Training and Heat Related Maladies


Heat related maladies are no joke, especially when exercising down here in the South.  This past Friday I was reminded how quickly your body can go from running strong to running on empty and then, crash.

Early Friday morning the Rough Runners crew and I ran the Daufuskie Island half marathon course.  When we started the run the temperature was about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  By the end of the run, the temp was in the upper 80’s.

After the 13.1 mile run, we then began to ride the course on bikes.  A few miles into the ride my back stiffened greatly, making it very difficult for me to peddle without great discomfort.  I got off my bike and stretched out on the ground several times.  That felt better but, several minutes later my back was so stiff and tight I could hardly stand it.  I decided to call it quits and peddle back to the Haig Point dock.

before my crash

At the dock, I just was not feeling well.  My girlfriend handed me a cold powerade and told me to drink it.  Reluctantly, I did.  Soon after that, though, I began to feel very ill.  I felt nausea.  Suddenly, the worst cramp I’ve ever experienced hit my right calf forcing me to grit my teeth and pray the pain would go away.  After about twenty seconds the calf muscle loosened up but my nausea progressively grew worse.  I looked up at Kerry and she began to blur out as if I were turning the focus on a camera in the wrong direction.  Her face then began to streak before my eyes and I went down on my knees and began to dry heave.  Fortunately, Kerry, a registered nurse, got me to sit back and quickly began to force feed me a hammer gel, followed by water.  She made me drink more powerade.  She helped me to my feet and guided me to the ferry where I then laid on the floor because I didn’t have the strength to stay up on my feet.  The boat captain brought over some ice cold water bottles and ice.  Kerry placed the ice on the back of my head where it meets the neck.  She placed the two cold water bottles under my arms, in my armpits and, continued to force feed my hammer gels and water.  While this was all happening, Jason took pictures to use as blackmail later.

Finally, though, I began to come to.  Twenty minutes later, we pulled onto mainland on Hilton Head and I was able to walk off the ferry on my own, feeling severely spent.

The rest of the day, I remained completely spent.  I felt as if all of the energy had been sucked out of my body.  We hit a Mexican restaurant where I was revived somewhat more by eating their salty chips and salsa.  When I got home, I showered and went to bed and, quickly fell asleep.  The rest of the weekend, I remained very weak and lethargic.

Heat related maladies can come on quickly and become dangerous just as fast.  You may think that you are hydrating well but always question yourself.  Personally, I thought I was hydrating well.  I was taking a combination of endurolytes and, anti-fatigue pills, one of each every hour during the run and bike and, taking sips from my water bottle regularly.

During the run, I refilled my 20 ounce water bottle twice and, drank a powerade at the convenient store in Freeport (which is along the course).  Before we started riding I chugged down almost a quart of water and refilled my twenty ounce bottle.

My two running and biking mates (Kerry and Jason) didn’t experience what I did and they were hydrating as much as I was.  No one person is the same, though.

I tend to sweat more than the average adventure seeker, especially as the temperature rises.  So, I deplete my sodium and potassium faster than most people doing the same level of activity.  Take for instance, that by the time we hit the 2.4 mile mark, Jason and Kerry’s shirts were halfway soaked from sweat, -where I looked like I had jumped into the ocean in my running clothes.

Drinking water is important but maintaining a healthy level of sodium and potassium intake as I continue to hydrate is equally important.  My intake balance between water and sodium and potassium was off obviously and, drinking more water began to make me feel gravely ill.

Please take note from my dreadful experience this past Friday and hydrate well and replenish your electrolytes accordingly while exercising on hot days in the South.  The mishap I suffered could of been much worse than it was.  I was fortunate enough to have a nurse on hand to help me get through this heat related malady before serious damage occurred.

Keep your training going but be careful out there!  Learn how your body reacts to heat and train smart.

Wishing you many happy miles of training this summer!