Some LIKE it hot? NOT!
Some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on
Some feel the heat and decide that they can’t go on
Some like it hot, but you can’t tell how hot ’til you try
Some like it hot, so let’s turn up the heat ’til we fry
Feel the heat pushing you to decide
Feel the heat burning you up, ready or not
(Lyrics from the song ‘Some Like It Hot’ by The Power Station – 1985
You may have heard it said about a person that they were ‘not worth their salt’. This phrase refers to the practice of paying Roman soldiers partially in salt. Salt was an expensive commodity because it was scarce in the ancient world. This salt money payment given to the Legionnaires was called ‘salarium’ and our modern English word salary is derived from that.
Roman soldiers used salt to help prevent muscle cramps from dehydration, and this is why ‘some’ people still think taking salt tablets is a good idea. Maybe if you were living back in the nineteenth century or earlier.
The chemical name for common table salt is ‘sodium chloride’ but when athletes sweat during extreme exertion and in high heat conditions, what they are really losing in their perspiration is electrolytes. Electrolytes are types of ‘salts’ which include not only sodium and chloride, but potassium and calcium as well. They are electrically charged minerals and compounds that produce energy in our bodies and allow our muscles to contract. Physical performance is affected by both the loss of electrolytes AND water! Low electrolyte levels will cause muscle cramping. Severe electrolyte imbalances can cause serious problems such as coma, seizures, and cardiac arrest.
Electrolyte pills should ONLY be used by athletes during extreme workouts and long distance runs, especially during periods of high heat and humidity.
Likewise severe loss of water (dehydration) can kill you! Water is one of the seven vital nutrients that our bodies NEED to survive.
There needs to be a balance of the electrolyte and water content in our bodies. This is regulated by our kidneys. The kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid from the body, producing about 1 to 2 quarts (liters) of urine daily.
Urine should be clear or a lightly tinted yellow color. The darker the color of your urine, the grater the level of dehydration.
Athletes need to train in order to improve their physical performance. Training schedules need to be strictly followed to get the most out of the training effect . Bad weather can delay training by a day or two AT MOST, but skipping entire weeks will undo everything you are trying to accomplish. If you are training for a fall marathon, you will be running 3 to 4 days a week, all summer long, probably in high heat and high humidity. At least one of those weekly run days will be your long run. Yes, it’s going to be hot during the summer. So logically, you are going to be hot, sweaty, tired, and thirsty towards the end of your workouts, and especially during those long runs. The average person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 liters, or 27.4 to 47.3 ounces per hour of exercise. (That’s equal to roughly one to three pounds of body weight.) You need to replace that fluid loss!
The general rule of thumb for fluid consumption during runs is: Take in 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. Runners running faster than 8-minute miles should drink 6 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes. You may need more, you may need less, but it is of the utmost importance that you listen to YOUR BODY! Everybody is different, and EVERY BODY is different.
Heat Exhaustion VS Heat Stroke
You may at some point experience some symptoms of HEAT EXHAUSTION, you DO NOT want it to become HEAT STOKE. HYDRATION IS CRUCIAL!
- dizzy or fainting
- heavy sweating
- cold, pale and clammy skin
- nausea or vomiting
- fast, weak pulse
- weakness or muscle cramps
- excessive thirst
What to do
- Hydrate with water or sports drinks. No alcohol.
- Move to a cooler, air-conditioned place.
- Lie down.
- If fully conscious, sip water.
- Take a cool shower or use cold compresses.
- If vomiting continues, seek medical attention.
- Act quickly. Untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.
- Remove tight fitting clothing or extra layers.
Heat stroke – a medical emergency
- confusion or delirium
- may lose consciousness
- no sweating/dry skin
- hot, red skin
- nausea or vomiting
- rapid heart rate
- body temperature above 104° F
What to do
- Call 911. This is a medical emergency.
- Move the person to a cooler place.
- Use cold compresses to reduce body temperature.
- Do not give fluids
The mind / body disconnect
It is very important to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! I cannot stress this enough. YOUR BODY is YOUR BODY. You know what works for YOU. You know what YOU need. Sometimes athletes push past what their body is telling them and force themselves to continue on by sheer force of will. This is a mind/body disconnect where you are ‘in the zone’. You refuse to give up because quitters never win, winners never quit, and YOU ARE A WINNER! You yelled! You cursed! You prayed to God for strength! And you pushed your way through to the end with blood, sweat and tears. And hopefully you got stronger from the experience. Believe me, I’ve let out a primal scream or two myself as I forced my exhausted body and tired muscles to up the pace as I charged towards the finish line in a mad sprint of speed.
There are times that I’ve beaten myself up because I’ve run at a much slower pace than I know I am capable of. The problem is that heat changes pace! The hotter it gets, the worse your pace becomes because of the added stress of high heat and humidity. Training is Summer is tough! Optimal running temperature is between 50°F and 59°F. Average runners add 2–2.5 seconds to their pace for every degree F above 59° F. Once you get above 85°F your speed is about 20-25% (or more ) slower than normal, so you push harder because you can’t understand why you are suddenly running like a snail on a course made of peanut butter! It’s okay to do that, but it’s not okay to ignore your thirst in high heat and humidity. Dehydration if left untreated leads to HEAT STROKE. Twice this Summer, I ran out of water 2-3 miles before I ended my long run. Believe me, it sucked!
It’s better to heave water you don’t need than to need water you don’t have. On long runs, you need to self carry water, or pre-stash personal water supplies along your route where you know the will be undisturbed if discovered by passers-by. I use both methods. Last week I ran 15 miles for my long run using the Hal Higdon Training plan for marathons. I ran out of water at mile 12 because it was 92°F but felt like 100°F with the humidity added. Today I will be running 16 miles on a different trail, and will bring a lot more with me. Hopefully It won’t be as hot as last Sunday!
As always I wish you success and happiness!