SIMSBURY, CONNECTICUT—Summer is just a rumor here. It was so cold on my morning run along a beautiful network of single-track-track trails, I had to wear a long-sleeve shirt. Needless to say, it’s a marked contrast to what has been one of the wettest springs in the memory of the ATX.
After splashing our way on run after run this spring, about the last thing on our collective minds right now is summer. But it’ll be here very soon.
And, we’ll once again return to our three-month long steam bath, otherwise known as summer. Even so, few of us will forsake running—especially those training for an early fall marathon.
Summer running is always difficult. We all know too well how the heat and humidity slows us down, but it is also downright dangerous and can have deadly consequences.
None of us are immune to the summer heat for the simply physiologic fact that when it’s hot and humid our body temps also rise and it is much more difficult to get rid of that body heat than during a run in cooler, dryer temps.
Because our body temps soar so much while training during the hot, humid summer (especially on those hard, hilly long runs), heat exhaustion or much worse, heatstroke is always a threat. The difference between heat exhaustion and heatstroke is one of severity.
Heat exhaustion is fairly common and most of us have plenty of experience with it. It’s not such a big deal, and generally we just get awfully hot and tired to the point we must slow down or stop running altogether. Happens to me all the time and after a dip in Barton Springs, I’m good to go.
But heatstroke is much worse. When a runner is felled by heatstroke, he/she may be delirious (or in a worst case scenario, in a coma) and there is often damage to tissues and some organs such as the kidney, liver and intestine. Some of that damage can be lasting.
Regardless of whether it’s simple heat exhaustion or the much more serious heatstroke, the immediate steps should be too cool the runner with an ice bath or even a dip in a pool or Lady Bird Lake. Sometimes a simple cooling shower works or just getting the person into an air-conditioned building such as a hospital many of which are on long-run routes.
(Note to well-meaning, but overzealous medical support staff I have seen in Austin races: IVs are not a remedy for heat exhaustion or heatstroke, ice baths are. IVs are for dehydration, not overheating.)
Anyway, new research indicates that there may be lasting damage from runners who go down with heatstroke. Dr. Lisa Leon, a research physiologist at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts, says, “The problem with heatstroke is the long-term damage that happens in the days, weeks and months that follow.”
Many runners who have suffered from an episode of heatstroke often say their running was never the same afterward. And the new research suggest there’s a reason it isn’t. One study of distance runners who had heatstroke indicates that they were still recovering four months later. Another study by the Army Research Institute found that 30 years after soldiers had heatstroke they were at increased risk of death from liver failure.
Not good news. But, when is it safe to return to running after a bout with heatstroke? Hard to say. The quicker you are cooled down, the quicker you recover and the less damage is done. Still, most heat experts recommend waiting at least a few weeks after full recovery before attempting to run again. Some doctors recommend a heat tolerance test on a treadmill before allowing their patients to start running again.
For runners who have been waylaid by heat exhaustion, the implications are not nearly as profound. Still, if you have slowed by an episode and aren’t forced to quit the run or drastically slow down, you should cool off as quickly as possible and rehydrate. After a day or two of easy running (or no running), you should be good to go.
Our wet, lingering spring has been a relief. Normally, we’ve already hit triple figures. But in case you are wondering, I have it on good authority, it will get hot again.
O So long to Dick and Jill Beardsley. The couple have pulled up stakes and made their long-planned move to Dick’s home territory of Northern Minnesota where they are opening a bed and breakfast (lakebemidjibandb.com) soon. Dick will also work as a fishing guide up there and will certainly continue his calling as a gifted motivational speaker around the country.
O Also headed out of town is Kim Wrinkle who retired after 29 years of teaching. The “little fella” most recently taught at Vista Ridge HS in Cedar Park and also coached at Rogue Running. Kim, who I first worked with in the ‘80s at Runner’s World, has bought a place in Silverton, Colorado (9400 feet). He doesn’t have any definitive plans right now, other than doing a lot of hiking, reading and running at altitude.
O Carmen Troncoso doesn’t race as often as she used to anymore (who does?) but she always makes room for the Freihofer’s 5-K for Women in Albany, New York. Last weekend, the 57-year-old finished second in her 54-59 age group to another ageless wonder—59-year-old Joan Samuelson. The ’84 Olympic gold medalist won it in 19:31 with Carmen coming in at 20:19.
O David Schwalm, another long-time fixture in Austin, is recovering from a bike accident that could have been much worse. Some driver turned right in front of Dave and although he was able to avoid the car, he crashed. David’s bike helmet was crushed but—fortunately—his head wasn’t. He didn’t walk away from the accident completely unscathed as David suffered several broken bones in his hands. Obviously, this was nothing compared to the bike tragedy in Kalamazoo, Michigan, but still…
O Occasional Austinite Scott MacPherson is running the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon this weekend up in Duluth, Minnesota. Last year MacPherson finished eighth with a 1:04:55.
O The inaugural Trail Roots Switchback Marathon (Erik Stanley’s brainchild) at Flat Creek Crossing was held last weekend and the overall winner was Josh Slocum (3:22:50), followed by Jason Brooks (3:36:24) and Jeff Zenger (3:42:03). First two women were Katy Kohls (4:08:10) and Sydney Lambert (4:26:02). In the accompanying Half Marathon, Jacob Phillips came out on top in 1:25:54 with Joe Hale (1:38:11) in second and our own Ashish Patel in third (1:40:38). Hannah Steffan won the women’s division in 1:52:15 with Pam Hess in second in 1:55:49.
O Sanya Richards-Ross had to be carted off the track last weekend at the American League Meet in Atlanta. Richards-Ross, 31, was running the 100 meters in prep for the Olympic Trials when midway through the race her hamstring tightened and she collapsed to the track. Not a good sign for the Texas Ex who finished seventh a week ago in a slow 400 at the Pre Meet in Eugene.
O Also in Atlanta, Becky Wade of Houston finished third in the women’s steeple in 9:52.62 with Sarah Pease right behind in fourth (9:56.39), Lennie Waite in fifth (9:56.39) and Mary Goldkamp seventh in 10:26. BTW: Wade, a former runner at Rice who still lives in Houston, has a new e-book just out: “Run the World.”
O Sabrina Little, who lives in Waco, is one of the top ultra runners and proved it last weekend. At the USATF 50-mile and 50-K trail championships in Ithaca, New York, Little finished second in the 50-K in 8:24:10.
O The NCAAs kicked off yesterday in Eugene and Texas, other than sprinter Senoj-Jay Givans, did not have a great day. But Givans made a little bit of history in the 100 meters semifinals which he won in a wind-legal 9.96 seconds. That’s the first sub-10 seconds in UT history and makes him the ninth fastest collegiate runner ever. But, in the five other running events yesterday, UT failed to advance anyone. Hopefully, today will be better as Texas has eight runners in the 10 semifinal events. The women begin competition today.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Remain in Light,” by the Talking Heads. Listening to the Heads this morning reminded me of the first time I heard them in a tiny venue in the mid-70s at the Rhode Island School of Design which three of the four original members attended.
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