Stop the World from Spinning: Effective Strategies for Dealing with Dizziness During Runs

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

Are you tired of feeling like you’re on a rollercoaster during your runs? That feeling of lightheadedness, dizziness, or blurred vision can be alarming, scary, and even dangerous. But don’t let it stop you from hitting the pavement and reaching your goals.

As a seasoned runner, I know firsthand the frustration of experiencing dizziness during a workout. It can be discouraging, and it’s essential to understand why it’s happening and what you can do to prevent it.

That’s why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to dizziness while running. By the end of this post, you’ll have a clear understanding of the causes and symptoms of lightheadedness during exercise, the link between blood pressure and feeling dizzy, and, most importantly, how to prevent and manage these symptoms.

Don’t let dizziness keep you from reaching your full potential. With the right knowledge and strategies, you can keep running strong and steady. So, let’s dive in and learn how to stay on solid ground while hitting the pavement.

Dizziness While Running Red Flags

Dizziness can be a real pain in the neck, but it’s not always a cause for alarm. However, there are certain red flags that should prompt you to seek medical attention immediately. If you start experiencing slurred speech, chronic and severe headaches, sudden deafness in one ear, or numbness, don’t wait for things to get worse. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.

And let’s talk about projectile vomit. I’m not talking about a little bit of queasiness or an upset stomach. Projectile vomit is exactly what it sounds like – vomiting with such force that it shoots out of your mouth like a cannon. Not only is this gross, but it’s also a clear sign that something is seriously wrong. If you experience this while running, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

According to a study published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, chest pain and palpitations during exercise can be indicative of heart problems. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms.

Remember, your body is your temple, and you should always take care of it. Don’t ignore any red flags that your body is giving you. It’s better to take a break from running and get checked out by a medical professional than to push through and potentially cause more harm.

Here are some of the warning signs to watch out for:

Firstly, if you’re experiencing slurred speech or sudden deafness in one ear, it’s time to seek medical help. These symptoms could be indicative of a stroke, which is a medical emergency.

Secondly, if you’re experiencing severe and chronic headaches, it’s also a cause for concern. Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of exercise-induced dizziness, but if they’re persistent and debilitating, they could be a sign of something more serious.

Numbness or weakness are also red flags to watch out for. These symptoms can be indicative of a stroke or nerve damage, which can be serious and require immediate medical attention.

Extreme exhaustion, chest pain, palpitations, and projectile vomiting are other symptoms that could indicate an underlying medical condition that requires medical attention.

How To Not Get Light-Headed When Running

If your head starts spinning or gets woozy during a run, various culprits could be to blame.

Here are the main ones, as well as how to how to deal with each.

Blood Pressure Drop

One common reason why you might feel lightheaded when running is due to a drop in blood pressure. When you stop running, your heart rate decreases, which can cause your blood pressure to drop. This can result in dizziness and weakness.

The solution? To prevent this, try doing a 5- to 10-minute cool-down after your run. This will give your body enough time to slowly transition back to a normal resting state, preventing the dizzying sensation.

Running Too Hard

Another culprit of lightheadedness is overexertion. It’s tempting to push yourself to the limit during a workout, but doing so can lead to dehydration and a decrease in blood volume, both of which can cause dizziness.

How to Prevent Overexertion

Running too much too fast can do more harm than good, so listen to your body and adjust your training accordingly.

If you’re feeling lightheaded during a high-intensity workout, slow down and take a minute to catch your breath and slow your heart rate.

It’s great to push yourself on the running track every now and then, but don’t turn it into a habit.

Otherwise, you might be setting yourself up for a painful setback.

Dehydration & Dizziness During A Run

Another reason why you might feel lightheaded is due to dehydration. When you run, your body sweats to regulate your core temperature. This can cause you to lose a lot of water and electrolytes, especially during long runs in the heat.

Early warning signs of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Running headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

How to Prevent Dehydration

To prevent this, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially before and after your runs. During long runs, aim to sip an ounce or two of water every 15 to 20 minutes.

Low Blood Sugar

Let’s dive into the importance of fueling your body during training. Food is not just something we eat for pleasure; it is energy that fuels our body for daily activities, exercise, and training. Skipping meals can leave you feeling weak and lightheaded, making it hard to keep up with the demands of your training. In fact, studies have shown that exercising on an empty stomach can lead to low blood sugar levels, which can cause symptoms like dizziness and trembling.

