08.4.2006 | 8:25 pm

I’ve noticed something lately whenever I stand up, go up a flight of stairs, or otherwise surge from inactivity to moderate activity:
I feel like I’m going to fall over.
This is new.
However, I remember the last time I was fast and light (about four years ago, I think) I had the same issue. And today as we left Rick Maddox and Dug in the dust as we rode an easy pace up to the top of the Alpine Loop, I asked Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) if the same thing happens to him. It does.
So now I’ve got two questions for all you cyclists for which fitness is not a new sensation:
1. Do you get the same kind of dizziness I’m talking about here?
2. If so, do you know why?
My Theory
I’ve got this theory, for which I have no scientific research backing me up, on why this is happening: The fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate. So, if you’re sitting around and your heart is beating at 46bpm, then you suddenly stand up, it takes a moment for your heart to spool up to a rate fast enough for your suddenly-active body to get blood to your noggin.
Am I right? I thought so.
PS: I am going to pick up the Weapon of Choice after work today, and will be doing a shakedown ride tomorrow. I will report my results either during the weekend or on Monday.
PPS: The Tour of Utah starts next week. Yay! Have you entered the contest to win the Cervelo Soloist Team, yet?


  1. Comment by UltraRob | 08.4.2006 | 8:49 pm

    I think your theory is pretty close to correct.  I’ve heard it is because of blood pressure dropping when you stand up and it taking a bit to respond.  Having a low heart rate may make increase the response time.  I also find that this is a measure of my fitness.  It rarely happens when I’m at average fitness but when I’m really fit like I was before RAAM I really had to be careful when I stood up.  It’s not happening now and that along with other things pretty much tell me where my fitness is.  Wasn’t it Andy Hampsten that crashed several years ago after a motorpacing workout when his blood pressure dropped too fast when he went from all out to coasting when his workout was finished?

  2. Comment by craig | 08.4.2006 | 9:05 pm

    Elden, while that is a fair theory, and may apply to other cyclists, the actual reason for you is as follows.  Because of the new training and ‘nutrition’ program we embarked on together, your hemocrit level is close to 75%.   Therefore, your blood is actually three times heavier than it used to be.  When you stand up, it drains out of your head faster than normal (like lead pellets on Jupiter) ……..and voila…..the dizziness you refer to.  Don’t worry about it at all. Have some Paella and chill out. 

  3. Comment by Sydney | 08.4.2006 | 9:08 pm

    it’s funny that you bring this topic up – i got up to go outside and get some air from a stuffy restaurant last week that made me feel dizzy.. took about 2 steps before i fainted and hit my mouth on a table on my way down to the ground.  needless to say i’ll be going through a lot of dental work in the upcoming months.  don’t remember going down though.  blood pressure was only 80/50 in the ambulance.  my best advice.. if you ever feel that way again.. don’t try to walk!

  4. Comment by Sydney | 08.4.2006 | 9:14 pm

    just posted the fainting comment.. if you’re interested i’ll let you know what the cardiologist says about my fainting.. never thought i’d have to go see one of those at the young age of 27!

  5. Comment by Unknown | 08.4.2006 | 9:29 pm

    I have the same experience but have almost always had this problem.  Therefore I don’t think it is linked to fitness as much as a slow resting heartbeat.  I have not always been exactly an olympian, but have always had a slow resting heartrate.
    That is I think I agree…but  I really don’t know if this is true either…. 

  6. Comment by Olivia | 08.4.2006 | 9:38 pm

    Funny you mention that.  Over the past month, I have noticed an unusual amount of dizziness, especially when I get up from a resting position.  This is new with me also.  I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but I certainly have not increased my fitness level by any amount that would change my heart rate over the last month.  A training friend suggested in imbalance in electrolytes due to the heat.  I have upped the Gatorade intake, but no success in eliminating the dizziness yet.  No clue.  I would love to get rid of it, and am interested to hear what everyone else thinks. 

