Collapsed at MK Half

Dehydration or something else?

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07/05/2014 at 15:39

I ran the MK Half on Bank Holiday Monday and at mile 11 I collapsed.  I cannot remember anything after mile 10.

I've been running for a good couple of years now and have run lots of 10k's and this was my 3rd half.  In the week before the race I tapered and carb loaded for 2 days before the race (pasta, sweet potato mash etc.)  I also made sure I drank 2 litres of water every day.

On the morning of the race I ate porridge and a banana and also drank water, which I stopped drinking an hour before the race.  15-30 minutes before the race I took an isogel and I took another at around 45 minutes (6 miles+). I also took on some water at mile 9.  I remember being very tired and then remember nothing after mile 10.  Next thing I remember is lying on the floor being sick.  Then surrounded by people, then later by paramedics and finally being put in an ambulance and on a drip.  They said my temperature had gone up to 41 degrees, my blood pressure had dropped and my glucose levels were low.

Is this a classic case of dehydration or something else?  It was a warm day.  Would love to know if anyone else has experienced this as it scared the life out of me and don't ever want it to happen again!

07/05/2014 at 15:46

I'm not a medic, but if you passed out, I'd imagine a full check-up by your own GP is in order so that you can get advice specific to you.

07/05/2014 at 15:57

Blimey Paul, I really hope you are ok there!

I am wondering if you had a virus or an infection but didn't realise, hence why your temperature went so high.

I can see why you are confused though, it is not as if this was your first ever half or anything was it.

Definitely get a check-up from your GP, so as to rule out stuff such as Diabetes etc.  I am not sure what would be the effect on a runner if their Electrolytes were to suddenly go haywire either.

cougie    pirate
07/05/2014 at 16:04
I cant see you getting dehydrated enough on a half to pass out in the UK ?
I'll run halves with no fluid and never felt like that.

Take the advice of those above and get checked out.
07/05/2014 at 16:13

It could be heatstroke but it would make sense to rule out something like diabetes.

Go to your GP and get some blood tests done.

07/05/2014 at 16:38

This happened to me once but with hypothermia instead of the high body temperature. I did go to my GP and get an ECG and all the blood tests she could think of. They didn't find anything but it was reassuring to know that none of the obvious things were wrong, and it hasn't happened since.

07/05/2014 at 16:49

Hardly surprising your blood sugar levels dropped. The one thing you don't do is plug a high concentrated 'sugar bomb' before you actually need one.

Your body reacts to this 'over load' by flooding your system with insulin to bring the sugar levels down. However, it tends to 'over shoot' and 'low blood sugar' is the result.

Anyway, why so much prep? its only a HM. Are you scared of it?

07/05/2014 at 17:05

RicF - I'm not aware that you could be scared of a half marathon, but in answer to your question the answer is no.  I just wanted to be prepared to run well and get as close to 1:30 as I could.

Everyone else - thanks for your comments.  Have taken your advice and have made an appointment with my GP.

07/05/2014 at 17:39
I agree get checked out. The gel may be something, maybe not. Lots of people take gels in a similar way. Whether it is needed or not is a different question, the point is that not everyone goes through what you did and I'm not sure it explains the high temperature. Glad you have an appointment
07/05/2014 at 17:41

Thanks YIDDARMY.  You and RicF have raised an interesting point that has got me thinking - maybe taking a gel before the race and then another after 45 minutes might have caused this, as it was too much.

I was aiming to break my half PB of 1:33:25 and acknowledge that my "enthusiasm" may have also contributed to my downfall! (first 4 miles at an average of 6:48 per mile).

I'll see what the GP says and if all comes back clear I'll stop taking a gel before a race.

07/05/2014 at 17:56
Paul, good idea to get checked out. The nutrition strategy doesn't look ideal but I don't think it would cause such drastic effects on its own.
07/05/2014 at 18:22

Not every one reacts to sugar in the same way. I know of at least one person who's body reacts to sugar with an excess of insulin causing hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). This does not make you a diabetic by the way!

Your preparation looks OK to me; the high temperature and low blood sugar combo is quite interesting.

What about Caffeine? Did the gels have anything else in them? A big dose of caffeine from various sources can be harmful. A few black coffees and further supplementary caffeine?

But this is one of those, "Nothing new on race day" stories. Presumably you do not dose yourself up on gels etc before a training run? If so, then you have done something new; try experimenting with high/low sugar runs and other eating strategies.

Obviously for safety do not push yourself too hard when trying different things and, if possible run with someone who knows what you are up to.

Your GP is always the best person to talk to, an ECG would be a nice to have, even  though this does not sound cardiac related.

07/05/2014 at 18:52

paul we are all different but i take a gel before and during a half marathon too.  i have never had any of the issues you faced.


07/05/2014 at 19:36
Reactive hypoglycemia?

I'm another one for coffee, wholemeal toast and marmalade and run. Feeding yourself up is diverting blood from your muscles to your stomach.

Hope you get it sorted. I had a friend that the same thing happened to. By his own admission he "went out a bit too quick".
07/05/2014 at 19:39

The gels that I take are the High5 Isogels which do have caffeine in.  Apart from the gel I took before the start and the one at around the 45 minute mark, the only other caffeine I had was a cup of tea in the morning.

I also had an ECG after my collapse, but that didn't reveal anything.

I'm edging towards dehydration being the main culprit.  Although I took on water at mile 9 it may not have been enough.  Plus factor in the heat on the day and the headwind, my body may have just overheated.  Just hope my GP has set aside several hours for me next week!!

07/05/2014 at 19:43
One thing also to bear in mind is it takes about 10-14 days for the body to aclimatise to hot weather. The blood vessels dialate and you physically need more blood. Notice when you go out into the cold you want to go to the toilet. That's because the blood vessels contract and you need to get rid if the excess fluids. The opposite takes a lot longer.

It's only your third half marathon. There's a lot to learn.
07/05/2014 at 19:50

Think I may have suffered with the "went out a bit too quick" syndrome too.  Perhaps trying for a PB in those hot conditions was a schoolboy error.

07/05/2014 at 22:09

I did the full stuffed myself full of the high 5 Isogels, didn't help much I was still below par, there seemed to be a lot of runners with medical support at the side of the course,    Could just have been one of those days. 

as everyone says common sense is to see a Doc, then start planning your next race, and shrug it off, if it happens again, then worry about it until then, don't let it screw with your running brain  

Dustboy    pirate
07/05/2014 at 22:19

Unlucky "flame out". Look after yourself and hope it works out, do let us know how you get on?

Flame outs are horrid.

08/05/2014 at 11:38

It did feel awfully hot on the day, I took advantage of all the water stops even though I never usually bother with water for less than 10 miles. Still felt thirsty though. I also went out a tad too quick and had to stop and walk by around 13 miles...despite having run 20 miles at a pace only a few seconds slower during training. I also noticed my heart rate seemed very high after only a mile which again I'm sure must have been down to the heat. 

Maybe put it down to the 'one of those things' syndrome...?

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