That Time at the Track When I Ignored a Symptom of Heat Exhaustion

We have been having a stretch of wonderful weather here in the Northeast. Some would even call it extreme due to the humidity, but personally I love it. I vow all winter long that I will never complain about the heat in the summer and I never do. I love the hot days and so does my body, especially my achy joints. I’m the crazy person who likes to be at the track in the middle of a hot day, rather than early in the morning before the sun comes up. I always bring plenty of water with me and make sure I listen to my body if things start to feel a little too intense, until yesterday. See, I’m trying to play catch up on training for my very first 10K race, which is only about 2 weeks away, because I’ve spent much of the last several months battling an injury. No matter how much I try to ease up and modify my workouts, the discomfort and pain have stuck around. I saw my doctor and had visits with a physical therapist with little improvement. To say I’m discouraged would be an understatement, but I’m running that race with a special purpose for a special organization and even if I have to drag myself across the finish line I am going to do it.

So yesterday was definitely a hot day, but certainly not anything extreme and the humidity wasn’t bad as I made my way to the track, water bottle and cell phone in hand. I decided to do run/walk/run intervals and actually felt really good once I got going, with practically no discomfort in my foot at all. Then about 3/4 of the way through my workout I got a funny feeling, goosebumps up and down both arms and a bit of a chill throughout my body. I found it odd, but wasn’t feeling too bad otherwise, so I pushed forward, with only a few more laps to go. I do remember feeling grateful that there was another familiar and friendly face at the track, you know, in the event I suddenly fainted and needed medical attention. I then began to feel a little overheated and light-headed so I increased my walk intervals to see if it would help me catch my breath a little bit. Then the goosebumps happened again. I knew I had heard/read something about this before, but I was not leaving that track until I finished my 3-mile session. Yes, maybe I am a little stubborn. I finished up the rest of my laps and slowly made my way back home (I live within walking distance so technically I still had about 1/4 mile before I’d be totally done). I clocked my run with Charity Miles and was pleased to see I provided 6 meals to Feeding America for my efforts. Seriously, if you have ever considered giving to charity this is just about the easiest way to do it. I then got home and poured myself a tall glass of chocolate milk and proceeded to guzzle it pretty quickly.

Once I felt a little cooled down I went to the internet to search for my odd symptom to see if it was something I should have been concerned about. Turns out, I was lucky. According to the Mayo Clinic website, I was experiencing at least one sign of heat exhaustion. The thought never crossed my mind while I was at track as I had done walks and runs in that type of heat before and I consider myself a pretty well hydrated person. Needless to say I’m glad I listened to my gut, at least a little, and slowed down because sometimes it’s simply not smart to push through when your body is sending you a great big warning sign. Oh, and I swear I will try to avoid going to the track during the hottest time of the day in the future.

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