  7. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 08.4.2006 | 10:19 pm

    Hey, you never revealed your ‘Fat Cyclist’ logo, but I just noticed it at the bottom of the ‘Win a Cervelo Soloist’ add. Is that the official fatty logo? I like it. I have never put a bumper sticker on any of my vehicles, but I would definitely put one (or two) on if you had some made. Also, I’m considering a tatoo. Just can’t decide whether it should go on private place or on the back of my neck so you can see it when we ride.
    P.S. Seriously, how ’bout a limited run of jerseys? How many people here (besides me) are geeky enough to pitch in to get some fat cyclist jerseys made?
    P.P.S. I wish I could see dug’s face when he reads this post. . . August 04 8:34 AM

  8. Comment by JPSOCAL | 08.4.2006 | 11:03 pm

    Yep it’s a combination of lower then normal Blood Pressure and a low heart rate. I take blood pressure medication and beta blockers plus being in fairly decent shape and yes i get dizzy often when standing up too quickly. In fact one day after a ride I passed out…..not fun but interesting…..in the Chinese curse sense of the word(may you live in interesting times).

  9. Comment by bradley | 08.4.2006 | 11:03 pm

    I can’t tell if I’m logged in here, am I? Is this a live spaces feature, not being able to use your name when logged in?
    Anyway, I get dizzy, but I’m not sure why it happens, and I even asked my doctor. He had no clue. I don’t know what my resting heart rate is, though I do have a healthy blodd pressure, maybe even on the lower side. I figured the dizziness was due to advancing age, being eight years older than FC (you do the math!). Maybe a tatoo or some piercing would take care of it?

  10. Comment by James | 08.4.2006 | 11:26 pm

    Assuming you have no underlying cardiovascular or neurological disease, its likely you’re simply dehydrated — or as the gas station guys say: You’re about a quart low.
    Maintaining blood flow to the brain is a complex thing involving how fast your heart beats (heart rate), how strong it beats (contractility), getting blood from the periphery (in this case your legs) to the heart (so it can be pumped out again) and the control system (central nervous system). If you’re low on fluids (including a lower blood volume) and a normal amount of blood rushes to your ankles when you stand up, less is left up top for your heart to squirt brainwards. And you solve the problem by falling down and breaking your neck.
    So, like they say on TV, drink plenty of fluids. And what they don’t say on TV, don’t be afraid to sit back down and put your head between your knees. You’ll never get to Leadville with a broken neck.

  11. Comment by Christina | 08.5.2006 | 12:55 am

    Dude, I know exactly what’s happening (in case you’re interested).  It’s called orthostatic hyptension.  What happens is: your nervous system cannot compensate fast enough for a change in body position or cardiac output.  So while your sitting around doing nothing your cardiovascular system vasodilates (your veins get slack), when you change position your sympathetic nervous system doesn’t compensate fast enough (by vasoconstricting) and so your blood pressure drops and you feel faint because your brain doesn’t have enough go-juice. (Body moves faster than your veins tighten up, so there’s not enough blood moving and it makes you light headed)
     This has nothing to do with fitness, it’s an idosyncratic thing that just happens some times.  For Andy Hampsten (the cyclist who went from all out to coast), it was the exact opposite.  His nervous system didn’t compensate quickly enough for the activity change and he had a date with the pavement.
    I’ve studied this in school (when I took physiology and passed it, and during my work on an ambulance) so I know what I’m talking about. 
    If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me and I can give you more info.  Hope this helps.

  12. Comment by James | 08.5.2006 | 2:02 am

    farva: its orthostatic hypotension.
    Fatty: Here is an article that will make you wish you had never asked the question.
    Orthostatic Intolerance: An Overview.
    And what a view it is. It starts with a friendly warning ("Orthostatic intolerance is a confusing topic."), sucks you in with words any reasonable person can understand ("The term orthostasis literally means standing upright.") and then wanders off into incomprehensibility ("While orthostatic intolerance may be the most salient finding, this intolerance is only the most obvious manifestation of a more widespread impairment in integrative neurovascular physiology.") Oy!
    Then, after thousands of words and a brilliant review of the literature, the three line summary includes the words, "Acute orthostatic intolerance is characterized by simple faint. Despite its ubiquity, scientists do not yet understand why particular people faint."
    Why do you get dizzy? Nobody knows.

  13. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 08.5.2006 | 3:05 am

    I love all of these "experts" chiming in.
    Here’s the truth… You’re getting old and your body simple can’t handle jumping up out of chairs like it used to.  Please don’t question my expertise in this matter.  After all, I turn 39 next week.
     . . . . . . .
    Either that, or you suffer from the very rare neuro-physiological disorder, Momentary Acrophobic Vertigo.

  14. Comment by ...And The Little Minion | 08.5.2006 | 3:13 am

    As another thought… dehydration? It is hot and you are exercising lots, and need TONS of water.

