It should be obvious you can’t run with heatstroke. Heatstroke is a serious condition that can require medical attention or even be life threatening. Months ago, during Seattle’s first heatwave in May, this blog explored ways of mitigating the effects of running in the heat, especially since it was such a departure from our normal temperatures, and mentioned ways to avoid heatstroke. This article will explore the real life affects and how to recognize heatstroke.
The classic symptoms of heatstroke as defined by most general resources are fainting or dizziness, cessation of sweating, hot skin, muscle cramps, nausea, rapid heartbeat, confusion, seizures or unconsciousness. But this list doesn’t really spell out how it feels to be at risk during a run and when to feel alarmed.
From first-hand accounts, the tell-tale and odd symptoms that signal that something is seriously wrong vary widely:
- One felt as though their heartrate and level of exertion was much too high for their pace and fitness level.
- One felt chills and got goosebumps even though moments ago they were melting from the heat.
- One developed a severe headache while running. All reported headaches after completing their run and treating their heatstroke
- One was overcome with waves of nausea. Many athletes feel nauseated after running sprints or during especially long, hard runs. It becomes a warning sign if your workout is not so very intense and taking place in the heat.
- One felt uncoordinated, and like every effort was too much. Not just regular running fatigue where your legs or abs get tired, but every muscle, even arms and neck.
You must assess your situation for risk factors (you are running in the heat, you have less water or electrolyte replacement than desired, you are not used to the high temperature, your workout is long) and be on guard for these abnormal symptoms to be properly prepared for recognizing heatstroke. As runners we are used to being uncomfortable and pushing past our perceived limits. Most of the first-hand accounts I researched expressed some surprise in coming down with heatstroke. The symptoms did not present themselves in an orderly, classic fashion that lead to the logical conclusion of heatstroke. It seems more helpful for the blog to list specifics and make the community aware of these varying symptoms.
We may only get a summer like this in Seattle once every few years, but knowing what heatstroke feels like is a vital part of a runner’s knowledge.