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Extreme drowsiness late on in marathon? (Read 610 times)

J2R


    I ran my fastest ever marathon on Sunday in Frankfurt, and got my dream target time, but the last 4 miles or so were utterly grim because of something strange going on with my brain. Here's how I described it in another thread:

     

    "I had carb loaded very meticulously for a couple of days before, but something went wrong, either with the carbohydrates or the hydration, because for the last 3-4 miles I was feeling increasingly, oppressively drowsy, overpoweringly sleepy, making me just want to lie down on the road and go asleep. It was the strangest and most unpleasant experience - by the end I felt almost unconscious, and all the time I had to just tell my legs to keep going, whatever my brain was doing. I hardly knew where I was at the end - I just knew that I'd got my target time."

     

    It happened once before to me late on in a marathon, but much less seriously than this time (and later on). At the time I put it down to nutrition, not having had that gel I should have done at 20 miles. I thought it was a curious manifestation of 'the wall', which, fortunately, I've never run into in its normal guise. This time, though, because I'd carb loaded well, and because I'd got in gels earlier and was knocking back jelly babies (like jelly beans in macabre baby form), it didn't seem so likely that this was the cause, and my suspicion was dehydration instead. At the water stations they only had plastic cups quarter full of water, which I was not able to drink while running (I normally try to pinch the cup into a shape which allows me to slug it all down in one, but these cups just splintered), and I think I probably build up a fluid shortage (which may, in fact, have been made worse by the gels/ jelly babies).

     

    I'd dearly love to avoid ever having this happen again and I'm wondering whether this experience is familiar to anyone, and if so, have you pinpointed what it's caused by. If I knew whether it was nutrition, or hydration, I may be able to prepare a bit better.


    I'm back!

      Sounds a lot more like a bonk than dehydration to me.

      J2R


        Sounds a lot more like a bonk than dehydration to me.

         

        But what was surprising was that I actually sped up towards the end. Wouldn't it be odd if this 'bonk' did not cause me to slow down?

          I think the marathon can be as challenging mentally as physically. It's one thing to keep going and not bonk, but that doesn't remove the mental challenge of not just wanting it to be over so you can stop running and sit down. I don't think what you experienced is all that strange. 

          R2E


          "run" "to" "eat"

            i used to get very sleepy when running, but now my asthma is better controlled that doesn't happen anymore.

            i find the sunshine beckons me to open up the gate and dream and dream ~~robbie williams

            J2R


              I think the marathon can be as challenging mentally as physically. It's one thing to keep going and not bonk, but that doesn't remove the mental challenge of not just wanting it to be over so you can stop running and sit down. I don't think what you experienced is all that strange. 

               

              Well, this was my 12th marathon, so I've become kind of familiar with the mental stuff which happens from mile 20 onwards. For me this  clearly felt like some kind of physical problem, quite distinct from the "Please, let this be over" feeling we all know and love Smile. I've had rough marathons before, where my legs were in a good deal of pain and I felt utterly exhausted, but this was different from that. This was a fast one for me (just under 3 hours), 9 minutes faster than my previous best, so maybe some other stuff came into play there I wasn't familiar with.

              J2R


                i used to get very sleepy when running, but now my asthma is better controlled that doesn't happen anymore.

                 

                Interesting! What's the link between asthma and sleepiness? I hadn't heard of that before. I do get cold induced asthma, and this was a cold day (just above freezing), but I'd taken a couple of puffs of an inhaler before I started and didn't get the shortness of breath I sometimes get in the cold.

                  My son once had this exact symptom on a 100km run- he said the concrete sidewalk looked so soft and comfortable he wanted to lie down and go to sleep.

                   

                  Quite why this happened I do not know, perhaps  physical fatigue leads to mental fatigue- I often sleep after a really long run.

                  PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                      10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.

                   

                    I don't care what you were eating along the way, it was a bonk.  When you are pushing hard and your heart rate is at 85% or better, your body is not taking in those carbs as fast as you need it to.  This has happened to me on quite a few runs over the years.  I would run past houses and want to curl up on the front porch and go to sleep, just for 10 minutes.  In that moment it feels like the right idea even though you know it's nuts.  It was an urge strong enough that I had to consciously fight it and talk myself out of it.  It happened to me a couple of months ago on an easy long run as I was ramping up my mileage after Grandma's, and I pulled over, grabbed a blueberry Nutri-grain bar, and in 5 minutes I was a brand new me.  I was running a nice easy 8:30 pace though, so my heart rate was pretty low.  It has happened during a marathon as well, and all you can do is eat a gel and gut it out.

                    luken


                    RA's cranky old teenager

                      I've never run a marathon, but something similar happens to me during interval workouts. I just want to lie down and go to sleep right on the track or the course or where ever I am. It usually comes on in the second or third repeat, then subsides and I feel fine towards the end, unlike your marathon situation.

                       

                      I don't know what it is. Luckily, I'm able to push through and come out of it and finish the workout.

                      That's probably maybe mostly true.

                        I haven't experienced drowsiness while running, but it makes sense that when the brain begins to feel glycogen-deprived, one of its defenses is to make you sleepy so you'll quit the running nonsense.

                        Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.