I’ve recently started running again, trying to work my distance up to 15 miles so I can compete (I use the term “compete” loosely) in the Iron Warrior Dash in March. The Iron Warrior Dash is a 15.2 mile off-road run that features 25 obstacles along the way, not including the varied terrain, elevation changes and natural obstacles…but enough about the race, that was not the point of this blog.

I’ve noticed that after my longer runs that I could smell something that reeked of household cleaner or ammonia and it seemed to be emanating from my body. I know, what the heck? At first I thought it was in my head, then after the second time, I though maybe my wife changed the laundry soap, but after the third time I was convinced it was coming from me and I was a little worried so I did a quick Google search and found out something very interesting. When your body is working hard and lacks adequate carbs for fuel, it burns protein. When it burns protein, a byproduct of the metabolism of the protein is ammonia. The fact is everyone burns off some protein while exercising but if you have adequate water intake, the ammonia is diluted and not always noticeable.

So what does this mean? Well, first off, I’m not drinking enough water while exercising, a common error when the weather is cooler like it is now, and second, my carb intake before and during my runs is inadequate. Both problems are easily remedied now that I know what is going on with my body. I’ll be adding a running belt to my next long run as well as some carb replacement bars or gels. Problem solved.

Hope you found this as interesting as I did.

Steve @ACK