The post-long run headache

I have this problem that has plagued me since training for my first marathon.  After every single long run (8 miles and up), I end up with a headache that sticks with me for the rest of the day.  It puts a damper on my Saturday and I feel pretty much useless for the rest of the day.  Pain meds like Advil or Tylenol can’t even touch it, plus I don’t want to be taking them every single weekend.

So what’s the logical thing to do to find the solution to this problem? Ask my doctor, right? Nah, I’d rather ask my running tweeps on Twitter! I’ve “met” such wonderful and helpful people on Twitter and I immediately got a lot of great advice from them.  Their answers to my question about my post-long run headaches ranged from dehydration and hunger to the need to replenish my electrolytes and sugars.

After my (quite awesome) 16 mile run on Saturday, I was determined to figure out the solution and stop the post-long run headache before it started so I could enjoy the day with Zain and my love.  I combined all my tweeps’ advice to come up with a triple pronged attack.  Normally, I shower right after my long run before I even eat something.  I’m fairly certain that is my biggest mistake (yes, you’d think I would have figured that out by now).

This time, I forced my sweaty self to consume a multi-grain English muffin topped with almond butter and honey, with a banana on the side and a double dose of Nuun to wash it down, followed by more water.

The solution

I also drank about 30oz of water plus 10oz of Nuun during my run and a few sips of Gatorade during a quick stop at home to refill my water bottles.

Problem solved! I didn’t have a headache for the rest of the day.  I felt great and had more energy than I usually do after my long runs.  The only thing that would have made me feel even better would have been a nap :).

It’s a relief to conquer this obstacle in my marathon training because before I’m a runner, I’m a mom.  I need to be able to take care of my sweet little running partner and not feel useless after a few hours of running one day every weekend.  If you ever have this same problem, hopefully my solution will help you too!

Happy running!


  1. says

    I’m so glad I’m not the only person with this issue. I have found that drinking chocolate milk, eating a banana and drinking at least 16 oz of water after my long runs helps a lot! I also know that eating pizza the night before is not the best approach. :)

    Congrats on finding a solution!

  2. says

    Congrats on solving your headache problem! Even though we may know things like eat shortly after a long run and make sure you have plenty of electrolytes, sometimes it takes others to remind us of that and to follow through. I agree with you, I find more useful info from others around me than the medical community sometimes. Congrats on 16 miles!

    • says

      Thank you for posting this. I just posted a topic on my blog about this to get some feedback.

      After my 17 mile run this weekend I had about decided to quit marathon training (my first). The headache was scary awful and left me never wanting to run again. The run itself was fine. I’m going to try this next weekend and see what happens.

  3. says

    Great information! I googled headaches after long runs and came across your blog. I will have to try your tricks next time. Unfortunately, I am nursing my headache right now. :(


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