Advice Needed…

And a Confession…

Honestly, I have been writing this post in my head for several weeks. But it has taken me months to even get to the writing the post in my head part. I was never sure if I would actually post about this. Before I get to the advice part of the post, I need to provide some background.

You all know that I started to run off and on back in 2008… the off and on portion continued through 2009. Then in 2010, I started to actually track all of this running stuff (which has since evolved… totally different post). As such, I consider January 4, 2010 as the day I started to run.

Running went very well for me in that first year. In 2011, I had a number of set-backs that I had to deal with. I dealt with injury and failing to hit most of my goals and getting sick far too often. But I kept running.

What most people don’t know is that in the middle of 2011, I went on birth control as a way to combat some skin issues (Read really bad acne). It solved the skin issues but it caused a new issue.

Since going on the birth control, I have noticed that when I run, I tend to feel insanely nausea towards the end and after the run. I know I have mentioned often that my blood sugar tanks. Now, I am not a doctor so I am not positive if that is what is happening but the symptoms I experience seem to be in line with what a lot of diabetics feel when their blood sugar drops. Since diabetes is in my family history, I am aware that I may become diabetic at some point in my life but at this point in time, I am not.

Now, this feeling seems to ONLY happen when I run or have a very hard workout. Eating candy after the run sometimes will offset the nausea feeling to some degree but for the most part I just feel miserable once the runner’s high wears off. And really, I don’t WANT to have to eat candy after running. I have experimented with several different foods/drinks after running and nothing really makes the feeling go away completely but the candy does help… most often I just choose to feel miserable instead of eating candy.

When I first started to do long runs to prepare for my first half marathon, I noticed then that on the longer runs (usually 7 miles or more) I would get this same feeling. At the time, I wasn’t sure what it was but after one such run, I made myself an almond butter sandwich and felt instantly better. Hindsight, I probably needed mid-run fuel since I ran for more than hour but I was still such a novice that it didn’t occur to me. I never take mid-run fuel. Every time I have tried to my stomach cramps horribly and taking deep breathes usually becomes painful from the stomach cramps which makes running a race rather difficult. So I have since given up on mid-run fuel and stick with water only until the race is over.

I know a lot of people would disagree with that decision but I can run through feeling nausea but not the stomach cramping… so let’s move on

I started to notice, shortly after going on the birth control, that I would get that nausea feeling after pretty much every single run, even some of my runs that are less than two miles. Pace doesn’t seem to change whether this feeling happens or not either…

In trying to figure out what was going on, I analyzed my running in 2010 and my running now. Going on birth control is really the only change that happened. My diet is the same as when I started to run. In fact, I am still eating the same lunch I would eat back in 2010 when I took up running (mostly steamed veggies and whole wheat pasta with some parmesan cheese). Based on that, I have come to the conclusion that the birth control is doing this. My thoughts were further confirmed when a girlfriend told me that when she was on birth control, it would randomly make her feel nausea.

I have experimented a LOT with different foods (and beverages) before and after running and nothing seems to work. I have also tried eating at different intervals throughout the day and having a snack an hour before my run and that didn’t help either. Pizza does help (oddly) but I don’t want to eat pizza every day… well, ok fine, I do… but it’s not healthy.

Pretty much this entire year, in the background, I have been trying to find a solution outside of going off the birth control. I have essentially tried to keep this a secret for the most part. Not because I am embarrassed but… I don’t know… maybe I don’t want to look like I am making excuses.

I am kind of at my wits end here. I love running and I want to start to building a stronger base (has anyone noticed that I tend to max out my daily run at 2-3 miles… yea… this is why) and I want to do more 10 milers. I also have plans to run another half but this nausea feeling after I run is seriously affecting my training. At this point, It’s kind of like Pavlov’s dog – Run makes me feel like $hit for the rest of the evening. That feeling is now making it increasingly more difficult for me to get out the door to run. It is no secret that I have been running less over the past few weeks despite my 10 miler coming up. I miss running but every day when I consider going for a run I think about how I am going to feel after the run and I know that really $hitty feeling will be there and so I just don’t run

The only reason I am still on the birth control is because of the skin issues but at this point, I am starting to feel like this is affecting my running way too much and I just don’t like it. I have been just dealing with it but I cannot deny that it does affect my getting out there more often. Not only that, but it also affects my ability to strength train after… because really, once that nausea feeling takes over, I am pretty much done…. In fact, I usually end up crawling into bed a LOT earlier (well… earlier than normal) just to make the feeling go away.

So ladies, I am curious, do any of you have this issue? What did you do to combat the issue?

I intend to test my theory by going off the birth control for at least two months (I know it takes a while to work its way out of your system) and see if I am feeling better and if the skin issues return. My hope is that this will once and for all confirm or disprove my theory. And I am fairly certain that if the skin issue does not return that I will just stay off the birth control.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!


