Monday, April 27, 2009

Good, Good, Good, Good Hydration!

Man, what a beautiful North Carolina day. Went for an 8-mile run at 1:30. I know, probably not the best thing to do, running in the middle of the day. Since I've been out of work, the "honey-do" and "daddy-do" lists have gotten longer and longer so, I take the time to run when I can get it. Today it happened to be at 1:30. Not only was it a beautiful day, it was a hot one too! 85°F with an UV Index of 9. Luckily the humidity wasn't as high as it will be in the summer. This is unusually hot for an NC spring, but I'll take it!

My run reminded me of two things. First, I should always tell someone where I'm running. In this day and age of texting, emails, and voice mail, it only takes a few seconds. But did I think to do it? Nope. Not until I was at about mile 4 (about the time the deer bolted out in front of me and just about ran me over, which happened just prior to me jumping over some kind of snake that slithered in my path) did I remember I should have texted my wife or kids where I'd be running. My lovely encounters with nature made me realize that even on a simple run, anything can happen. Best, to let your friends and/or family know where you'll be in case something happens. I should know better since I have this odd knack for attracting wild animals during my runs—wild geese, bees, deer, a rabid coyote, a copperhead, raccoons, a mocking bird with a vendetta against me, a hawk, and a loose bull.

The second thing is to make sure you hydrate well, especially during the hotter months of the year. Luckily I had the foresight to stop and get some Gatorade before my run. I also picked up a bottle of chocolate milk for my post-run recovery drink. I had been sipping on a bottle of water earlier in the morning, so I felt pretty good at the start of the run. By mile 4, I was feeling the heat and was sweating like a pig. I should have been sipping on the Gatorade while running, but nevertheless, I downed half the bottle and saved the other half for the return. Other than feeling a little drained, from the heat, my run went well. I had hydrated prior to the run, during the run, and had my recovery chocolate milk after the run.

Most of us sweat when we run and most of us sweat even more during the hotter months. If you're like me, you sweat a whole lot more! In a previous posting "Fuel for the Long Run" I provided info on how to figure out how much you need to drink based on how much you sweat while running. As a runner, you need to be aware of how much your sweat on various runs, under various conditions, and at various times of the day. Especially if you're running a lot. Use the test below to help determine your sweat rate.

Sweat Rate Test:
1. Weight before running; record the amount
2. Run for 60 minutes
3. Weight after running; record the amount
4. Calculate the difference of the two weights; record the amount
5. Each pound lost = 16oz of fluids
6. Record the temperature and pace of run

Runners also need to be aware of the signs of severe dehydration such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, not only for yourself, but so you'll be able to identify the symptons if a fellow runner is experiencing heat-related problems.

MedicineNet says that heat exhaustion usually develops after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate intake of fluids. The elderly and people with high blood pressure are prone to heat exhaustion as well as people working or exercising in the heat. Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and/or fainting. With heat exhaustion, the person's skin may feel cool and moist.
Cooling off is the main treatment for heat exhaustion. Drinking cool, non-alcoholic liquids may help as well as taking a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath. Getting into an air-conditioned environment will also help. If the conditions worsen or have not subsided within an hour, seek medical attention. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it may lead to heatstroke which needs immediate emergency medical attention (call 911).
The Mayo Clinic says that heatstroke is the most severe of the heat-related problems. Like heat exhaustion, it often results from exercise or heavy work in hot environments combined with inadequate fluid intake. Children, older adults, obese people, and people who do not sweat properly are at high risk of heatstroke. Other factors that increase the risk of heat stroke include dehydration, alcohol use, cardiovascular disease and certain medications. Heatstroke is life threatening because the body loses its ability to deal with heat can't sweat or control the body's temperature. Symptoms of heatstroke include rapid heartbeat, rapid and shallow breathing, elevated or lowered blood pressure, lack of sweating, irritability, confusion or unconsciousness, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, headache, nausea, and/or fainting.

If you suspect heatstroke, call 911 immediately! Then try to move the person out of the sun and into a shady or air-conditioned space. Then cool the person by spraying them with cool water or wrapping them in cool damp sheets, fan the person, and if possible try to get the person to drink cool water.

No comments: