Couch to 5K
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Headache after running?

Hi all. I'm somewhere around week 4 of the programme (I say somewhere, as I'm kind of doing my own version) and can now run continuously for 4 minutes, which feels amazing. The trouble is that I seem to be getting a headache after every run. Does anyone else get this? And if so, how do you prevent it? I try to make sure I'm hydrated before a run, but I don't want to drink too much as I don't want all the water sloshing around in my belly as I run. I also drink at least a glass of water when I come back, and I make sure I eat something once I've cooled off. Is there anything else I should be doing?

6 Replies

I have no idea why you're getting the headaches, but from what I've read, I doubt if it's a hydration issue. A lot of the lore around hydration is not correct, and you can over-hydrate, even.

I'd be surprised if it was a tension headache, too. Presumably even if you're stressed out by the running, afterwards you'd feel relieved to be free again.

The thing to watch out for, and see if you can google something up on it is whether it might be somehow spinal column related (especially if you've had back problems?). It's your head, after all. Not something to mess with.

The kind of thing I'm mostly thinking of was the back pain I once got at the end of exercise, getting seated in the car. I think I transitioned to a stop too rapidly. Definitely what fixed it for me was to switch to very long cool downs. A few long cool downs are quite an easy experiment to try. (My back hurt about midway, but if your neck hurts instead, you might end up feeling that as a headache).


Dehydration is one of the most common causes for headaches so make sure you drink enough earlier on in the day. A normal size glass of water before and after your run should be more than enough.

Other potential causes are that it could be due to high blood pressure so be sure to get that checked. Could also be from tension in your neck and spine so make sure your back, shoulders and arms stay relaxed when you are running. Lift your chest up and out, chin up, shoulders down and relaxed.

The other alternative is a caffeine withdrawal headache? Sometimes this can be an issue so make sure you stay on your usual amount of caffeinated drinks. Avoid "energy" drinks eg Red Bull etc like the plague.

Hope that helps!

Happy running :-)

1 like

Hi Heyjude77

Well done on getting up to 4 minutes of continuous running! Glad to hear that it feels amazing for you too.

It could be a hydration issue along with a host of other scenarios :p) Do you sweat alot when you run? What time of day do you normally go? In terms of hydration it would be better to drink water throughout the day rather than having the bulk of it before you run. A good way to tell if you are dehydrated is by your wee.. The yellower / smellier it is, the more dehydrated you are. You could always take a bottle with you to hold while you run and have little sips of water along the way.

Personally, I have found that if I run in the morning soon after I have woken up (when I am a little dehydrated), I am likely to get a head ache. If I go around 3 hours after waking / midday onwards then I’ve had enough time to get some water on board and do not get headaches.

As gary_bart says, perhaps hydration isn’t the issue but just check your peee :)


Thanks for the advice. Though I do sweat quite a bit when I'm running, it sounds like the problem isn't dehydration. I usually drink water throughout the day as well as before and after a run, and my pee passes the test :-)


Exercise can sometimes be a trigger for people who suffer from migraines too


I hadn't thought about that. I do get migraines, but my triggers are usually stress, missing a meal or red wine. I cycle regularly and that never gives me a migraine, so it never occurred to me that running might cause one.


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