By: Angela Ciroalo
Things are heating up at the Jersey Shore – quite literally actually.
Summer has finally set in and runners alike are enjoying every bit of it.
Despite the welcoming temperatures and sun’s refreshing beams, there are some factors that must be considered before jumping onto the pavement to run these next two months.
Photo taken from http://www.philly.com
Heat illness can occur to anyone participating in outdoor activity during a hot day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] reported that between 1999 and 2010 an average of 618 people died in the United States each year due to a health-related illness.
The CDC further stated that heat-related deaths are more common in the United States than deaths due to tornadoes, earthquakes, floods and hurricanes combined.
The cause of a heat illness is often attributed to the body being unable to regulate the internal temperature controls, medicinenet.com reported in a June 2015 article titled, Hypothermia.
During high temperatures, the body will attempt to cool itself down through the evaporation of sweat.
Issues occur, however, when conditions such as high temperatures and humidity levels prevent sweat from evaporating, leaving the body in an overheated state.
Sweat is unable to evaporate as quickly in high heat/humid conditions, preventing heat from being released.
Types of Heat Illnesses
There are several types of heat-related illnesses.
Heat-related illnesses include; heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and hypernatremia, according to the United States Health Service Commission Corporation [HSCC].
Heat cramps are pains most commonly in the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, caused by dehydration, electrolyte loss or inadequate blood flow to muscles.
Heat syncope is the result of decreased blood flow to the brain.
Heat exhaustion is a shock-like condition caused due to the body’s inability to acclimate to the high temperature and level of exercise, combined.
Hyponatremia, or water intoxication, is the attributed to excess water intake without proper electrolyte consumption.
Common symptoms and signs of heat-related illness includes; profuse sweating, dizziness, faintness, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, headache, extreme thirst, chills, and even loss of consciousness.
Photo taken from uchicago.edu
The most severe of the heat-related illnesses is heat stroke.
Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature is too high and the thermal regulatory mechanism is overwhelmed, according to the HSCC.
Heat stroke can occur due to fluid depletion or inability to absorb fluid.
Key signs include hot skin, pale skin, high pulse, high respiratory rate, decreased urine output, a temperature over 104 or 105 decreased Fahrenheit and pupils that are dilated or unresponsive.
Treating Heat Illness
Most of the above stated heat illnesses can be treated by moving the ill person to a cool, shaded area, placing a wet towel on their skin, elevating the feet, and offering them water and/or an electrolyte-filled beverage.
In the event of a more severe heat illness, call emergency personnel immediately.
Tips to Avoid Heat Illness
There are a number of ways to avoid heat-related illness during exercise this summer.
The first and foremost action should be, however, to check the heat index.
The heat index is the air temperature and humidity levels – combined, to provide a description of how the temperature will feel, according to the United States Health Service Commission Corporation [HSCC].
The heat index will determine whether or not it is safe to participate in outdoor activity.
When temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, runners should not partake in outdoor exercise.
To avoid the steaming temperatures of the hot summer days runners can exercise in the early morning or late night hours.
If temperatures are hot, but not hot enough to refrain from participating in exercise, runners should hydrate well throughout the day and during their run, wear lightweight clothing, and exercise for a shorter and slower distance than they regularly do.
Safety precautions should always be taken during hot temperatures in an effort to avoid injury and illness.
Angela’s Summer Running Plan
This summer I will be training for the Atlantic City Marathon, which means I will be outside running – a lot.
In an effort to avoid risk of injury I will be running after sunset and hydrating with additional electrolytes and water throughout each day.
During shorter distance runs I often do not take a water bottle or Camelback water pack with me, although due to the higher temperatures I will.
Taking precaution during exercise is important – not only to avoid injury – but also to improve performance.
The heat can have a severe impact on a runner’s performance, which creates a greater reason to take precaution during these beautiful, hot summer months.
A great quote to get you running this month is from marathon record breaker Bill Rodgers, “Anyone can be a runner. We were meant to move. We were meant to run. It is the easiest sport.”
This article was previously published in Night & Day Magazine
If you have been running outside, share with me some of your warm weather outdoor running tips/suggestions. I would love to hear from you!
Check back in soon to hear more about my training schedule and plans!
❤ Wishing you love, joy and blessings.