Monday, September 10, 2012

Reactive Hypoglycemia and Running

Back in June, I found out I am a reactive hypoglycemic. And the way I found out was super scary. The experience included me passing out in a public place, vomiting on a super cute guy who smelled like an angel (yes, that was necessary to tell you), hitting my head on the concrete floor and making my mom drive to Little Rock at 2:30 in the morning. Could I be any more dramatic?

Y'all I can't make this up. It was scary. We had no idea what was going with me. And then I sat through the longest blood glucose test, almost puked on a nurse, cried my eyes out, and then went home and took a four hour nap. Yep, it happened.

After my diagnosis, I felt better because I knew I could control it somewhat. It's the type of hypoglycemia that is controlled by diet. So I moved from 2-3 meals a day to 5-7 small meals a day. And it worked. I feel good. I do.

But half marathon training has changed my body once again. I am now burning more calories because I am running regularly again. More running means more food. And I proved this to myself last night after my weekly long run.

I ran 4 miles last night. I've done it before and felt fine. But yesterday was strange.
Here are my stats (which I wasn't too excited about):
Distance: 4.0 miles
Time: 51:14
Best Pace: 10:14
Average Pace: 12:49
Calories: 407

The first two miles were golden. No pain. Nothing out of the ordinary. The last two miles were mentally and physically terrible. And I couldn't really pinpoint why.

I noticed my vision seemed a little watery, but I didn't think anything of it because it's that time of year for minor allergies. So I ran on. When I finished I felt some shortness of breath, but I thought it was just because I'd lost a lot of fitness.

I called my mom on my way home to lament over my terrible time. I use to be so much faster. I couldn't believe that this was the time I use to run 5 miles. How did I lose one whole mile?

Instead of going straight home, I went to Kroger to get some stuff to make a veggie pizza. When I was checking out I noticed I was having a hard time focusing on the stickers on my produce. It took a lot of concentration to get those typed into the register. (I always self check out....just easier.)

By the time I got home, the peripheral vision in my right eye was blurry and looked a lot like the black and white fuzzy screen on a TV. And that was when I realized I was having a hypoglycemic episode.

So I drank a small glass of milk. And within five minutes my vision was fine. But I knew I had to eat something fast. The whole time I prepared my pizza was a mental battle. I couldn't focus. It was like I knew what I needed to do, but I had to concentrate so hard to do it.

I had a 10 minute wait for my pizza to cook. So I ate some chips and drank some water. Then suddenly a severe headache took over. Sharp, stingy pains. I ate half of my pizza. Drank more water. Felt super sick. Like I was going to throw up. My head and stomach ached, and I was freezing.

I ran a hot bath. And just laid in the tub. I had no energy. And I was super sleepy. Just felt like blah.

And then I started to feel better.

All of this happened over the course of an hour. The onset of symptoms, the meal and recovery time took one excruciatingly painful hour. By 10 p.m. I was completely back to normal. No vision problems. No nausea. No headache. No stomach pains. No lack of concentration. Still tired, but basically normal.

Life Lesson Learned: Eat more before a long run. Eat something right after a long run. Eat a well-balance dinner after the post run snack. Always wear that dang ID bracelet (which I forgot to put on before the run).

Additional notes: Always tell someone where you are going to run. I called my mom and the roommate. I always tell the roommate, but now it's even more important that she knows where I choose to run if she's not there with me. If I had had a full hypoglycemic episode, I couldn't have told her where I was.

This is serious stuff. And I am taking it serious. It's so crazy how my body reacts to stuff now. And it's scary how fast it can happen.

I kind of hate it. I wish my body would burn sugar like a normal person. It's one of those things I have to be constantly watching. I don't have to take my blood sugar, which is a good thing because I'd pass out every time I had to prick my own finger. But it's still super frustrating.

If you are like me and need some support, please let me know. I would love to talk to you about it.

And for my family who is reading this and probably freaking the eff out, please try not to worry. My number one goal is to be healthy and smart about running. I love running and want to run this half marathon. And I will do it. I just have to be smart about what I eat and when I eat.

