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Running and Drugs …

October 27, 2010

I joked around in my second post about taking some OTC medicine, but I want to talk about running and drugs today on a serious note and I honestly don’t know why I waited so long to talk about it. Wait. I just remembered … because the night before last I hardly got any sleep because of my allergy medicine! I woke up at 3:40AM two nights ago and my mind was ON. I swear that my allergy medicine is a blessing and a curse; when I don’t take it before I go to bed, I wake up groggy and feel incredibly lethargic. When I do take it, if I don’t wake up in the middle of the night, well I’ve got quite the spring in my step at 6AM!

The thing is that running (a lot) and drugs affect each other and I believe strongly that we still don’t know enough about the interaction between the two (especially for each of all the meds out there).

Recently (I’d say over the past 6 months to a year), I have come to find an increasing amount of warning materials in race packets that discourages taking OTC pain medication before, during, or immediately after a big race. Acetaminophen (aka Tylenol), for example, can reduce pain and fever, but it can be toxic to the liver when you are overheated or at oxidative stress. Further, Advil, well that can cause nausea and decrease kidney perfusion. Sound scary? It is! Just being properly hydrated and fueled during a marathon is hard enough, can you imagine your body also working hard to: 1. do new things at levels it either hasn’t gone to before or doesn’t go to frequently and then 2. doing it in a way that inhibits some of your bodies natural functions [all simply because you’re trying to avoid the pain]? I just had a flashback to a woman passed out on the grass (surrounded by EMT) during the Zooma race in June.

I talk about all of this because I was thinking about stopping my allergy medicine for a period of time until the marathon is over. With the increased running, I need more sleep. Inversely, it seems the more sleep I need, the more sensitive my body is to the running (and the more likely that I wake-up in the middle of the night). But here’s the thing: I’ve been taking the allergy medicine longer than I’ve been training for a marathon and if there’s any one thing I think anybody should do when it comes to messing with prescriptions it’s this: don’t change anything unless consulting with your doctor. I mean, for all I know, yes, I might be able to sleep more, but I’ve been training for months now with the allergy meds in my system whether I sleep or not, so however my body has been adapting to the increased mileage, well, it’s been doing it with these drugs circulating around.  Thus, in the meantime, I’m going to just play around with when I take the meds. For example, I didn’t take some last night right before I go to bed like I usually do, but I took it first thing this morning. I still don’t feel great yet (it kind of feels like I have a head cold with a runny nose), but my sleep was divine … I even had a dream … I went to Disney World! I’m going to keep it this way for two weeks and see how I feel (and I was going to call the doctor too).

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