New Shoes, Sweaty Shirt, No Problem

Getting back into running has been challenging. I was doing well for about a month before I went in to have a sleep study. I was so focused. I was running stairs in my house every night to make sure I hit at least 10k steps every single day. I did a Fitbit challenge group with my friends that I usually won. My running partner kicked my ass, even though most of it was virtually since our schedules didn’t always match up.

And then my sleep study…

I’ve had issues sleeping since I could remember. Back in high school, I could run on 3-4 hours of sleep. The thing is, back then, I would get 3-4 hours consecutively. Now… Not so much. It goes something like this:

Bed at 10pm
Restless until1045pm
Up at midnight. So restless I get up, walk around my house, avoid looking at my phone since the bright light shocks me from half awake to wide awake.
Back to bed at 100.
Wake up at 130.

…..I think you get the point. I wake up at 530am for the day. I cannot tell you the last time I felt rested. I would get a total of maybe 3-4 hours of sleep, but without it being consecutive, I started becoming more tired and hazy than I ever thought was possible.

After my many many restless nights, and many years later, I finally caved and went to do a sleep study. This has been on my bucket list for years, so I finally just caved and booked an appointment.

Diagnosis will take a while to fully find out. But here’s where I’m at: I have Restless Leg Syndrome. And possibly an acute form of insomnia. (Honestly, neither of these I’m shocked by.) Here’s the tricky part we need to figure out: RLS is caused often (not always) by anemia. I’ve been border-line anemic my entire life. I donated plasma in college (because beer money…). My iron count was hit and miss for donating, but I’d say I was fine to donate 75% of the time. Donating blood though? That’s another story. I had never been able to.

In June, I made a diet change which incorporated some OTC iron pills and mostly spinach salads for lunch. I donated blood through work for the first time that month. So my RLS couldn’t be because of that then right? Well it still could be …

For two weeks, my doctor gave me some guidelines to follow and keep a sleep log. No strenuous exercise after 6, no alcohol at all and no caffeine after noon. The alcohol and caffiene rule I can handle, but no running for two weeks?? I don’t get home from work until 630pm and running before work was out of the question because of my long commute.

Ugh. Fine. It was only two weeks. She needed a baseline to see if these three things could be affecting me. And then the two weeks after that (which I’m currently doing now) I could do what I wanted. And we will be comparing the two weeks to see if there is a difference.

In the meantime, I had to get a blood test taken so they could do a full synopsis to see if my iron levels are too low. If my iron levels are too low, she will give me slow-releasing iron tablets. Seems like an easy fix right? Except it can take THREE MONTHS to fully tell if RLS is caused by anemia. If I need iron pills and after three months, I’m still having issues, they will do an overnight study. On the flip side, if my iron levels come back normal, then we will do an overnight study right away. At this point, its too hard to tell of my insomniac symptoms are just secondary to RLS or if I have both.

Needless to say, this will be a long journey to figure this out. But I’m ready to face it.

Back to running:

Since I was not able to run for two weeks, every morning before work, I did 30 squats. The second week I increased to 45. I needed to do soooomething.

Monday I went running in my new running shoes (which I ordered the DAY BEFORE my sleep study so I was torchered for two weeks staring at a box of perfect new shoes I couldn’t use). I was determined to run 3 miles. I got a mile in and the sky drastically changed. I thought I was going to get stuck in a bad storm, so I turned around and went home. I finished 1.75 miles in 18:39. My first mile was in 10:07. My best time ever. I was so so proud of myself!! I can’t help but think squats had something to do with this. And those shoes. Amazingly comfortable. My feet don’t even hurt today.

image

Because I neglected to stretch after my run on Monday, my quads were quite sure yesterday. I did an ab workout, along with a bunch of stretches instead last night, and tonight I’m lacing up those shoes!

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18 thoughts on “New Shoes, Sweaty Shirt, No Problem

  1. I can’t imagine how running/exercise can adversely affect sleep pattern, but I’m no medic. Just to make you feel worse I, very unusually, woke up at 4.30 the other morning but it was a great excuse to go running as the sun came up 🙂

    Hope it all comes together quickly for you Megan.

