I'll agree with several people here who have reported hydration was the key. I found the same thing.
I haven't found carb-loading to be significant but this may be a reflection of my pace (8:30 min/mile). If I pushed harder, nutrition would likely be more critical. But then so would other factors. But they trail so far behind proper hydration in significance. And proper hydration is trickier than many people realize.
I've done 15 HMs, with and without carb-loading, and found no difference as long as I eat reasonably early the morning of the race and, if feeling like it, during the race.
PS: No matter what I eat, I always find the last mile of a HM to be a killer!
Fueling during runs was key for my headaches as well. I also managed to lose a ton of weight (way back when I was running 10 milers 2-3x a week) by fueling extra only on my runs. I actually fuel with those baby food squeezy pouches. Quick to consume, but not super heavy in my stomach and doesn't make me feel sick (like gels can), and nothing engineered in a lab-- just fruits and veggies. Prior to discovering how to fuel on my runs so that I could run and not gain-- I would actually black out after runs because I would wait until I was home to eat-- and I wound up on the kitchen floor a few times while waiting for my food. And of course-- come to with a major migraine.
I've never carb loaded for long runs. In fact, the only distance I ever carb loaded for was my full marathon. I would try skipping the carb load prior to your runs and try better fueling during and post run to see if that makes a difference.
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I too was getting terrible headaches post run when I first began tackling the long distances. For me the key was hydration. for 24+ hours post long run, I make sure I have water at hand, and drink at least a few ounces every hour through the day.
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I was also suffering from migraines after my long runs for awhile. I thought my problem was hydration and fuel so I invested in a hand held water bottle and started using gels prior to and gummies during 10+ mile runs. I've also prioritized drinking a ton of water after the run. I have not added any additional carb loading. I am pleased to say I haven't had a migraine in months. I also haven't gained any weight, but lost a bunch. Maybe you can get by without the carbs?
That sounds like a conundrum. You might try to roll back a little on the carb loading, and try to find a middle ground. My guess would be that the gels are more important in keeping away the migraines.
I have also come to realize that sometimes different fitness goals can work against each other in some people. It might mean that being able to maintain a long run slows down weight loss goals. There is nothing wrong with being a 5K specialist.
I have been doing a lot of longer runs 10 m, 13 m. But found that I was getting post run migraines. Really bad ones. I decided to try two things, carb load 1-2 days before, and use a homemade mid-run gel.
Good news, no post run migraine!
Bad news, weight gain. I popped up 2.5 KG (68.5) over the carb load and run dates. I thought at first that it was just water retention from carb loading. But it has not been eliminated. I am now back down to 67 KG, at total gain of 1 kg. I just don't know how long it takes to uncarb load. A little frustrating....
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