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A Hard Workout and Getting Sick

Let me preface this blog by saying if you prefer not to read about people getting sick, stop reading and go listen to this awesome new workout song I found. It’s much more entertaining. Although not my favorite video, the song gets me pumped up and running a little faster. Maybe that’s why I’m writing about puking and working out. And I digress…

For the past two weeks my fabulous friend Emily has been meeting me Tuesday mornings for speed workouts. Last week we were on the track, but today it was locked so we made the most out of a long straight road on NC State’s campus. My planned workout was to to do 8 X 600 with 200 meters recovery in preparation for a 5K this weekend. Well after a 7.4 mile run in 85% humidity followed by a one hour high intensity interval class at HEAT studios yesterday, 600 meters seemed like 2 miles and the leg turnover just wasn’t there. During last week’s workout, I could maintain around a 5:45 pace and it felt tolerable and not too difficult. This morning? Yeah, different story completely. Although the distance was a little longer and there were some slight inclines, I was happy to do an interval sub 6:00. And the 600 meters were more like 400 meters. But thanks to my new workout music (here is my other new song), I was determined to find my limit. Six repeats in, and I think I came close to finding it. Although I didn’t actually puke (maybe because I hadn’t eaten since last night), I was having some serious gag reflexes. It was the closest I had ever come to getting sick from exerting so much effort, and I felt like I earned a badge of honor. (Yes, I got sick in Boston, but that was due more to hydration issues and the heat). I couldn’t wait to tell Emily. She gave me a high five.

Anyway, it led me to my question today…

Why do people get sick when working out really hard?

This article on explains that getting sick can come from four things:
1) Dehydration
2) Heat Exhaustion
3) Vagal Reaction
4) Hyponatremia

Personally, I didn’t feel like I belonged in any of these four categories so I kept looking. This article, which describes contestants on The Biggest Loser puking while working out, sums up how I felt today: “you’re overexerting yourself for your current level of fitness.” Yep. That sounds about right. It goes on to explain that as your muscles start to demand more oxygen, blood supply is diverted from its normal route and towards the muscles in need of oxygen. As a result, there is less blood flow to other organs such as the kidneys, liver, stomach, and intestines. This can make you nauseous or even make you puke. I guess there wasn’t enough blood getting to my digestive system this morning.

I’m sure some people say I’m crazy for thinking this is a good thing. However, I’ve been really motivated lately, especially in watching the Olympic Trials. You may say pushing yourself so hard is a bad thing, but I say it’s how I come closer to finding my limits.

Here is my run today:
Warm up with repeats, recovery, and easy jog with Em
Two more miles once I drove back home

AND since there has been so much about the positive effects of beet juice in the news lately, and my G+ friend Otto mentioned Ryan Hall is also touting the benefits, I went shopping this morning…

Yay for Earth Fare having beet juice!!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amy #

    Congratulations on pushing yourself to your limit!

    I always feel incredibly nauseous immediately after finishing 5-K’s (I hate when a volunteer has to tear my chip off because I’m always afraid I’m going to puke on them), but never during. I heard it had something to do with blood flow, but this makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the great information as always!

    June 26, 2012
    • YES! That is why I never like racing 5Ks – they are so uncomfortable. I’d much rather spend hours running than 20 minutes at a really fast pace. Glad to know someone else thinks the same way I do, with 5Ks and beer =)

      June 26, 2012
  2. Jessica #

    This is me the last 10th of mile every time I race….“you’re overexerting yourself for your current level of fitness.”… sounds about right for me…haha I just assumed everyone got side stitches and nausea when they run 🙂 Looks like I have a long way to go 🙂 I’m doing the 5 mile in Roxboro…Looking forward to it!!

    June 26, 2012
    • You’re just kicking butt that last tenth of a mile!!! It’s what happens when you work so hard =) The Roxboro race should definitely be a good time. I’m just hoping it isn’t too hot!! We are doing a 5K this Saturday. Interested in joining us? We are making posters and having dinner after our run Thursday night. Mario and the guys are coming to cheer us on at the race. Hope to see you soon!! Let me know if you want to hang out during the week – I’m on break!!! XOXO

      June 26, 2012

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