11 thoughts on “Advice Needed…

  1. So I just emailed my running Coach/good buddy Bill w/ a link to here. I’ll relay his feedback. Sounds like you need diabetic testing and I’m TELLING you need to take protein shakes before workouts and , you need to rehab your eating habits overall. You’re doing something wrong, it’s just a puzzle right now as to what exactly that is. Good luck! I’ll help you as much as I can. I hope my words aren’t too harsh here, I’m just concerned about you that’s all. Xoxox

    • Trust me – I know that I need fix my eating habits. And actually I have done diabetic testing… I know for sure that is not the issue (right now).

      I haven’t done protein shakes before a workout but I have tried other forms of protein before working out and it didn’t help. I just don’t know how I would do protein shakes at work…

      • A protein shake should be done approx 15-20 mins before you head out for a run. That way you have the time to make a pit stop before heading out the door. So most likely you’ll be at home 15mins before your run correct? On some longer runs (7-9 miles or more) I would do that plus eat my favorite “peanut butter banana toast” so I had enough fuel while I was out there so I wouldn’t pass out. It’s never been an issue for me. I’m also pretty OCD when it comes to GU gels. The second I pass mile 5, I take a GU (for energy and calories) if I’m doing 7 miles or more. But that’s just me.

        But getting back to your issue, Bill said he’ll give you his thoughts later when he has time. He mentioned dairy. Your dairy intake could be the key. Maybe you’re lactose intolerant? Back in 2011 Mike saw a nutritionist for a few months and he was on an elimination diet for 2-3 months. The first few weeks I did it with him as moral support and to just making cooking a hell of a lot easier. We learned a lot. The first 5 days or so I hated it, but then I started feeling awesome and we both got into it. Dairy is very complex and difficult for the intestines to handle. Period, end of story. So, you can try that as well. It’s tough, I won’t lie but if it helps, you’ll feel so much better. I’ll look for the paperwork that we had on the diet this weekend and if I find it, I’ll pass it on.

        Eating should be viewed as “fuel for your tank”. Eat well 80% of the time and the other 20%, have a little fun. Honestly, I wish I knew, what I know now when I was 20 years old. You’re trying, I know you are. And making post asking for help is a great step in solving this puzzle.

        And also, if you have Netflix, ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’ and ‘Food Matters’ are required viewing along with a few other food documentaries (that I can’t think of the titles off the top of my head) will change how you not only view eating but your life too. I’m not kidding. It cliché but knowledge is power.

  2. Can you switch to a different type of birth control? If you really think it is the issue, you may want to go off it and see if your running improves. If it doesn’t, then it’s something else.

  3. Hi Jennifer,

    I’m Bill, a running coach and a friend of Annie’s. First of all I’m sorry to hear about your nausea, but before you make changes in medication, I’ve got a few suggestions that might help you. Your nutrition for runs should work like this: a carbohydrate should be taken within 30 mins before your run. There are the various gels an energy bars that can give you energy when you run. For your shorter runs, this might be not necessary. but it might be useful for longer runs. You should not have protein before you run, they are hard to digest and make you feel sluggish. You should also avoid dairy which is also hard to digest and absorb into your stomach, and can cause nausea and vomiting. So avoid dairy before running. You can have Protein recovery after your run, That can be a protein shake, a protein bar, or even a turkey sandwich. This is all trial and error, but you can find something that will work.

    A lack of hydration or dehydration can cause nausea as well, so make sure you stay hydrated with liquids before you run. Also if hard efforts are making you feel nauseated, then it could mean you’re pushing too hard. Runs should be relaxed and easy, even long runs. Have confidence in your training and your training plans. If there is any doubt, then you should reconsider and see what training plan works for you.

    If you have any other questions, feel free to ask me.

    Bill Underwood

  4. I was on BC for a long time, but I don’t think I ever had the problem you did. But I did deal with stomach issues due to dairy (not just when I ran), and stopped drinking cow’s milk and that helped. So I wonder if it’s your diet and not the BC. But, if you think it is the BC, perhaps try another method. I was on the Nuva Ring for years, and since it’s not something you take orally, I wonder if that might not cause stomach issues (if that is what’s causing problems).

    However, for me personally, I went off of BC a few years ago because of other side effects and I didn’t like knowing that I had these synthetic hormones running through my body and “controlling” me. I did have bad acne for years, which went away when I was on BC and came back a little bit when I went off it, but it finally seemed to clear up on it’s own within the last few years. I also started washing my face less (only after working out or wearing make-up).

    Good luck! Hope you can find the culprit.

    • Thanks! Yea I am also not a big fan of the whole synthetic hormone thing… I also think America over medicates as well. I am not positive this is it but I figure it’s a good place to start.

  5. Pingback: Some Updates | It Never Gets Easier - You Just Get Better

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