run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Safety First-Running in the Heat

We all know that running in the summer is tough and all runners (should) know how to best protect themselves and run more comfortably when it's hot outside. For example:

-dress in cool, moisture-wicking clothing
-drink plenty of water before and during a run-sports drink if the run is an hour or longer
-try to run in the early morning or evening
-wear sunscreen and a hat

I generally practice all of these tips and I'm ok. It's still difficult to adjust to the heat and humidity, but at least I'm not in any danger of heat stroke or exhaustion. However, yesterday was a different story. I went out to run right after work and I felt pretty good for the first mile and a half. And then I realized I wasn't sweating at all. I ran for another mile and began to feel nauseous, dizzy and sort of in outer space-like my brain was all fuzzy. By that point, I had run about 2.5 miles and realized that I should stop running. I had been running at my usual pace, but when I stopped, I was panting and gasping for breath. And then I started getting cold chills. Luckily I was close to home so I was able to get indoors and cool off and in no time, everything was back to normal, but man, was it scary! So today, I want to post the
symptoms of heat stroke- every runner should be aware of them!

flushed red skin
hot, dry skin
difficulty breathing or hyperventilation
a moderate to severe headache
burning sensations in the extremities
disorientation or confusion
lack of perspiration (sweating)
loss of consciousness
sudden chills
unable to run straight (or at all)

If you experience these symptoms-STOP RUNNING!! Get to a cool place, apply cool water to the skin and rehydrate. I did some Internet research this morning and all the sites say to call 911. If immediate treatment is not given, heat stroke is fatal and can cause organ damage.

I'm not sure why my body reacted to the heat like it did yesterday since I've run for much longer in even higher temperatures-plus I drank a lot of water all day, up to the run. I'm just glad that I quit when I did.

Heat Stroke is considered a medical emergency and the most serious of heat-related illnesses, but there are two others that should be mentioned:

Causes: Loss of electrolytes and accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles.
Conditions: Muscle cramps and/or spasms, heavy sweating, normal body temperature.
Treatment: Drink water and sports drink, slow down, massage affected area.

Causes: Intense exercise in a hot, humid condition and loss of electrolytes.
Conditions: Profuse sweating, possible drop in blood pressure (less than 90 systolic, the top number), normal or slightly elevated body temperature, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, decreased coordination, possible fainting.
Treatment: Rest in a cool place, drink water and sports drink, if BP drops below 90 systolic, call EMS, avoid activity for at least 24 hours, refrain from running or exercising in the heat for at least one week.

Sometimes its difficult to get somewhere for help, especially on those long out-and-back runs that are in the middle of nowhere, so it's wise to take along a cell phone. I know it's a pain, but as I learned yesterday, these illnesses can strike even when you take all precautions and even when you're just going out for an easy, short run!

I don't mean to scare anyone, but we've gotta be safe out there! Know the facts!
Have a happy and safe 4th of July!


Amy said...

Nice post, I, too, have been dizzy, goose-bumped and black-outy after a hot, sweaty run... The Music City Half Marathon comes to mind in fact...

April said...

yeah, I remember that your face was white after that race...