When I began posting about my random migraines, I received so many great questions about running while suffering from those horrid headaches. Thankfully, my migraines were “pop up” headaches and I haven’t had one for weeks. I think it was medication related, and now that I’m not that medication, I haven’t had one since.
However, that isn’t always the case – and it definitely isn’t the case for Kate Wright, a 100-mile finisher (who is training for her next!). I was lucky enough to get to know Kate at the RRCA Coaching Clinic in Ann Arbor this past summer. I was even more grateful to sit down for an interview with Kate to talk about how she manages training for 100 milers when she suffers from frequent migraines.
First, just a bit about Kate: She is an RRCA certified running coach, and she is also a clarinet and piano instructor. This is all in addition to her 100 mile race training…(CRAY).
Kate has suffered from migraines since the 80s when she was pretty young. While they have come and gone, she notes that when she started running seriously 4 years ago, her migraines started to get bad once again.”Sometimes they are worse than others, and it involves laying in a dark room and crying,” she said…
…and yet, her dedication will lead her to a three year run streak when March 1, 2017 hits. “There are days I get out of bed and I am so dizzy. Even if it hurts like hell to run, my head is going to hurt anyway.” Even if Kate is able to just get one mile in, she makes it happen. “I come back, and I don’t feel any better – but I also don’t feel any worse.” Kate utilizes essential oils to help her through her migraines to get out there and run.
Kate has used her migraines as a platform for fundraising and awareness, running the New York City Marathon to benefit Migraine Research. Unfortunately, science has yet to find a blanket cause for migraines. “There are so many types. You will probably never meet someone who has the same migraines as you do,” said Kate.
Of course, despite her fantastic run streak, I was wondering if her migraines interfere with her long distance training and if that training triggers her migraines. “I get migraines if I don’t stay hydrated,” she said, but made it clear that running long distances is not a migraine trigger (at least for her). As far as her first 100 miler, Kate said that she felt wonderful during the race: “I was super hydrated the whole race. I’m notorious for not hydrating enough, so this was a huge help.”
In addition to water, her advice is to carry some peppermints to help with any nausea that may occur while running with a migraine.
If you find that you have begun to suffer from migraines and are determined to keep running, here are Kate’s top three pieces of advice:
- Make sure you are seeing a neurologist or doctor. “It’s a must,” said Kate, “[My neurologist] had me do things like allergy testing, which could be a huge cause of migraines.” Doctors can help rule out any obvious or even not so obvious causes.
- You must drink enough water and take care of yourself. “So many things are environmental causes,” including bright sunlight.
- Not everyone wants to do this, but it may be a good thing to run when you have a migraine. Kate’s thoughts on this: “I might as well be moving around accomplishing something rather than laying in bed” (spoken like a true runner!).
Doctors have told Kate that she will likely suffer from migraines forever and to get used to it, but Kate keeps chugging along. “I don’t want to be identified as the person who can’t function because of migraines,” she said, making it clear that she wants to accomplish everything she can in spite of them: “I see so many people who are debilitated by them. If I’m not at that point yet, I’m going to make the most of where I am now.”
Kate’s next 100 miler is in April, and I am excited to cheer her on! You can follow Kate’s journey on Instagram: themigrainedrunner and on her blog: The Migrained Runner. If you are interested in natural remedies to help with your migraines, you can get them directly from Kate on her essential oils website.
Good luck from See Court Run & Bold Speed Ahead, LLC on your next 100 miler!