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1661 Views 4 Replies Latest reply: Sep 19, 2013 2:34 AM by GabiA
MarniFowler Rookie 1 posts since
Jun 1, 2012
Currently Being Moderated

Sep 18, 2013 7:29 AM

Headaches from Overheating?

I am a new runner, old athlete.  I am 44 yo and in pretty good shape.  I've always been athletic but not good at endurance.  I was a sprinter in high school (200m) and did gymnastics up until my mid 20's.  When I started running last year, I could hardly run the length of 3 houses before feeling like I was going to pass out and puke.  I finally reached my goal of running 1 mile without stopping this spring but I having a hard time trying to get past that. I've been doing interval training and have been able to go  5k that way.  I feel like I can do a whole 5k without stopping - my lungs feel good, my legs are strong, but I get SO HOT!!!  I end up getting horrible headaches.  I live in Florida and have been training all summer and while sometimes I'm ok, most of the time I'm not.  I think the problem is I start to overheat.  My head feels so hot and its like I'm breathing in hot air. I can't get cool.  I sweat SO MUCH!! Its like someone is pouring warm water all over me and its running down my legs.  I hydrate extra plenty with lots of water and Gatorade on the days I'm going to be working out. I've treid taking an ibuprphen before workig out but that didn't really help either.  I have a towel to dry off and I bring a bottle of ice water that I am constantly pouring over my head to try to keep me cool. This is helpful when I'm in my class but not practical when I'm out on the road running.  I've tried those cooling bandanas but they didn't really do much for me.  I know its the humidity because when it was a little dryer last week (but still in the 90's), I didn't have any problems.


Hopefully fall is coming soon but in the meantime, is there anything else I can do or is that just my nature?  Will it get better as time goes on?  If there is any humidity out, I will drip sweat, even if I'm standing still. You'd think after living down here in the swamp for almost 30 years I'd get used to it.


Thanks from a transplanted Northerner -



Gainesville, Fl

  • BOSNPM We're Not Worthy 2,482 posts since
    Nov 20, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Sep 18, 2013 9:03 AM (in response to MarniFowler)
    Headaches from Overheating?

    Not a lot you can do, but here are a couple of things to think about:  Headaches are the 1st sign of heat sickness and taking ibuprofen before you run in those conditions is a very bad idea!  It is awful for your kidneys!  As a new runner you don't need to be doing hard interval training if it's run/walk you are okay, but if it's speed stuff stop it for now!  Slow down some that should help.  Another thing would be to run earlier or later in the day!  One other thing to remember is sweating is good if you stop you are in trouble.  It's getting better every day now,  your pace when it's hot needs to be slower!  This winter you should be able to go a little faster, but when summer comes back around you will need to slow down again!

  • shipo Legend 499 posts since
    Aug 9, 2013
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    2. Sep 18, 2013 9:19 AM (in response to MarniFowler)
    Re: Headaches from Overheating?

    A few comments:

    • It kind of sounds like you began running as an athlete instead of as a beginner (not at all surprising given your background), and that in turn means (to my way of thinking at least) that you're running too fast for your level of conditioning compared to the conditions you're running in.
    • I would avoid using any NSAID to try and mask the headache, said headache is your body's way of telling you that you're either overheated, dehydrated, or both.  Attempting to blunt the headache can potentially lead you to hyperthermia.
    • Running builds up heat in the body as fast if not faster than pretty much any other exercise you care to mention, and it takes a while for your body to teach itself how to dissipate all of that heat.  Case in point, I've been an endurance runner for over 40 year now, and as our New England winters turn to spring and then summer, I find my body initially struggling to cope with the heat built up in my core, this in spite of the fact that I consume as much as two to three gallons of water and tea per day.  Every year, I have to slow down and let my body adapt before I once again feel relatively comfortable running in high heat and humidity.
    • In years (like this one) which have had lots of high heat and humidity days, it takes even seasoned runners a while to adapt.  The good news is that once adapted; you will feel relatively more comfortable compared to the person next to you when you're not exercising.

    Fat old man PRs:

    • 1-mile (point to point, gravity assist): 5:50
    • 2-mile: 13:49
    • 5K (gravity assist last mile): 21:31
    • 5-Mile: 37:24
    • 10K (first 10K of my Half Marathon): 48:16
    • 10-Mile (first 10 miles of my Half Marathon): 1:17:40
    • Half Marathon: 1:42:13
  • JamesJohnsonLMT Legend 1,291 posts since
    Aug 23, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Sep 18, 2013 6:41 PM (in response to MarniFowler)
    Re: Headaches from Overheating?

    Really good advice from BOS and Shipo.. I agree that you will get better as time goes on, because you were a different kind of athlete than the one you are gradually becoming. Consider your second question answered.


    As to what you can do going forward, I have some additional advice. Shipo's experience with endurance training highlights one of the most important aspects of endurance running, which is proactive hydration. Think of all that water and tea, and how it is distributed around the clock. Running 5 kilometers or less, most of what you drink just before, or along the way, does not hit your system until you are done running. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to absorb that drink of water or Gatorade, and much longer for that H2O to find its way into the tissues of your muscles. The drink along the way helps more to satisfy your thirst and help you recover later, than it does to cool you off on these short runs.


    With apologies to the folks down in the birthplace of sports drinks, where you train, the commercials sometimes depict an effect of immediate hydration that is misleading. Being well hydrated so your tissues can sweat effectively, starts 24 hours or more before exercise. The better prepared you are the day before, the better your performance will be when it counts. The minerals and nutrition you need for that workout need to be in place before you start. My advice, based on this fact and your athletic history, is to refrain from any sugared drinks during these hot runs. The extra carbs will only jack up your metabolism and produce more waste heat. Stick to water during these relatively brief workouts, and make sure your diet the rest of the day is rich in vital minerals (electrolytes).


    Back in the day, you participated in fast-twitch sports that depended on a rapid conversion of stored sugar (glycogen) into energy. The key to success in endurance sports, on the other hand, is the gradual shift to fat-burning. There are two keys to transitioning from short-term bursts of energy to the type of slow-burn performance you need, and there is a time and a place for both. Intervals are still a helpful part of training the body to burn fat around the clock, but especially now, when it is hot outside, the long-slow-distance (LSD) training puts that process to work in a sustainable way.


    As the others pointed out, now is the time to match your speed to your conditions. Gradually, your body will learn to run cooler with greater efficiency, when that's all you ask it to do. Starting out at a pace much slower than you are capable of, you will give your body the chance to shift from burning sugar to mostly fat. This can take a half hour or so, which means you will not really get to the place you want to be until you are ready to go longer distances. Make those first few miles as slow as you can go, with the realization that the real training is yet to come. Gradually tack on those extra miles over the next few months, and your body will oblige by beginning the transition from short-distance runner to endurance athlete.


    Your account of the early experiments with running is like my own. I never thought distance was for me when I was younger, and started late with the same early disappointments. After a year or so, I was introduced to the Galloway method of distance training, the walk-run method, which is based on going much slower than potential. I was still capable of running fast, but my horizons for increased mileage expanded. Eventually I would compete in marathons, even qualifying for Boston, but it took years to get comfortable. My body had to change, and I am confident yours will, too.

  • GabiA Rookie 4 posts since
    Sep 18, 2013
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Sep 19, 2013 2:34 AM (in response to MarniFowler)
    Re: Headaches from Overheating?

    I tend to get headaches after my long runs. I found that if I take Dioralyte (or any rehydration saches) before I set out for a run and keep hydrating as normal during and after my run, I don't get the headaches anymore.

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