A Lesson in Overexertion

I am happy to report that this fairly sedentary lover of the indoors spent a fair amount of time active outside yesterday! This gorgeous weather just couldn’t go to waste.

Except all of that activity really took a toll on my body.

After breakfast, the day began with a hike in Prince William Forest Park. I had never been to this National Park until two weeks ago, and it is only 15 minutes from our house! In addition to wooded hiking trails, there is a lengthy running/biking path, camping areas, and picnic spaces. My husband and I took our dog and met up with another couple and their dog for a 1 1/2 hour trek through the woods, which included stops at a waterfall and small pond. The weather was cool and great for such an activity. The most challenging part of the day was the steep hill climb from the pond back up to the trail!

Hike 1

Hike 2

Hike 3

Thank you, Kris, for taking these beautiful photos!

After grabbing some lunch and some down time–still outside!–I started another part of my get healthy journey…I went running!

Since re-starting Weight Watchers, I’ve been trying to come up with a concrete activity goal that doesn’t necessarily involve going to the gym. (Weight Watchers does encourage but doesn’t require activity–you can lose weight by following the program and not exercising. However, I really want to live a healthy lifestyle, and moderate exercise should be a part of that.) Although the gym we belong to is right across the street from our house, sometimes it seems like it takes a tremendous effort to get there. I really liked the idea of going running–I could step outside of my front door and just get it done. I also really liked that I could create a set, measurable goal for my running journey–especially with the Couch to 5k Running Plan from Active.com.

Couch to 5k is a 9-week plan, involving a combination of running and walking 3 times per week, 30 minutes per session. The goal is to take the participant from sedentary to successfully completing a 5k in about 30 minutes in the 9 week time frame. The program gradually progresses from walking and running intervals to running for the full 30 minutes.

Nine weeks from September 14, my first day (yesterday), is November 16…and I’ve already signed up for an official 5k on November 17! I will be running the King of the Road 5k in Rockville, Maryland.

The first Couch to 5k workout, which I completed yesterday, involved a 5 minute walking warm up, intervals of 60 seconds jogging and 90 seconds walking for 20 minutes, and then another 5 minute walking cool down. I was so proud of myself–I didn’t walk at all during the jogging portions! At one point, I even had to jog up a hill–and I did it! I really wanted to quit at about the half way mark, but I pushed through and completed the workout. I was exhausted, but extremely proud. My husband even helped me with proper stretching when I came back in the house.

I felt great after showering and sitting down for a bit, but then it hit. I got a killer headache and almost instantly felt nauseous. I ended up vomiting a total of 4 times last night.

My body just rebelled. I think the combination of the morning hike and the Couch to 5k workout that my body wasn’t prepared for was just too much. I definitely overexerted myself.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve gotten an exertion headache, but it might take the cake as the worst one. (I vividly remember the same thing happening in college, after I jumped into a 60 minute aerobics session.) I tend to decide that I’m going to go all in, without easing into a workout in moderation. Then, when the overexertion makes me sick, I have a tendency to give up (which is exactly what happened with that aerobics class in college). I am not giving up this time! I think I need to moderate my expectations and possibly just speed walk the Couch to 5k plan for a week or so, until I feel like my body is ready to jog.

Regardless, I am determined to finish the 5k in November! I’ve completed one other 5k about 2 years ago that I really didn’t train for–I walked about 2/3 of the race–and I think I finished in 40 minutes. My goal for this race is to finish in 35 minutes.

I think the thing I need to remember now with exercising–just like with weight loss in general–is that slow and steady wins the race. Going too hard, too fast isn’t good for my body or my motivation.

Are you prone to exertion headaches? About 1 in 100 people get them, especially those people who have had trouble with migraines. As I child, I used to have migraines often, but they have subsided to less than 2-3 per year as I’ve gotten older…but I obviously still struggle with these exertion headaches.

Have you attempted to jump into exercise too fast? How did you moderate your expectations?

What is your workout of choice? I really enjoyed hiking yesterday, especially since it didn’t feel like a “workout”. I was enjoying time with family and friends while still logging activity.


One thought on “A Lesson in Overexertion

  1. I think the best kinds of workouts are the ones that don’t really feel like workouts! If you can enjoy yourself, in some capacity, they go quicker, and you don’t feel like you’re torturing yourself 🙂 First running puke’s sort of a badge of honor!

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