Friday, July 20, 2012

Heat Kills - Tips to Survive

I will confess that I do not like the summer months here in the Midwest.  Why I listened to Carolynn and moved here from Florida is beyond me.  I remember her saying something about seasons and cooler summers and watching leaves change colors.  Well I would just assume be color blind as spend another year here.  The summers in Kansas City are some of the worst I have ever experienced. I can only recall a few that are worse including one spent in Laural Hill, FL and one in North Carolina - both while racing motocross in full gear.

My troubles with heat had their beginnings back in the late70's/early 80's.  Back then I actually liked the heat.  As a kid I used to climb into my parents 1976 Lincoln, roll up the windows and proceed to bake myself in the summer months.  Our family car acted like a greenhouse, trapping the sun's heat and bringing the temps inside into the 120's.  Basically it was my own personal sauna.  I would stay in that car for up to an hour for no particular reason other than to see how long I could stand the heat.  At the time it actually felt good I guess.  Years later I would use the same technique to try and acclimate myself to the heat for motocross racing.  Needless to say it did not work and by the end of moto's during the summer months I would tear off my gear as quick as possible and head to the nearest source of water.  I wished I new about ice baths back then. 

I stepped away from motocross and ventured into the sport of Triathlon, but my loathing of heat continued to a near death experience.  On a hot summers day, back in 1990,  while competing in the Florida Challenge Triathlon (1/2 Iron man Distance) I experience Heat Stroke first hand.   If it was not for the medical crew that attended to me while I laid along that hot road I would most likely be dead right now - my core temperature above 105 degrees.   After that event I was never the same and have had long term complications dealing with heat.  That is why I do not race nor ride much in the heat anymore.  My body just can not take it and it is just not worth dying over as reported in . There are two types of Heatstroke.  "Exertional" is the type us active folk need to worry about because it can be deadly to those that decide to participate in the heat.

My 10 tips for riding/racing in the heat:
  • Acclimate - workout in the heat at a lower-than-normal intensity.  Cool stuff happens including increased plasma proteins and increased sodium chloride retention.
  • Hydrate! Drink plenty,but be careful not to drink to much.  Water intoxication and hyponatremia are side effects of too much H2O.  Begin hydration well before a planned workout/event - like two to three days.
  • Replenish those lost minerals - Hammer Endurolytes are great. 
  • Wet your clothing.  Why? Water is 25 times more conductive than air, as the water evaporates from your clothing, the captured heat is removed with the water. 
  • Pour cold water over your head.  This has helped me numerous times. Keeping that core temperature down is the key.
  • Consume ice cold water during the ride.  Freeze a water bottle, as it melts then you have a supply of ice cold water. 
  • Stay cool. These cool vest are the ticket. I have also used ice bags placed in my jerseys and around my neck.  A bandana soaked in ice cold water does wonders. 
  • Back the pace down, way down.  This may be one of the most important tips. Forget about PR's or maintaining certain mile splits.  By all means, cease the activity if you experience any symptoms of heat exhaustion (fatigue, weakness, nausea, chills,  headache, dizziness)
  • Shorten your warmup prior to races. 
  • Don't do it.  I only add this because I wish many times that I would have just gone  for a swim or anything other than race in the heat. 
One good item that training in the heat may do.  It may improve our performance in the cold.  Check out this article in the NYTimes.

Good luck and stay cool!

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