Running is giving me a headache

I went for my first run and my head was hurting for the rest of the day. The run wasn’t hard, in fact it was a walk-run alternating between running for a minute and walking for a 90 seconds. Including warming up and and cooling down, it was a 30 minute workout. Do you think my headache could be related to not being hydrated enough?

There are quite a few factors that might be causing a headache after running. Dehydration could definitely be one of them.

Hydration guidelines tell us that men should have a total of around three and a half to four litres a day of fluid intake. Women around two and a half to three litres. (Litres are roughly equivalent to quarts, if you need to do the conversion.) Total fluid intake, by the way, is not just the water you drink. Other drinks and the water content of the food you eat also contribute. This article from the National Institutes of Health provides the water content for selected foods in Table 1.

Temperature, humidity, and sweat rate will impact your hydration status as well. If it’s hot, you’ll sweat more and dehydrate more quickly. Even moreso if it’s hot and humid. And if you sweat a lot, that will also contribute. Take these things into consideration when you’re planning your workout.

Also keep in mind that you can’t drink water and instantly be more hydrated. Don’t let the rate you pee fool you. It takes at minimum several hours to process the water you drink. If you’re running tomorrow, start hydrating now.

Another other thing that might really contribute to a headache after running: Neck and shoulder tension, especially through your upper traps. Running technique is not just about how you move your legs, and running is hard work! When we are doing physically hard work, we often end up with our shoulders up around our ears. Coupled with the fact that most of us hold tension in our shoulders anyway, this could definitely be a contributing factor. Keep your shoulders and arms relaxed as you run, for a better stride and one less headache trigger.

What do you think?

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