  15. Comment by Tyler | 08.5.2006 | 3:34 am

    Here’s another opportunity to curse livespaces!And, also, I was going to say something about the standing up thing that was theoretically kind of funny like, yes it does, but only because it takes a moment to banish all the little gremlins that are forever flying just over my head…
    But everyone else’s was WAY funnier, so I’m out.

  16. Comment by sans auto | 08.5.2006 | 4:15 am

    Farva hit the nail on the head, it’s orthostatic hypotension and is fairly common, I get it all the time and have since I was in my teens.  You just sort of live with it.
       When you exerciseyour blood vessels get bigger to get blood to muscles, when you rest they constrict to keep blood in brain.  This is true, except for when you first start exercising.  When your wife tells you to take the garbage out and you spring to action, if your vessels instantly dialated, you would not have blood in your brain and you would pass out.  So they constrict and then dialate while maintaining blood flow to the brain.  It is a well choreographed transition.   As you have been training regularly, you have established a fight over blood between your brain and your legs.  The last time you increased your energy level, you climbed 1500 feet as fast as you could.  Now as you jump to get the garbage, your body is expecting the worst and demanding as much blood as possible.  Unfortunately your brain lost and you felt the lack of blood in the brain.  The good news is that your legs are stronger than your brain.  The bad news is that your choreography is off and your body’s intricate dance with itself may cause you to pass out.

  17. Comment by Jsun | 08.5.2006 | 6:58 am

    This is fantastic news! 
    I can apply this super fit theory to my own questionable health.  Like the other day when I got out of breath going up a couple flights of stairs = super cardio endurance from training for Leadville since early July,  or how my legs felt like hardening concrete after a ‘taper’ ride last week = a strict fitness regime is not neccesary, I am an olympian God.  So to be 40 and in the best shape of my life I don’t need a Bowflex, just a few cigarettes and a beer bong.
    See you at Leadville, I will be the guy testing out the new rituals.  hmm maybe I could hydrate with one of those beer hats  http://www.zymetrical.com/product.asp?3=830&dc=JSA/Q/w/u3/8W&gclid=CK_O–_7×4YCFUs9GAodBTiV8Q

  18. Comment by barry1021 | 08.5.2006 | 8:30 am

    As usual FC, everybody is wrong and I have the answer. The earth is rotating on its axis at 1000 miles per hour. It is moving around the sun at 18.55 miles per second. Not only that, the whole Milky Way (hmmmm, chocolate!) galaxy is rotating as well. You’re lucky you can stand at all.

  19. Comment by Sue | 08.5.2006 | 1:16 pm

    Since the problem is with "impairment in integrative neurovascular physiology" I had all my neurovascular physiology un-integrated, and I FEEL GREAT!
    B21, as usual your keen intellect has cut through the clutter of lesser minds.

  20. Comment by Unknown | 08.6.2006 | 1:07 am

    An EKG, CAT scan, chest x-rays, blood workup, and 5 stitches has "encouraged" me to figure out how to avoid this problem.  My doctor was pretty clueless, he said it was dehydration, but I weigh myself regularly pre and post workout and I wasn’t very dehydrated that day.
    I lose tons of salt in my sweat.  Since salt raises your blood pressure, it seems possible losing salt might lower it.  Working under that theory, I have a can of Campbell’s soup after a hard workout – 1800mg of salt.  So far (several months now), it seems to be making a difference.  If I skip it (hot soup isn’t my first choice when it’s 105 outside), I do sometimes get dizzy.  But I never get dizzy if I’ve had the soup.  As always, YMMV.

  21. Comment by sans auto | 08.6.2006 | 5:32 am

    It sounds like we should have a little lesson on hyponatriemia from an exercise physiologist.  This is when the electrolytes in your body become diluted with too much water.  Your body doesn’t like this and it makes you dizzy and otherwise feel awful.  In my experience, it feels like a really bad bonk accompanied by a headache, dizzyness and blurry thoughts.  I have only been there a couple of times (I’ve learned from it and choose not to visit that place anymore), and it could be that my hyponatriemia was accompanied by a bonk.  Diluted electrolytes will make you dizzy, but the problem will be solved by replacing the sodium and potassium that you have lost in your sweat.  When the light headedness comes from standing up quickly, it is likely orthostatic hypotension which you can’t really do anything about (except stand up slower).  If the problem is electrolytes, you need to find a way to replace them while you ride.  I noticed in an earlier post that Fatty said he was going to ride with water at Leadville, generally this is a bad idea for an 8 hour ride ( I have confidence in you Fatty).  If you lose sodium, potasium and water in your sweat and then replace it with plain water, you are just inviting problems.  You need to replace the electrolytes.  Gatorade, Powerade and most other sports drinks have what you need in them.  Besides that, the saltiness that makes them taste bad keeps you thirsty which helps you drink more.  Electrolytes are involved in sending messages through the nervous system, it’s not a good thing to mess with.

