade- very easy, gels- easy, cliff bar- medium, peanut bar- a test of a tougher item, which went well).  I'm planning on eating quite a bit more for my upcoming Ultra with cliff bars being high on the list, plus whatever they're offering on course..  The pre-race cereal has worked well for me, as do bananas.  Non-fat yogurt, doesn't work for me.  All part of the learning process.

I only have 2 or 3 really long runs left over the next 5 weeks (before a 3 week taper) to finalize my nutrition, hydration and electrolyte intake as much as possible prior to my 50miler on March 1st.  I'll up my calorie as well as electrolyte intake on my next couple runs to see how that works out.

 

 

er... yes, I wore a hat, glasses (very light prescription ones).  don't think they were the problem. I wear bluetooth headphones as well- but they're pretty comfortable.  I didn't have any sinus congestion so I don't believe that's it for me.

 

2014-01-06 3:41 PM
in reply to: morey000

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?
I'm a heavy sweater, and I tend to be a heavy drinker as well (1 bottle of water with 2 electrolyte tabs per half hour on the bike, for example). I often ended up with bad headaches, until I started taking a salt supplement, as well. Salt may not be your issue, but it's helped me immensely.
2014-01-06 4:59 PM
in reply to: mc_charles

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

Originally posted by mc_charles I'm a heavy sweater, and I tend to be a heavy drinker as well (1 bottle of water with 2 electrolyte tabs per half hour on the bike, for example). I often ended up with bad headaches, until I started taking a salt supplement, as well. Salt may not be your issue, but it's helped me immensely.

 

I could be very wrong, but I went into this thinking that my personal cause was either dehydration or low electrolytes.  The idea that it may be low blood sugar is kind of a new idea to add into the mix.  Given the number of times I peed, both during and after my run- I don't believe that I was very dehydrated, but a post above indicated that the electrolytes are really necessary to store and distribute water in your body.  So, my reigning theory is that it wasn't that I wasn't drinking enough (although, i was probably 20oz shy for the run), but rather that I was taking in insufficient electrolytes to really store and utilize that water.  I realize everyone is different, so I kinda' need to figure out what works for me by trial and error.  I'll be taking a few more salt tablets with me this weekend for another test and we'll see how that goes.

actually, there is a way to test your sweat for the amount of salt it contains- an apparently people vary considerably and it allows a person to formulate the 'perfect' hydration solution for them.  I'm not a heavy sweater- but it's possible that my sweat is saltier than most.  I know that I am covered in white powder (slight exaggeration) after a good long run/ride (and my dog enjoys licking it off my legs).



2014-01-06 5:29 PM
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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

Also keep in mind that hydration is important before, during, and AFTER the workout.  Also know that not everything you drink is actually absorbed.  Our bodies are not 100% efficient at rehydration.  If you're 2 pounds dehydrated, you likely need to drink much more than 2 pounds of water to get back to fully hydrated.  So depending when the last time you drank was...and how much you drank...the scale can be misleading.



Edited by Jason N 2014-01-06 5:30 PM
2014-01-07 12:11 PM
in reply to: morey000


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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?
To throw my two cents into the ring,

I've always suffered from intense headaches/migraines. Took a while to fully diagnose (all through my younger to high school years) and it came down to nutrition. Hydration played a big part as well. I drink more water now at 29 than I ever have and it helped tremendously when I'm not excercising, but increasingly so as I train. I generally try to keep to drinking the better part of a gallon of water a day even when I'm not exercising. Granite I use the restroom more than a Kentucky Derby horse, but it seems to help me a lot in addition to a healthy well balanced diet. The less processed food I eat and more wholesome fruits and veggies, the better I feel.

I found over time that I wasn't taking in enough calories to sustain myself throughout my day with or without training. I'm never hungry in the morning but it always come back to haunt me later in the day (generally by lunch when my head hurts and I can eat 3x what my co-workers would eat (and I'm lean and 155 lbs. and 6'0"). Once I started eating a decent sized meal for breakfast and throughout the day my headaches seized almost entirely. I still get an occasional dull headache but only ever once in a while.

I found that on training days I needed to eat a well balanced meal that left me satisfied the night before, eat something hearty and with a decent amount of protein the morning of and drink plenty of water all throughout the days before and after. Then after completing my workout (bike, swim, run, lift, any activity) it was time to get some more protein and eat something hearty again. Feeling satisfied (not overly stuffed) but content after a workout really kept my headaches at bay.

Water and electrolytes are essential while training, but general nutrition to sustain activity for hours while sweating and in hot temperatures really is what helped me the most.

I'm well aware that every person is different and certain things work better for some people than others, but hydration is one part of the equation, and fueling your body for intense activity is another. Just food for though.

Good luck. I hope you can get your headaches under wraps. From one sufferer to another, it can get better quickly.

Cheers.

Alex
2014-01-07 3:44 PM
in reply to: e_powered

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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?
All of these things discussed contribute in some part to post exercise headaches.

Assuming nothing medical is the cause (which it doesn't sound like it based on the description) such as a brain bleed or anuerism or tumor (medical disclaimers apply here) then EVERYTHING mentioned here can play a part.

"Hypoglycemia" per say is probabaly not the cause, but conversion of energy soure from mostly carbs to mostly fat if you are deliberately underfueling can contribute. Far better to simply convert your entire daily diet no NO processed foods/starches or sugars, and none during training either Consider UCANN.

However, even given that you can use traditional sports fuels but you need to acclimate yoru body to it. < 60 minutes no problem. Then do a 90 minute run under-fueling, then a 2 hr, then a 2:30 hr, etc. You need to progressively train all this stuff.

Hydration is probably the #1 culprit that sets you up to tolerate this sort of experimentation in the first place. Urine should be frequent (q 2-3 hours) and light colored. Water can be toxic at high levels but if you are eating normally your kidneys sort most of this out. AGain, progression is the key. Keep upping your daily H20 Intake by say 16 or 24 oz / day until you find a level that allows you to go do some activity at which you think you'd normally get a headache.

Doesn't sound like you have enough time to sort this out before competition.


Sorry for all the typos...old keyboard, fast typist, faster thinker. Need to work on error rate.

All of this taken into consideration, things too tight on your head..hats, sunglasses, visors can all contribute. Tension can contribute...but these are rarely the primary cause rather only tip you over for someone who is prone.

Improving each of these things by 5% each may give you a 50% reduction in incidence...so it's worth minimizing any risk you can consider.

It is still trial and error even if you do a sweat test. If you're covered with white stuff after a run, take in more sodium. Conversely, maybe you've got a high salt diet in the first place and are just sweating out excess.

In general I try to find the lowest amount of added sodium and highest level of hydration that makes me feel awake, alert and headache free on a day to day basis and then extend that into workouts on a progressive pattern and keep detailed records of weight loss, fluid intake, sugar intake (what types) and sodium intake. It's not hard, just takes some detailed thinking.
2014-01-07 4:43 PM
in reply to: morey000


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Subject: RE: Headaches after long workouts?

I've dealt with this problem extensively in the past.

 

I too think the main culprit is dehydration - BUT it's not necessarily solvable immediately by drinking more and with salt.

 

At least for me, I almost always get this on my initial long runs/bikes. Even if I maximally hydrate and take in extra salt, to the point I'm peeing a storm, I still get them. I suspect part of it is fluid shifts from the CSF space (spinal cord space) that take awhile to re-equilibrate.

 


The good news is that with regular training, they tend to go away.

 

The other culprit that gets me early on as well is sun exposure, but it's less of a factor than the dehydration.

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