Little Rock friends/runners, who wants to run with me?

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Tell me about it.

12 comments:

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    1. I've always been the type of runner who never got the runner's high, and I think it's because of the reactive hypoglycemia. I was always so tired when I finished any run. No matter the mileage. I definitely think running affects my blood sugar level. Running uses so much glucagon, and I use to run in the mornings before breakfast (bad idea) so I was just worn out all the time. I've found eating something with carbs and protein two hours before any run and eating a Honey Stinger waffle 20 minutes before helps me a whole lot. I also eat Sports Beans every three miles during long runs. Right after I finish I eat an apple for complex sugar and carbs. I've found apples don't upset my stomach like other fruits. And I throw in some chocolate milk once I get home. Then I try to eat a meal within the hour after I finish. I've just found this is what works for me. And you could be different. But there is a special balance that your body can reach with the food you use to fuel your runs. I hope this helps you. I'm so glad you shared your story with me. It's nice to know other people are out there dealing with hypoglycemic issues and their running.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Peanut butter is definitely one of my favorite things. Ive tried to move to the more natural options of peanut butter, but I don't cut the calories. The fat of peanut butter slows down my sugar break down and it helps me remain stable. I cleaned up my diet a lot when I found I was hypoglycemic. I cut out a lot of processed and fast food options. And I have seen a noticeable difference in how I feel. I eat lots of veggies and fruit, and I try to stay away from refined sugar as much as I can. I'm sure you already know these tricks, but the clean eating could help you with the slower metabolism. You may need to eat more than you have been so your body can compensate for all the extra exercise.

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  3. Wow. Thank you for your post. I should print it and show it to my dr as what you described from the blurry vision to headaches, tiredness and feeling like an icicle describe what I haven't been able to explain to my dr. Thank you for sharing--it was definitely much needed information!

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  4. I too am severely reactive hypoglycemic..I am just starting to run and trying to learn what to eat for this new adventure in my life.. thank you for your info ..:)

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  5. I too am severely reactive hypoglycemic..I am just starting to run and trying to learn what to eat for this new adventure in my life.. thank you for your info ..:)

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  6. I seem to have something similar. However, before eating a low-GI meal like a veggie pizza or anything high in carbs/protein etc. I suggest get some sugar in you immediately. This is because your body requires energy simply to digest, so provide it with that quick boost before the main meal and it will sort you out fast.

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  7. thanks for this post. I've had so many issues with hypoglycemia and running, my doctors recommended I only do lighter workouts and keep it in the gym. I do a lot of hiking (with a lot of high protein snacks and I never go alone) and have been able to do 36 mile hikes with no episodes. but with running I still have problems, sometimes even just a mile on the treadmill and I'll be shaking and losing my vision. I really want to run long distance so I'm hoping these tips work for me as well.

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  8. Thanks for your post! I too am a runner and have just been diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia though in hindsight have had it for quite awhile. Never passed out but came pretty darn close. A blessing that it can be controlled by diet. And a healthy diet too. The way we all should eat. A curse and a gift all in one.

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  9. Hello,

    I too am in Little Rock and I have reactive hypoglycemia. I do pretty good at running one mile without problems as long as I eat before and after but would like to push myself to run a 5k. I had a duh moment on Saturday, after I had run I didn't eat enough after and I should have known to eat more but I didn't. On Sunday my blood sugar levels felt completely off and I have a lot less energy. Do you have problems after you run with your levels and energy being off? Thanks for your post.

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  10. Hello,

    I too am in Little Rock and I have reactive hypoglycemia. I do pretty good at running one mile without problems as long as I eat before and after but would like to push myself to run a 5k. I had a duh moment on Saturday, after I had run I didn't eat enough after and I should have known to eat more but I didn't. On Sunday my blood sugar levels felt completely off and I have a lot less energy. Do you have problems after you run with your levels and energy being off? Thanks for your post.

    ReplyDelete