Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Running makes me nauseous.

If this blog post sounds familiar it's because I've written about it in a previous post and I'm still looking for a solution. My nausea creeps in at about mile 14 to 16 and then, by mile 18 to 20, it becomes unbearable and impacts my performance. During last Saturday's 20 miler the wave of nausea became so intense I had to stop at mile 18 and wait, hands on knees, for about a minute for the wave to pass. It's the nausea, not the 26.2 miles, that is my biggest race day fear. I've GOT to do something about it!
According to
Dr. Lindsay Weight here are 7 possible causes to running nausea: 1) too little glucose, 2) too much glucose, 3) too little fluid, 4) too much fluid, 5) too little blood supply in the gut, 6) too much movement, 7) sheer effort. The trick is to find the cause, or combinations of causes. Here a thumbnail sketch of the possible causes (with thanks to Dr. Lindsay Weight).
Too Little Glucose:
The most common cause of running nausea is a decrease of glucose in the blood, aka hypoglycemia or low blood-sugar. It usually occurs in runners at the 2 hour mark who have not ingested enough carbohydrates (the body converts glucose -the fuel for muscles- from carbohydrates). Runners can only store enough carbohydrate in their body for the first 2 hours of a marathon, after that, we're running on empty unless we replenish carbohydrates as we run. Symptoms include nausea, light head, poor concentration, and a rapid decline in speed. In running jargon, you've hit the wall.
Too Much Glucose:
Ingesting fluids containing carbohydrate at a rate faster than it can be consumed by the stomach. The stomach is a small organ and can hold the equivalent of one can of pop. If you consume fluids faster that the stomach can cope, the fluid backs up your esophagus into your throat and out the mouth... vomit!
Too Little Fluid:
It's not unusual for marathoners to experience mild dehydration. Runners tend to lose between 700 and 1500 ml of water through sweat every hour. It's very difficult to drink more than 800 ml of water an hour so some water loss is inevitable. Losing 2 to 3% of your body mass through sweating is not a huge deal and shouldn't effect your performance. Losing between 4 and 5% constitutes dehydration and will effect your performance and may cause nausea. Losing over 5% of your body weight through sweat is dangerous and will shut you down mighty fast. The solution? Drink between 150 and 200 ml every 15 minutes. If you lose a 1000 ml of water an hour and only consume 200 ml every 15 minutes you're still left with a 200 ml water deficit per hour, or 800 ml over the course of a 4 hour marathon, but at least the dehydration is in the safe zone and shouldn't impact performance or cause nausea. Remember, 150 to 200ml every 15 minutes, the equivalent of 3 big gulps of water... GULP, GULP, GULP/ 15 minutes.
Too Much Water: This is a very rare condition which has been grossly exaggerated and hyped over the last several years. Too much water dilutes your sodium levels and will cause severe nausea. It's more common in inexperienced walkers.
Too little blood supply in the gut: Even if you're well hydrated the amount of blood going to your stomach is reduced because the blood supply is diverted to the big leg muscles. Over the course of several hours of running the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the stomach is greatly reduced. To make matters worse, the stomach does not take kindly to hours and hours of liquid intake with no solids. The abuse to the stomach can cause nausea; think of it as a punch in the gut.
Too much motion: The up and down motion of the head can cause a form of motion sickness. The solution is to practice running efficiently;
Sheer effort:
Running puts the body under metabolic stress. The higher the intensity or the longer the duration the more stress and the more likely you are to feel nauseous as your system is overwhelmed by the demands placed on it.
Now for the self-diagnosis.... I think my nausea is caused by a combination of three things: 1) too little glucose (hypoglycemia), 2) to a lesser extent, too little water (dehydration), 3) and gels (yuck... just the thought of them makes me wretch!). If I had to choose only one possible cause, I'd be picking hypoglycemia. It just seems to fit my profile. The solution? ... consume more carbohydrates (other than gels) during the race and do a better job of carb loading the week leading up to the race. In addition, be more aware of dehydration creep. Drink three big gulps of liquid every 15 minutes during a race, and finally, leave the bloomin' gels at home. I need to find a replacement for the gels; something that will give me a quick burst of carbs but won't destroy my stomach (power bars? sports drinks?). I have four more long training runs before the MB full marathon so I'll give it a try. Here's hoping for a solution!
Good luck to everyone running the Cops for Cancer race this Sunday. I'll see you at the start line. Let's getter done!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hill Training at Westview Park (aka Garbage Hill)

