If you’ve ever increased your mileage quickly, you know some pretty strange and not-so-cool things can happen to your body. From night sweats to runner’s high, here are a few things that can happen to your body when you start pushing your running workouts to the limit.
Whether it’s your arms, legs, back or multiple spots at once, the itchiness that begins a few minutes after you start running is not uncommon. One simple cause could be dry skin, particularly for runners who live in desert climates like Arizona. Another likely cause is the stimulation of nerves near the skin from the increase in blood flow to your capillaries and arteries, causing some runners with increased sensitivity to experience an itching sensation over large areas of the body.
After a long or particularly hard run, it’s normal for your body to feel hot even if your temperature is normal. This is because strenuous exercise can kick your metabolism into overdrive, making your body burn a few extra calories long after your workout has concluded. If you work out at night or late evening, this could turn into night sweats while you sleep. If you’ve noticed you’re having a hard time sleeping or staying asleep because of this, try early morning workouts instead. This gives your body enough time to adjust before bed time.
Endurance events like the marathon commonly cause dehydration, and breathing out of your mouth can cause your throat to dry and become irritated. The combination of the difficulties of your salivary glands to produce moisture and a dried-out palate can make food taste weird and cause your throat to hurt for a few hours post-exercise. In severe cases, bronchoconstriction can also occur, causing a cough due to spasms in the lining of the lungs. In either case, take it easy and drink plenty of fluids until your throat and lungs have a chance to calm down.
While not pretty, this common running wound is caused from bleeding beneath the toenail following a long run. Black toenails can be painful and eventually lead to the nail falling off completely if a blister forms beneath the nail. The most common cause for this injury is ill-fitting running shoes. This could be from a lack of shoe volume or shoes that are too small for your foot. Since running causes your feet to swell, trying a shoe that’s a half size larger may be all you need to do to get rid of the problem.
YOUR MIND PLAYS TRICKS ON YOU
Flashing spots in your vision, color changes and forgetfulness can all be linked to intense endurance efforts. This can be caused by dehydration, physical stress and a lack of glucose in the bloodstream. Since glucose is your brain’s fuel, a lack of it can cause your mind to play tricks on you, and make it hard to remember things that shouldn’t be all that difficult. Staying hydrated throughout your run and consuming electrolytes and energy gels should help control these symptoms.
A DECREASE IN LIBIDO
Even though exercise has been shown to have positive effects on your libido, this study shows extreme exercise like marathon training can actually have the opposite effect. In men, the cause is likely due to a decrease in testosterone production following intense efforts. Couple this with mental and physical exhaustion, and it makes sense that once you hit the bed the only thing you might be thinking about is sleep.
Not everything that happens to your body before and after a run is bad. One positive side effect from running is runner’s high, which can have positive mental effects on your mood, stress levels and overall happiness. This is due to endorphins in the brain being released in areas of the brain that are associated with emotions that make you feel good — similar to the way some drugs interact with the brain. Once you’re hooked, the feeling can have you running more and more often and for longer distances than you might have thought possible.