  22. Comment by Born4Lycra | 08.6.2006 | 9:07 am

    Giggling childishly as I type. Not sure if BigMike has pointed this out previously but down here, down under a bonk is physical activity between two persons which often ends with a little light headidness some might call it dizziness and the commitment to undying love. So possibly before you stood up you were otherwise engaged.
    I subscribe to the Hypotension theory for what its worth. I’m also rather foolishly hanging on to the hope that Floydd is innocent but it is getting harder by the minute.
    Good luck to you and others on the Leadville next weekend.

  23. Comment by Sue | 08.6.2006 | 3:12 pm

    Born4 — Ah, nevermind. . .
    sans auto — Whereas you and I might carbo-load before a big event (or, indeed eat a carb-rich diet during the training/racing season) Fatty salt-loads. A few days ago, when I went over to his house to pick up the bike rack PVC pipe he was giving me, I noticed a 1/2 eaten 25lb mineral block (normally useds for cattle) in his garage. He told me he goes through 3-4 of those blocks a month and he usually keeps one on his desk, in case he gets the munchies at work.
    P.S. Seriously, when Fatty races, you don’t have to worry about hyponatremia (in fact one must wonder about hypernatremia) because he drinks (quiver) a can of Cambell’s (wave of nausea) Chicken and Stars soup at every aid station (I need to go vomit). Each serving of that soup has the same sodium RDA as is recommended for the entire state of Rhode Island.
    P.P.S. Did I mention that he drinks the soup cold? Right from the can? I mean for the love of God! Is there anything this man won’t eat?

  24. Comment by quickKarl | 08.6.2006 | 3:30 pm

    i have the same problem.  found out about it one night when i passed out after getting up to haed to the bath room. my wife was so upset she made me go to the doc the next day.
    after many checks and test, he saaid it was vaso vasgal syncope. he told me to get up slower and make sure i stay hydrated  when riding.

  25. Comment by Jon Paul | 08.6.2006 | 10:01 pm

    What weapon did you pick? Thanks for the review of the Clif Shot Bloks. They really helped. I did a personal best of 42 miles at the Naperville (IL) Rotary Club charity ride today. I’m still hoping for a century before the year ends.

    Best of luck on the Leadville 100! Thanks for all the inspiration.


  26. Comment by sans auto | 08.7.2006 | 4:10 pm

    Some guys use Gatorade, others use a salt lick… I guess my exercise physiology professor overlooked that.

  27. Comment by Unknown | 08.7.2006 | 8:41 pm

    I’m not a real doctor, but I have picked up enough information on the World Wide Web to impersonate one in blog postings. The dizziness you describe is a good example of CFS (Counterintuitive Fitness Syndrome), the gist of which is that you become more and more physiologically unstable the healthier you become. ACFS – Acute Counterintuitive Fitness Syndrome – is usually only experienced by elite athletes. Symptoms are sudden death and difficulty urinating, the second symptom quickly following the first.
    It’s been well documented that athletes suffer from sinus bradycardia (a lowered heartrate when watching Brady Bunch reruns, accompanied by sneezing). Recent studies have shown that some arrhythmias are common among runners, while some – for example testicular arrhythmia from having given one or more nuts, usually the left, in exchange for a bike with a full carbon frame – are more often experienced by cyclists. All things considered, you sound just unfit enough to still be functional.

  28. Comment by jim | 08.8.2006 | 1:54 pm

    The last time I experience this dizzy effect was when I was in the best shape of my life.  So I think your theory may hold some water.  Sadly, it has been a long time since I have felt this light headed buzz.  I guess that tells me something.

  29. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 08.9.2006 | 4:39 pm

    BIg Mike, that was priceless.
    I think there’s going to be a really sweet Paragon for sale at a highly reduced price *right* after the end of Leadville.
    Warning: Unsolicited advice follows. Keeping your momentum over technical stuff is super important with a rigid bike.

  30. Comment by alex | 08.26.2006 | 2:56 pm

    u relli fat


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