I like running.
I normally run continuously for 45 minutes to an hour. On occasion, two hours—whatever I feel like really. I don’t time myself or track miles—an act that makes running feel like work—I just run.
Two weeks ago, I was feeling especially light on my feet. When I left the house on an empty stomach that Saturday, I didn’t plan on running for three plus hours, but I did. I also didn’t take water or food with me, and nearly put myself in the hospital as a result.
I knew I was in trouble shortly after returning home. Realizing I was slipping, I asked Lindsey for help, but the words wouldn’t come out. My speech was slurred—like trying to talk with a mouthful of peanut butter. My lips became numb, my body felt tingly, and I was having a hard time breathing. (Interestingly during the run, I felt fine. It wasn’t until I stopped that I felt ill.)
Light-headed and dizzy, I collapsed to the floor. The horrified look from Lindsey and the girls—like I had been shot in the ribs—was all it took: “What have I gotten myself into?” I remember thinking. Lindsey sent the girls to their room, then rolled up her figurative nurse sleeves.
And then the leg cramps started. More like leg contortions. For more than an hour, chronic cramps came and went; at one point my right leg didn’t resemble the normal shape of a leg, more like a cylinder of clay that had been pounded with a mallet in various places. The spasms were not a pretty sight to behold. In fact, they straight up freaked me out.
All of this, of course, led to more panic and less breathing. The slurring, dizziness, gasping for air, cramps, near-loss of consciousness, and brief moments of composure returned in cycles. Like six or seven of them in succession over the course of an hour and a half. In that time, I stuffed my face with crackers, juice, and water to try and get my sugars stabilized. My stomach didn’t like that.
Per the internet’s recommendation, and after deciding not to call 911 a couple of times, Lindsey helped drag my dysfunctional legs to the tub filled with ice water, which reduced the severity of the cramps, so I could focus on breathing. My legs were so tight, though, that I had to use the front of the tub to keep my toes from pointing in severe pain. While in the tub—fully dressed, mind you—my stomach decided it no longer wanted what I fed it. I kept on drinking water. My stomach kept on rejecting everything else.
While the cold water minimized the cramping, it gave me the shivers, which worsened my breathing. To counteract this, my beloved Lindsey warmed what seemed like eight towels in rotation to cover my torso. The cycles came and went. Lindsey kept coaching me on breathing when I needed it, and encouraged more drinking.
(Note: I would have passed out a number of times had it not been for Lindsey, who just four days prior gave birth to our third child. Thanks babe. I totally owe you one.)
After almost two hours of recovery, Lindsey pulled me from the tub and removed my wet clothes. I put on some sweats and crashed on the couch—not without one more round of vomiting though. When I awoke, the cramps were gone and my body was stable. I had beaten a scary combination of dehydration, exhaustion, and hypoglycemia.
That’s my latest war story. Lesson learned. Don’t be stupid. Running wild for extreme distances without planning ahead is irresponsible. To my wife and three children, I promise not to do it again.
On that note, anyone know a good way to carry water on long runs?
ABOUT THE DISTANCE: Although inexact, I ran one mile shy of an estimated 20, according to Google Maps.