We had a great hill training session last evening at Garbage Hill. Dr. Dean Kriellaars led the group through a series of dynamic workout routines and series of hill workouts. Dean is a exercise psychologist and operates the Human Performance Lab at the Winnipeg Health Science Centre. I've been running Garbage Hill for 6 years (7?) and have never varied my routine (slow jog up, slow jog down...). It was interesting to learn about the different trails on the hill and the different drills and their purpose. It was a great workout, best in a while.
Kriellaars says "Becoming a stronger runner is getting rid of your weaknesses more than making your strengths stronger." This pearl of wisdom bears consideration. After training and running for about 6 years I realized I was in a bit of a running-rut. I was a good runner, a strong runner, but I wasn't improving. I felt I was at the top of my game and the only way to improve my times was to change it up, to move out of my comfort zone, or, as Krielaars says, to get rid of my weaknesses. Briefly, for the locals, there are 7 different trails or "elements" to the hill:
  1. Loop: o.5 miles, up roadway from gate, around the cul-de-sac, return to gate (this is the most common element of the hill).
  2. Hump: 1.0 mile, up roadway from gate over crest of hill, down gravel path to back entrance (past the gate).
  3. Lump: 0.91 miles, approach steep hill past 3 yellow poles, ascend steep hill and continue up smaller hill on the gravel path to left, run along flat path towards the cul-de-sac, keep left and run on dirt single track toward toboggan slide at north end, descend toboggan slide and the up the small hill at the back fence, veer right back along gravel path and ascend gradual hill to cul-de-sac, then descend the roadway back to starting point.
  4. Grind: 0.24 miles, approach steep hill past 3 yellow poles, ascend the steep hill and continue up smaller hill on the gravel path to the left, shortly after reaching peak turn left down a set of 2 switchbacks to small dirt trail returning to start.
  5. Triangle: Approach steep hill past 3 yellow poles, ascend the steep hill and then continue up smaller hill and then veer right past the stone blocks, descend path at blocks and then turn right onto small dirt path to starting point to starting point.
  6. Bowtie: Approach steep hill past 3 yellow poles, ascend the steep hill and then veer right to stone blocks, descend path at blocks, turn left onto smaller dirt path, ascend next upward trail and return to stone blocks, descend path and then turn right on dirt path to yellow poles and ascend main steep hill.
  7. Snake: A series of switchbacks leading from the top of main steep hill to the north end along trails and return.
The first four elements seem to fit my needs. Whichever element you choose be absolutely sure you're suitably warmed up before hitting the hills. I'm hoping to hill train at least once per week between now and June. At this point, Tuesdays or Wednesdays seem to work well. Call me if you'd like to join me. Happy trails.
Thank you Dean Kriellaars for the great workout. It was as intense as it was motivating. Just what the doc ordered!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Back at 'er

It's been six weeks since the blown calf at the Hypo and I've only just returned to running in the last ten days. I've put on a few pounds (7 to be precise) and I've lost some speed and endurance, but I'm feeling the mojo returning... slowly.
To recap my run history since that fateful day in February: I've managed a very icy 9 miler which was completely brutal, a 4 miler in downtown Toronto, a 5 mile run home from work on Thursday, and a 7 miler today. That's 25 miles in 6 weeks! Hardly a recipe for successful marathon training, but -call me nuts- I'm still on track for the Police Half and the MB full. I'm joining a group at City Park tomorrow morning for an 18 miler (gulp... 18 miles seems like such a long haul) so well see how things pan out. My 4 hour marathon goal has all but faded and you know what? I don't give a hoot. I've realized, thanks to some good advice from David, that sometimes the goals can work against your performance. To quote David, my next marathon goal is to just "getter done".
It's good to be back in the drivers' seat after 6 weeks of blog slacking. Cheers all.. it really is a good day to be alive!
Here's to getten 'er done.
PS The Minneapolis- St. Paul Marathon registration starts Friday, April 17. If you're planning on going, act super fast, because all 14,000 entries will be snapped up in a couple of days.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Runner Slain in Vancouver

Wendy Ladner-Beaudry, a mother of two children, was killed while out for a daily run in Vancouver's West End on Friday morning (go here).The police are not releasing any information except to say that it appears she was attacked from behind. Her bloodied body was found by hikers later the same day. She was running along a trail in Pacific Spirit Park which winds through some of Vancouver's most valuable real-estate. Those of you who know Vancouver can appreciate the lure of these beautiful trails lined with 500 year old cedar trees.
Wendy was very active in the world of sport and most recently was involved with spearheading an organization which encourages women immigrants from Africa to become more involved in fitness programs. Wendy believed if she could get low-income mothers involved in sports they would be more inclined to encourage their children to follow their example. Wendy was 53 years old. Sounds like the world lost another good soul.
She didn't tell me how to live; she lived, and let me watch her do it.
Clarence Budington Kelland
Be careful out there. Be smart, but don't be fearful.
:>( M