There are some crazy things that can and do happen to your body after a run. Sure you might feel awesome, refreshed and full of energy too but these aren’t those things. There are some of the not so great or even scary things but rest assured they are normal things. Often times they are also unpleasant things you can change so read on. Don’t worry you’re not dying and you’re not alone!
I feel like this maybe happened to me when I first started running but that was a long time ago now. Honey’s daughter and I occasionally go running together and this one gets her big time. Chances are you are clenching your jaw as you go. Try not to do that! One option is to flare out the back of your tongue between your upper and lower teeth as you go. Then if you clench it hurts and you’ll stop. Problem solved!
This one is muti-pronged and can be caused by a few different things. First is that jaw thing from above that can also lead to a headache so try the tongue tip. Another is a slight (not dangerous) oxygen deprivation. You use lots of oxygen when you’re working out leaving your body with a little less than your used to and that can lead to a headache. As you get used to your new routine these headaches will go away with time. You could dial back the intensity for a bit too but it’s probably unnecessary. Most likely your headache is caused by slight dehydration come home drink lots of water or even better chug along the way. It might seem like a big effort to carry water as you go but trust me it’s worth it. Starting to carry water with me was one of the key things to actually make me like running!
The taste of blood
Another one that my occasional run buddy regularly suffers from is a metallic or blood taste after a run. And it can definitely be an “oh god, am I dying?” symptom. It’s actually no big deal though it’s because a few of your red blood cells popped but don’t worry you have extra. Physical exertion can cause a few red blood cells to become leaky and release iron containing heme which makes that funny taste appear in your mouth. The cool thing though this goes away entirely after a few workouts and those sessions prompt your body to make even more red blood cells than you started with increasing your overall oxygen carrying capacity.
Last summer I saw a t-shirt that said “triathlon that fine line between fun and vomit” and I was like. “yup that is 104% accurate!” One brick workout last year I forgot my water for the bike and wanted to take lots of walk breaks but that just made me feel sicker so a light jog it was. Any workout that qualifies as very strenuous for you can make you feel and actually be sick. This is compounded by poor life choices the day before but I digress. This actually is a sign that you might be pushing too hard, intense nausea or actually being sick is a good reason to end a workout early. A bit on nausea, well unpleasant is par for the corse sometimes especially if you’re new to running or upping your intensity. It’s caused by the fact that while you’re exercising your body diverts blood flow away from your digestive system and to your muscles. Divert too much blood for too long and it might make you feel icky. PS I only actually thew-up once during a timed swim during lifeguard training as a teen but also the night before was a factor. I think I did make time that day, it would have been too embarrassing not to!
I still get bouts of coughing after a really intense run, sometimes it can make you feel out of shape or like you’re sick to others but you’re not. It’s caused by a phenomenon known as bronchoconstriction which is fancy speak for spasms in the muscles surrounding your lungs as your breathing rate increases or slows down after exercise. I usually suffer after I stop but sucking on a lozenge helps if you are affected while running. It’s a thing and there’s not much you can do about it but the harder the workout the more intense it is and the longer it lasts in my experience the worse it is. Cold weather seems to make it worse too.
All that extra breathing induces your nose to produce more mucus and so you get a runny nose even when it’s not that cold out. Your nose is built to filter out irritants, germs and particles that’s what the hairs and the snot are mostly there for. As your breathing rate increases so too does your snot level, mmm sexy! It’s made worse by actual particles in the air like, dust, pollutants and pollen so even if allergies aren’t something you suffer from pollen season can make it worse. No real way to fix it but if its really bothering you you can talk to your pharmacist or doctor about a nasal spray. Just take some tissues with you or practice your snot rocket. Hot tip paper towel stands up to the motion of running and softens up as you go.
Exercise induced Urticaria is the name for this one and it basically mimics an allergic creation in the skin. It can even raise hives. The right outfit choice for your body, pants over shorts or vice versa, loose or tight might help. Usually tight clothing wins in terms of performance, if you’re self conscious just add a loose layer on top! It also seems to be worse if your skin is dry so get in the habit of moisturizing after your shower. Thighs seem to be particularly affected overall but it can strike anywhere. This is a thing and you are not actually allergic to exercise, so don’t try that one on me! You might also feel itchy as all that salty sweat dries on your skin afterwards. Shower or endure the dry down it goes away eventually.
Honey’s daughter also suffered from hand cramps and forearm soreness after a run which is a weird thing to be affected by running right? This happens from clenching your hands into tight fists as you run. Fix it by imagining that you are gently transporting a butterfly wing or potato chip as you bounce along. In general try to relax most parts of your body as you run it goes a long way to fixing the weird things you might feel after.
This one is a bit tricky because unless you’re first starting out it’s something to take seriously. If you’ve just run your fastest or longest run in a while you might also feel dizzy or have a general brain fog after a run. Dizziness or brain fog is most often caused by glycogen depletion which is the brain’s go to second source for glucose which is it’s preferred fuel source. This is why you might feel stupid after your long runs too. If that’s the case don’t make any big life choices in this state. Running in the heat or dehydration can contribute to this too. If you’re first starting out a low level of oxygen deprivation can make this worse. If you feel dizzy during your workout drink some water. If that doesn’t help call the workout. Lower your pace to return home and take as many walk breaks as you need.
You gotta go
Remember that physical activity diverts blood from your intestines and to your muscles well that blood flow returns when you stop. That might send you running again this time to the loo. Add lots of water ingested along the way which makes it worse, but it might be number 1 or number 2. Not much you can do about this if you experience it habitually other than plan ahead for the urge.
Maybe even chest pain
This is IMPORTANT! I struggled with whether to include this as normal or not because it can be a REALLY BIG DEAL! One thing people don’t realize is that active people can actually have more bouts of chest pain than sedentary people at any age and fitness level. Holding tension in your chest, leaning funny for a long time or being too tense can cause chest pain after a run. If it ebbs and flows as you hold your breath with full or empty lungs than it’s way less likely to be a heart issue but rather has something to do with the intercostal muscles surrounding your ribs. If it’s centered on your left side, you have shooting pains down your arm or you feel very sick it might be heart pain so get checked out. I often find I get intense pain I my sternum after cycling which can get to freak out level. Leaning back and making my shoulder blades touch a few times makes it hurt more at first and then drop off confirming that it’s just a hunched over muscle thing.
Running after a cold or flu can cause chest pain, so can running after a party night. If you experience chest pain after a run and logically you are otherwise healthy, young and there is no real reason you might be having a heart attack. Chill, calm down, take deep breaths and it will likely get less intense and pass quickly. If however your work yourself up into a panic attack it might get worse. Take your pulse, if its slow and regular take comfort. Chances are pretty dang good you’re fine, but if there is any doubt get it checked out. If you present with chest pain at the hospital you’ll get in right away. If however you are over 45, overnight, you have high cholesterol or blood pressure take it more seriously. Still take deep breaths and all that but you should take it seriously and get checked out. You know your body best and don’t be afraid to get checked, better safe than sorry!
I occasionally get chest pain after a workout or run. Sometimes it freaks me out and sends me googling. This December I was desperate for a run even though I wasn’t fully back from a bad cold. It was necessary at the time though to keep my never murdered anyone streak going. I went anyway and I had bad chest pain for hours after. It totally got to me and made me wonder is this it? for a brief moment, also googling, lots of data that day! Chances are it was a mild bout of pericarditis (inflammation of the heart lining) made worse by a run from a viral respiratory infection. Pericarditis is actually pretty common after a cold and most people never even knew they had it. The pain associated with it can mimic a heart attack and that day I did briefly consider heading to the ER. Instead I took a step back, I was 35 in the shape of my life, triathlon shape. I’m a vegetarian with great blood cholesterol, low-normal blood pressure and I have no other symptoms. The chances I’m having a heart attack are slim, the chances that I have mild pericarditis after a cold and a hard run in freezing temperatures is pretty high. Calm the eff down! Give it a minute, it will probably get better if not freak out later. It subsided around noon and so far I’ve made it through since then. Which is to say if you have concerns get checked out but take comfort in the fact that chest pain sometimes happens to healthy, active people too!
Which of these things have you experienced? Was it just when you started or did they continue forever? What other weird but normal things happen to you after a run?