Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beyond Bonking- Scary

A year ago at this time, I weighed a lot. More than I have in a very long time. I needed to lose a lot. I think I have these numbers right. I think I lost 25 by November 15 or so. Running started getting good then. I gained 5-10 back by February 15 or so. Lost 20 in past 5 weeks by eating 800-1,000 calories most days. You don't have to tell me that's dumb. I know it is. I'll spare you the issues of control, "all or nothing" mentality, and long term relationship I've had with food. But I know better than to try to lose that much that quickly. I tell my team all the time all about the importance of food as fuel and why you need to eat for performance.

This past Saturday, I ran a routine 12 miles with Shannon. I'd eaten a Powerbar and a medium sized dinner the day before and that's all. Nothing Saturday morning. I got to about 11 miles feeling fine & then all of the sudden, I started having trouble seeing, the trail "moved" from side to side, and I was super dizzy. I was sure I would pass out. I think I grabbed onto a tree. I had already fallen twice in the run, but I don't think that was connected. Maybe. I convinced Shannon I was OK and we finished up the last mile in silence. I was close to passing out and honestly, was just waiting until I got back to the parking lot/bathrooms/water area before I dropped. Shannon went to her car to get her phone or something. I vaguely remember walking behind the bathrooms and the next thing I knew, Shannon was over me. She said she had been there for 2 minutes and it could've taken her about 2 more minutes to find me. I may have been out for 4-5 minutes. I am positive I passed out because of no food. Like a mega-bonk.

I figured that was an isolated incident and told myself I just needed to change my eating habits, but it lasted longer than expected. I felt terrible all day. I was going to cook dinner, and knew what I wanted to make but stared at the pantry for 5 minutes before giving up. I simply couldn't think of what to do. Sunday was worse. ZERO energy. ZERO brain function. I could hardly get a single coherent sentence out all day. I stayed in bed for the most part until 8 PM! I'd get up, get confused and get back in bed. Not really to sleep, just to avoid having to think and function. I really felt dumb. Shannon texted me to ask how much she should run Monday. It took me 2 hours maybe to think "6 miles would be good." I weighed all kinds of options in my feeble mind to come to that brilliant conclusion.

Monday was better and I went to work but felt foggy. Today was better than that but I don't feel 100%. I went to the doctor this afternoon and he told me the drop in blood sugar &/or blood pressure could've been so severe that my brain and the rest of my body just shut down. I haven't really bonked more than once or twice since 2000-2003, when I was training for triathlons and I remember feeling bad for a couple of days afterwards, but nothing like this. I was really incapable of much thought or movement for 36 hours. Luckily, the doctor said the effects would be temporary, but still pretty scary. They did an EKG & blood work. Results from blood will be back in a couple of days. EKG looked good. Resting heart rate of 36. He said that was the record low he's ever seen in a healthy person & I felt like saying, "If I was so healthy, I wouldn't be here." I also got another kind of antibiotic & inhaler for the month-long bronchitis I still have.

Some of my runners are really concerned & tell me I need to take a break from running- that I need to get my eating under control & take care of myself. One told me if I can't get through 12 miles without passing out, I can't consider doing more. It makes sense, but I'm committed to continuing and having a great 24 hour run in a week & a half. I just need to be smarter than I am. I tried to lose the weight to improve my running. Now that it's having a negative effect on it and potentially serious effect on my overall health, I'll eat what I need. I haven't been able to run what I want to the past month because of the bronchitis, but I've run enough to call it a "taper," and my running before that was good. I've been able to get in 30-40 miles/week this past month for most weeks, but nothing longer than a 12 mile run. 100 mile week the week before. I think I'll be OK as long as the bronchitis passes and I fuel myself to run.

People always say, "Listen to your body." Mine never says much to me but it was yelling this time! Maybe this was a teachable moment for the team.


Anonymous said...

BE VERY CAREFUL with your body Coach. A lot of people depend on you.

Jason said...

you're walking on the line bro. be careful. I've been in the same situation (about 5 months ago)and I kept running. I would encourage you to run with people or around people for a while if you're gonna keep doing it. Hope to see you at black mt.