    • She said that the endorphins don’t wear off by bed time and many people can’t sleep bc of it. But adversely, many people fall asleep bc of it. So she wanted to be able to factor everything out.

  2. Apparently we’ve got a few things in common: insomnia, running and Blogging 101. Frankly, the latter is a 101 assignment, from which I’ve fallen far behind the two week duration of the course. Cheers and best regards,
    Foster

      • Nothing has worked despite trying many remedies. Plus, as a 69 year old male, the getting up to pee syndrome exacerbates insomnia. I had read that running would help, but it did not. One thing that seems to mitigate the resulting fatigue is just trying to relax while in bed and awake.

        Misery loves company,
        Fos

  3. Hi Megan. I too, am an athlete, and I too have RLS. It’s a right pain in the neck if you ask me! I struggle to lie still. After a few seconds I feel I have to move, like a nervy thing in my body. However, for me, the more exercise I do, the better I sleep. I have had blood tests, and I am NOT anaemic. So what causes it then? It’s idiopathic-Which means there is no known cause. What helps? The thing that sorts it our for me, ceases the RLS and sends me to sleep, are some natural tablets by the name of Valerian Forte, 2000mg. I take two, and within half an hour I’m out like a light. I do feel a little drowsy in the morning though.

    Good luck,

    Cheers

    Nicole

    • It seems like people who have RLS, there’s almost no common thing that helps people. I know someone who has to sleep with his right foot off the bed, and then he’s fine. Another has to sleep with soap in her sock… like how do you even think of these things!? So odd. Turns out I’m not anemic so it isn’t from that. I have to post another update about this yet!

      I am like you where the more I exercise, the better I am. I’ve been running a lot and it’s helping my RLS for sure. Insomnia though? That is just an uphill battle for me right now.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

      • Yeah, I know. Some nights are fine for me and others are terrible, but I still haven’t found a link there. I wish I knew the answer, sorry! In the mean time, I’ll keep taking Valerian Forte for my Insomnia. It works for me. Good luck! I’m getting up at 5:30 am to go for a 34 km run! Something I haven’t done in a very long time. Could be messy!! Good luck with your running, warmly Nicole

      • Thank you WordPress. Where else could a gang with these characteristics (running, writing & insomnia) come together! No RLS for me, but I’ve been challenged most of my 68 years by idiopathic insomnia. Many years ago I suspended my battle with it and decided to just endure it. My tricks, to at least, mitigate the effects are to relax despite the frustration and to take a daily nap. A timed 20-minute nap used to help, but this year my naps range from 45 – 50 minutes. To relax it helps to practice Chi Gong breathing, which involves concentrating on moving one’s diaphragm up and down and to only think of things that give pleasure. That type of breathing also helps, when doing speed work while running. My favorite ultra-runner Scott Jurek says: “The mouth is for eating and the nose is for breathing”. I find that I can move more air more efficiently, when I comply and conscientiously move my diaphragm.

        Good Luck!

      • In through the nose and out through the mouth!

        Truly relaxing has always been a challenge for me.

      • I feel your pain or more accurately, your distress. I finally resumed my battle with insomnia due to health professional’s admonishment. For me, that meant getting another Rx for Ambien (actually the generic), which I took last night and I wish that I could give you one to try. I’m not a big fan of drug remedies, but my thinking was that if it worked, I would take it before races. I fervently believe that one ought not experiment on race day. So, I’ll probably be taking it once a week, the night before a long run.

        Cheers for WordPress as well, being able to connect on this odd inventory of characteristics is sweet to be sure. It’s possible that your quick time was due to rest more than new shoes or squats. I was interested to read that anemia is linked to RLS, because I’ve recorded (not suffered that I know) boarder line, chronic anemia for years. Guess that I should check my iron level.

        Happy New Year!
        Keep running,
        Foster946

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