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Friday, July 6, 2007

It's Hot! Don't Lose Your Cool, or Your Salt

As the weather grows continually hotter with the summer now in full swing, your activity levels outdoors might have diminished- or at least, in the greater part of the day. You might find yourself switching your schedule around to fit in your workouts earlier in the morning, or later at night when the temperature is at least 10-20 degrees cooler. As I can attest, working out in the middle of the day can be a challenging, if not dangerous, feat. When you sweat, you not only lose water from your body, but important nutrients, such as salt and potassium (electrolytes), which keep your body functioning properly. If you are an endurance athlete, such as myself, losing these electrolyes, in addition to water, can keep you from finishing a workout or race, simply because this loss shuts your body down. When you workout during this heat, you must monitor what percentage of body weight you lose and then gauge what symptoms you might feel if you get to that point. I illustrate an estimate of % body weight loss and symptoms below:

WEIGHT LOSS CONSEQUENCES (shown as percentage of body weight lost during workout):
0 to 2 %: beginning thirst, performance loss at 1.8%
2 to 3 %: thirst, 7% performance loss
3 to 6 %: cramps, strong thirst, 20% performance loss
> 6 %: severe cramps, heat exhaustion, coma, death

(I grabbed this info from an ultracycling article I read yesterday: you can find more on this article at: http://www.ultracycling.com/nutrition/electrolytes.html)


As you see, not paying attention to the replenishment your body needs during your workouts, especially in the heat, can lead to some severe consequences. Please train smart and think ahead of time about how you are going to prepare for your workout and hydration.

5 Quick "Stay Cool" things you can do when working out in the heat:

1. Workout in cooler times of the day (early morning/late night).
2. If you must workout in the day, take along some Gatorade or other electrolyte drink with you rather than just water. Water is good, but you need some carbohydrates and sodium replenishment to keep from getting stomachache or muscle cramps.
3. Take longer breaks than you would normally.
4. Drink more before and after your workout- not only during. If you start your workout thirsty, you will already be in trouble.
5. Salt pills and/or electrolyte pills will help you maintain your electrolyte balance if taken regularly through workouts lasting longer than 2 hours. I have had great success with them and always use them in my longer races and training rides/runs.

If you have any ways in which you stay hydrated or cool, email me! I would love to hear about them: erikalilley@sbcglobal.net.

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Clancy, Mike and I

Clancy, Mike and I
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