How To Prevent Low Blood Sugar

Instead of running on an empty stomach, opt for a light meal or snack that includes complex carbohydrates and protein, such as yogurt with fruit or apples with peanut butter. According to research, carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy during exercise, and protein helps repair and build muscle tissue.

Improper Breathing

Breathing, on the other hand, is an often-overlooked aspect of running. Proper breathing technique not only helps improve performance but also prevents dizziness and lightheadedness. Many runners have a tendency to hold their breath or take shallow breaths, which can impede oxygen flow to the brain, leading to lightheadedness.

How To Prevent Improper Breathing

You can no longer control your breath while running?

Slow it down, or stop to rest and recover.

To err on the side of caution, especially if dizziness is a big issue, stick to a conversational training pace.

This means being able to talk while running without panting for air.

Another trick to help prevent improper breathing is to synchronize your breathing with your steps while running. I recommend a 3:2 ratio—in for three steps, out for two steps. Inhale, inhale, inhale-exhale, exhale, in sync with your steps. This can help regulate your breathing and keep you feeling great during your run.

Getting Light-Headed When Running On The Treadmill

If you’re feeling dizzy while running on the treadmill, you’re not alone. This is a common complaint among runners, and it’s caused by a disconnect between your brain and your body. When running on the treadmill, your body gets used to the ground moving beneath your feet to meet your steps. However, once you step off the machine, the floor becomes motionless, which can cause motion sickness or dizziness.

But don’t worry; this type of vertigo is not dangerous and often goes away after a few treadmill runs.

How to Overcome Treadmill Vertigo

To prevent treadmill dizziness, try slowing down gradually. Reduce your pace over the course of three to five minutes until you’re walking comfortably and breathing normally. Then, and only then, get off the machine. Get into a recovery position or simply sit down and rehydrate.

Medical Issues

Feeling dizzy during exercise can be a concerning and uncomfortable experience, but it’s important to remember that there are many factors that can contribute to this sensation.

While some causes of dizziness can be easily remedied with simple lifestyle changes, others may require medical intervention. Here are some additional factors to consider if you’re experiencing dizziness during running:

Underlying Medical Issues:

As mentioned earlier, underlying medical issues such as ear problems or heart diseases can contribute to dizziness during exercise.

For example, Meniere’s disease is a condition of the inner ear that can cause vertigo, dizziness, and ringing in the ears. Similarly, conditions such as tachycardia, bradycardia, and arrhythmia can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, leading to dizziness during exercise.

It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect you may have an underlying medical issue contributing to your dizziness.


Certain medications, especially those that affect blood pressure, can cause dizziness during exercise. If you’re taking medication and experiencing dizziness during exercise, talk to your healthcare provider about potential side effects and alternative treatment options.

What To Do If You Feel Lightheaded When Running?

Running can be a great form of exercise, but it’s important to listen to your body and take steps to prevent dizziness and lightheadedness. One key factor to keep in mind is staying hydrated. Dehydration can lead to a drop in blood pressure, which can cause dizziness during exercise. It’s important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run to stay hydrated.

Another factor to consider is nutrition. As mentioned earlier, food is energy, and if you’re skipping meals, you won’t have the fuel you need to keep up with the demands of your training. Make sure to eat a balanced diet that includes complex carbohydrates and protein, and try to have a light meal or snack before your run.

Additionally, improper breathing can contribute to dizziness while running. Focus on taking deep breaths and syncing your breath with your foot strikes to help prevent shallow breathing.

If you’re experiencing dizziness while running, it’s important to take steps to address the issue. Stop running and find a cool spot to rest, elevate your legs above your heart to promote blood flow, and try to identify the cause of your symptoms. If your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to seek medical attention.

Research has also shown that regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost overall mood and well-being. So, keep training strong, but always prioritize your health and safety.

Feeling Dizzy While Running – The Conclusion

Congratulations, you’ve stumbled upon the ultimate guide to banishing lightheadedness during your runs! If you’re tired of feeling dizzy and craving the secrets to running with a clear head, today’s post is your golden ticket. Say goodbye to those pesky bouts of disorientation!

Remember, the devil is in the details, but don’t fret. Once you implement the strategies we’ve outlined, the rest is a breeze. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, and burning questions. Drop them in the section below, and let’s keep the conversation going.

Thank you for gracing us with your presence today, fellow runner. Your determination and unwavering commitment to training strongly inspire us all. So lace up those shoes, embrace the challenges, and let’s conquer that dizzy dragon together!

Keep training strong,

David D.

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