Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Long Run Battle with BGs, Dehydration and my Dang Ears Again!

Last Saturday, I was supposed to run 20k. 

I ran 19k. 

And I spent the last 7k debating whether I was cutting it short because I was a lazy person or because it made sense. 

The run started off ok. I was feeling good when I woke up and psychologically ready to tackle the distance. My blood sugar was 4.8 but I had a banana and a GU gel which would normally be fine for at least 12k of solid running. 

I headed off. I ran past downtown where people were already lining their chairs along the route for our annual Grape and Wine Parade. I ran down a busy street, down one side and up the other side of a rather large valley and headed off into the countryside. At 6k, I reached a stop sign and stopped because of all the cars. When it was my turn to go, I ran across the intersection and felt so strange that I immediately stopped again. It felt like the earth had tilted on its axis which usually happens when I'm exercising and my blood sugar is dropping. 

I checked and it was 5.1. Way too low after only six kilometres of running. 

I ate a box of raisins and took off again but at a slightly slower pace. At 8k I stopped to drink. I had already drained all of my water and almost all of my Nuun (did I mention it was hot?). I started running again and the earth didn't tilt which was good. At 11k, I stopped to walk because I was overheating. I was now completely out of liquids and seriously wondering what to do. I haven't been that hot on a run in weeks and weeks. If I had known, I would have picked a different route or planted water but I didn't and the shortest route home from was 7k. 

I spotted a woman heading to the end of the driveway to check her mail. I ran towards her yelling "excuse me!". She stopped. I waved an empty bottle and asked for water. She filled me up with ice cold, refreshing water and I thanked her profusely. 

I could make it home in 7k if I headed straight back. I still had 9k to do and had been planning to add a 2k loop but I decided not to. I wanted to be closer to home and figured I could loop my neighbourhood a few times to make up the distance...if I felt up to it once I actually made it within site of home.

I resumed my run and stopped again almost immediately. The tilty feeling was back. I checked and I was 5.8. I had a gel and carried on. 

That's about the point when my ears started plugging up. They do this sometimes on long runs. I have yet to figure out what causes it but I have ruled out blood sugar issues and temperature because it happens throughout the year and when I'm high, stable or low. It's also not my ear buds because it happens whether I'm wearing them or not. I think it might have something to do with pace and heart rate. If I'm running my regular pace and my heart rate is sitting around 165, I'm fine. If it is a little higher and won't go down even when I slow down, the ear plugging starts. It could also be dehydration.

The problem when it starts is that I can't make it go away until I stop running. Not just for a minute or two but stop the run. The longer I run once it starts, the more I plug up. Twice now I've finished a run being unable to hear anything. It's very uncomfortable and rather freaky. It seems to be connected to my ears/nose/throat area. It gets harder to breathe (like mild asthma or something) and there is no pushing through it. 

So I settled on running for 10 minutes and then walking for a few seconds while I drank more ice cold water. Run, walk, drink. Repeat until I was 4k from home (and 6k from reaching my goal of 20k) and I knew my blood sugar was down again. I tested and was 6.1. I had my last box of raisins and was now completely out of carbs and quickly running out of water again. 

I ran the last four kilometres without incident and wanted to just head home. My stubborn side refused and I turned right to start the first loop of the neighbourhood. I was thirsty, out of carbs and my ears were plugged. 

This is ridiculous. 

At 19k I called it a day. I walked the last 500m home figuring that one less kilometre during training will not affect my race day in the least. I chugged some water, stretched, drank chocolate milk and had a lovely shower. I felt great afterwards and my legs didn't complain at all about the distance. Probably because of all the rest breaks they got. 

I'm not sure what to make of the ear plugging thing. I've been to my family doctor and my diabetes doctor. I was referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist who couldn't find anything wrong even after two visits. It's rather hit and miss but, when it hits, the run deteriorates pretty quickly. 

If it happens on race day, it's going to be a tough slog to the finish. 


  1. This sounds downright miserable. Sorry to read it.
    From what you've written and experienced, the ear plugging thing sounds so creepy and weird. Perhaps you are right and it is a result of heart rate and effort? But... I just don't get it!
    It's runs like this that make all the other ones much better.

  2. Have you ruled out dehydration as the cause? If you google dehydration and hearing loss there are quite a few articles citing a connection.

  3. Yikes :( Was nice of your neighbor to help you out with water!