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If I "push it" on the treadmill or during a race, for a sustained amount of time (as little as, say, 10 minutes), I will likely experience something that is a little hard to describe but I will attempt to do so. It is basically a metallic "taste", although it seems to be originating from my head, and it's more like a general sense of metal rather than a taste. If my brain had tastebuds, this would be what I'm experiencing. This may sound ridiculous to you or you may say "that's it!", I suppose your mileage may vary (pun intended).

I thought it might be blood, which would account for the metal sense, but I never see any blood.

I am taking no drugs and do not have any diagnosed medical conditions, and I'm 40 years old. I think this has been happening ever since I had the ability to run, so pretty much since tykehood.

Here is an interesting link but I'm still not satisfied. The mention of "taste phantoms" seems like a possible jumping-off point, though.

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Medical-Research-Internet-1426/METALLIC-TASTE-MOUTH.htm

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Not sure in your scenario, but as one possible clue metallic taste is often a sign of being in ketosis. If you'ved burned off any available blood sugar during your push, perhaps there's a common cause? –  Greg Jan 29 at 17:14
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Barring any unknown medical issues, it's possible that you're simply exerting beyond your heart's ability to keep up, so to speak. The fact that you mention that this occurs when you push yourself. At rest, your heart pumps out as much blood as it pumps in. Blood from the body comes into the heart via the right side (atrium to ventricle) which is then pumped to the lungs for reoxygenation. That reoxygenated blood then goes back to the heart (the left side) to be sent to the rest of the body (and then that spent blood goes back to the heart via the right, etc.).

When the left side isn't efficiently able to keep up with the demands of your body, fluid starts collecting in minute traces in your lungs, sort of as a backlog. And since you're breathing, you're catching the scent and a small amount of the taste (which is tied to smell anyway) of the hemoglobins in your blood.

When you rest, your heart begins to catch back up to the body's slowly decreasing demand and the smell likely goes away at that point.

http://www.runnersgoal.com/why-do-i-have-a-metallic-taste-in-my-mouth-during-strenuous-exercise/ http://www.livestrong.com/article/322820-metallic-taste-in-the-mouth-during-exercise/

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