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What are the causes of people collapsing when running?

5 watchers
Aug 2011
9:29am, 2 Aug 2011
9923 posts
  • 0
Did somebody ask for a physiologist? :)
Aug 2011
9:30am, 2 Aug 2011
90 posts
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Which I should add - I 'know' that muscles demand more oxygen when working harder, I 'know' that the heart moves blood round but somehow hadn't quite connected up the reasoning. I worry myself sometimes....
Aug 2011
9:39am, 2 Aug 2011
9925 posts
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The collapse at the end of a race is. as Stumpy suggests, do to reduced cardiac output from lack of venous return to the heart. Your arteries and veins are maximally dilated and the sudden stop leads to a decreased venous return. This combined with the low resistance offered by your dilated arteries means that your blood flow to the brain is reduced after a few beats and you black out.

The heat business is a different problem. You're movements rely on enzymatic processes. Enzymes only work efficiently within a fairly narrow temperature range and if you overheat they will decrease efficiency and you will slow. Luckily you have a variety of mechanisms that allow you to keep your temperature down, but these can be overwhelmed by being too hot.
Aug 2011
9:42am, 2 Aug 2011
9926 posts
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The amount of oxygen in your bloodstream will rarely drop during exercise, unless you have a significant respiratory condition.
Normal lungs are capable of oxygenating a vast amount of blood, far more than you need at rest and in excess of what most people can achieve during exercise.
Lack of oxygen is the cause of most immediate post race collapses, but it is related primarily to reduction in blood flow, rather than that blood having reduced oxygen content.
Aug 2011
9:50am, 2 Aug 2011
91 posts
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brilliant! Thanks JohnnyO.
Aug 2011
3:02pm, 2 Aug 2011
132 posts
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I collapsed during a race a few years ago, terrifying experience. It was Heat stroke and part of the problem it caused was very high CK levels, a mild form of Rhabdomialysis, I believe. Running a few weeks later was awful felt like I was wading through treacle, I think this was because my muscles had essentially turned to fluid.
i wouldn't recommend it!
Aug 2011
11:36am, 11 Aug 2011
293 posts
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I haven't collapsed (thankgod) however, if I stop running I can feel sick and big black lines creep up my vision. I'm ok but have to stop and put my head between my legs. This happens most often if I run in the morning, which I avoid doing. However, it happens to me a fair bit. I can be running 10-20 mins, stop at traffic lights and that's it. It puts me off so I walk home. I try not to run by myself just in case.

Years ago I was told that I have low blood pressure and when it happened recently I went to the doctors and got it checked. Nothing!

I have no idea why it happens
Aug 2011
11:41am, 11 Aug 2011
13045 posts
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alibob - see my post previous page and JOhnnyO's elaboration of it on this page. keep your legs moving and don't stop suddenly.
Dec 2018
7:17pm, 9 Dec 2018
16982 posts
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From observation: heat, especially unexpected heat and failure to adjust pace for this; overexertion; underfueling; running hard when insufficiently recovered from illness; ; undetected (often cardiac) conditions (the events which generally make the news :-( ).

Up here in the coolish North, I reckon the first the most common, with the second coming into play mainly for marathons or longer.
Dec 2018
6:20am, 10 Dec 2018
33500 posts
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I've never "blacked out" or collapsed during or immediately after a run but I have come close. Usually it's when I finish a race and have to stop so the timing chip can be removed. The worst one was when I had to bend down and take it off my shoe myself. On standing up again I had tunnel vision and the world was spinning in a way it's definitely not supposed to!

All of that I put down to exactly the same reasons explained well by Stumpy and JohnnyO.

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Maintained by agatha
Not anything that I (fortunately) have ever experienced I should clarify.

I'm asking because of ...

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