Saturday, September 19, 2009

Running Syncope (Losing consciousness after running)

I went for my Saturday morning run today just like any other weekend run in the past. I had planned on running with a small group of people in the morning but thought I had missed them when I noticed their cars were at our meeting spot but no one was around, so I ran on by myself and thought I would see them along the run.

I felt pretty good this morning and had a really fast pace. I haven't been sick this week but I could tell I was just a bit off the last 3-4 days. I blamed it on stress from writing my PhD proposal but now I am wondering. I saw someone running quickly about a full Km ahead of me (it is a very straight and flat course). I thought I could catch them in the next 10 minutes so I pushed pretty hard. I met my goal on caught the runner about the time I veered off to run a different side trail. I hit my turn around point and decided to cruise back to my car. I was only running 6 km in the morning and was planning on a steep and technical 20 Km run in the evening. I was just doing the short morning run so I could run with friends, I typically never drive to a spot to run unless I have good reason.

I started feeling a bit fatigued on the way back to my car. I thought it could be the warming Fall sun or it was because I didn't have a good breakfast. I still felt surges of speed so I would push when I felt good. The last half Km I saw the group I was supposed be running with just starting their run (apparently they had been doing a small warm-up and I had just missed them in the morning so they hadn't even started their run yet). My typical running partner was waiting for me to finish my lap thinking I would want to go again and crank out another 6 Km run. As I got near him I felt extremely tired and fatigued and told him that I feel really tired. It came on pretty fast. I started slowing (a bit fast).

The next think I know I was loosing my vision and my legs were completely collapsing. That was the last thing I remember. Over the next minute I was experiencing what felt like a really realistic dream. In the background I could hear my running partner Rob, who happens to be a Doctor, repeating my name and asking me if I was alright. He sounded very distant and distorted and I can't quite explain the weirdness of the experience. Suddenly his voice and my consciousness began to surface like when you emerge from a pool after a high dive. I opened my eyes and for one split second thought I was still running. I quickly realized I was on the ground when I looked over and saw Rob hunched down to talk to me. I was really confused and then I could tell I was pretty messed up from the fall.

Apparently my chin broke my fall as I face planted onto the asphalt. Somehow my right arm really got twisted up under me and was pretty injured. Both knees were scraped. My Jaw is super skinned and just extremely sore and swollen. What a horrible experience to realize that I completely passed out on my run.

I am very glad it didn't occur until I was near Rob who as a doctor was able to check me out for any major injuries. I was fine just a bit confused and sore from the face plant onto the pavement.

Since coming home and researching the subject I realize there are some concerns I need to address before I shrug this experience off as a fluke. Apparently it could have to do with your heart, or hormones like histamines, or even neurological processes. My main concern is I have a history of light-headedness and "brown outs", or near faints, from getting up too fast, being in too warm a room, and surgery related experiences. This seems to point at an underlying persistent problem. The heart issue is perhaps the most concerning because of the risk of death with athletes who had undiagnosed heart conditions. I have had a ECG that returned abnormal results before so that is also a concern.

Overall this could potentially lead to an extremely depressing and challenging situation. I am going to stay optimistic and jump through the gauntlet of tests to see if there is a problem. Even if I can't diagnose a problem I will have to take care to properly cool down and ensure I stay hydrated and have proper electrolytes during future runs. This could effect how I train and run ultra marathon races. As long as there is no huge increase with my potential of dying I will continue to run and train, as planned, after I get the go ahead from the Doctors. One thing is certain I am not going to risk shortening my life for anything, my family needs me for as long as possible so I will do what ever is necessary to make sure I am not taking any unnecessary risks. The thought of not being able to train, run, and be as active as I have been the last while is completely disheartening. I have worked very hard to train my body to run long distances and I have come a long way since my intestinal surgeries in 2005. I hope everything works for the best but I am depressed about the possibilities.

Hopefully I get into the proper Doctors and quickly so I can plan my running future. Wish me luck!

1 comment:

Tim said...

That is SO scary! I have never even heard of that before. Do they know what it is caused from? Luckily your friends were nearby and were able to assist you? What do you think would have happened if no one was around? Would you have been able to get back to your car or home. I am just glad everything is ok. Have you set up a doctors appointment yet to see if they could see what is the problem? Well don't push it to hard probably for a little bit until a doc gives you the ok. So what marathon are we going to run together?