If the tricks for running in extreme heat come from someone who is used to run in one of the most inhospitable and hot places in the world, it is best to follow them. Chris Kostman is the race director of the dreaded and very hot Badwater 135: 217 miles in California’s Death Valley on asphalt so hot you have to run on white stripes or your soles will melt, and a pleasant temperature that touches peaks of 54°C.
Among his advice-told to Canadian Running Magazine-there are familiar things and others a bit more unexpected. Let’s see them.
1. Dress wisely
Choose polypropylene or polyester apparel in light colors. It may not be the most environmentally friendly choice, but in this case cotton is not the most suitable material: while it may give a pleasant feeling of well-being at first, as soon as it gets soaked with sweat it has more difficulty drying than technical and synthetic fabrics, which then allow you to more effectively wick away the sweat and thus the heat in contact with the air.
Start running in already wet clothing. You can dip it in water or spray it on yourself. The feeling of discomfort from the soaked clothes will be immediately overcome by the feeling of well-being from the lower body temperature. And don’ t forget to wear a hat, including a wet one of course: by lowering the temperature of the hottest part of the body-that is, the head-the whole body will benefit.
2. Drink before starting, continue during
Hydrating properly is the best way to avoid dehydration and, with it, sunstroke. Dehydration makes the blood thicker, loading the heart and fatiguing it and increasing the heart rate.
Studies show that, in extreme conditions, cold drinks are not enough but it is better to take ice-cold ones: your body temperature will stay within guarded values longer and you will gain prolonged well-being. And don’t forget to drink mineral salt supplements, especially if you exceed your water intake: the danger is hyponatremia, which is insufficient sodium concentration in the blood that can lead to diarrhea, heart failure, liver and kidney problems (and worse).
3. Ice is your ally
Well, yes: this is perhaps the most extreme and least natural solution, but all the top runners use it, especially those of the last Western States 100, where ice cubes were available at the stations in addition to water and a few supplements.
How did competitors make use of it? By filling bandanna and buff with ice so that you can place them on your head and neck, drastically lowering the temperature. Any other places to put ice to let it melt slowly? The sleeves of the jersey and the cap.
4 (bonus). How to recognize sunstroke and heat stroke
This is perhaps the most important advice and allows you to identify the symptoms of two extreme physical conditions that, if left untreated, can have consequences. Heat stroke (or heatstroke) and sunstroke are often confused but they are somewhat different things, partly because heat stroke can occur even indoors and without being exposed to the sun.
Heat stroke/heat stroke occurs with temperatures above 35°C, poor ventilation and high humidity, which prevents the body from decreasing body temperature effectively through heat exchanges with the surrounding air, as heat evaporates more slowly.
How to recognize it: weakness, high body temperature but no sweating, nausea, disorientation, cramps, dizziness and headache
The insolation It occurs in the sunlight and has symptoms similar to those of heatstroke, with the added effects of exposure to sunlight and radiation, resulting in: reddening of the skin (erythema) with blistering and itchy eruptions, burns and pain, eye irritation and tearing, general malaise, confusion, and, in severe cases, unconsciousness and small brain hemorrhages.
What to do in both cases:
- Move (or move whoever is having it, in case they are not in a condition) to a cooler, ventilated place
- Lying down with the legs raised above the body
- Cool the body and head with wet cloths or by soaking in a tub of cool (not cold) water
- Do not use alcohol on the body because it may lower the temperature too abruptly, causing a very dangerous temperature swift
- Keep calm and don’t get anxious
- Drink water that is not too cold and in small sips
- Do not use antipyretics (fever-lowering drugs) without medical consultation.