August 3, 2009

Just a touch of dizziness during my run

It was about 1 pm when I started my run (the same 1.6 miles that I've been running), and it was hot. The shade temperature was in the mid 80s (F) and the sun temperature was probably close to 100 (F). Most of my run was in the sun. I forgot to carry water, and I hoped the glass I had just before I left home would carry me through.

That glass of water did carry me through most of the run, but I had a touch of dizziness during the last 500 or so yards. Two of the early signs of heat exhaustion are dizziness and headaches. When those happen, I usually stop running and head for a shady spot to rest for a few minutes before I walk home. Today, the dizziness was slight and didn't last long, so I continued my running and walking until I finished.

Runners need to be careful when they run when it's hot, because heat exhaustion is a precursor to heat stroke, and heat stroke is a precursor to death! Literally! In heat stroke, ones body can no longer control the internal temperature of the body, and the temperature goes up and up and begins to cook ones brain and other internal organs. It is important to know and recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Here is my page about running in bad conditions.

I live in Utah, and the Jordan River Parkway, where I run, is at an elevation of 4300 - 4400 feet. That high altitude means runners get less oxygen with each breath and thus experience fatigue more than they would at a lower elevation. I was raised in Southern Utah (elevation about 5500 feet), but I've lived most of my adult life outside of Utah at relatively low elevations. When I moved back to Utah in December 1992, I experienced a lot of dizziness due to the higher altitude here. I would be walking down a sidewalk and would have an attack of dizziness. I would lose contact with the ground, and it would feel like I was walking in the air. It was hard to walk without feeling the ground. After about two years the dizziness went away. My low blood pressure (115/60) probably was a factor, too. Another factor about living in the desert is the low relative humidity of about 10%. That dryness means runners lose more moisture due to evaporation and thus need to drink more. It also means that runners cool more from evaporation of their sweat.

19 comments:

Sue said...

I'm so impressed...keep on going!!

Mr. Patrick said...

Very impressive. I went for a 7.5 miles run today at 12 oclock noon. Bad idea! It was about 85 degrees and I was really feeling it. Very hard to breathe and everything. And I live on Long Island...no problems with high altitudes and less oxygen. And I'm also 20 years old! I'm extremely impressed with how much passion and determination you have!

Allen said...

Ugggg... 85 degrees on Long Island is bad due to your high humidity. My dryness of the desert means I need to drink extra water, but it helps my body cool through evaporation. Your muggy days mean you sweat but don't cool much.

I lived and ran in Massachusetts for 17 years, and I still remember the high humidity. Once in a while the humidity in MA would go down to 50%, and we would think we were in heaven. Now, in Utah, the humidity goes up to 30%, and we think we're ready to melt.

Virginia said...

was posting a blog of my own on my pets and stumbled across yours, very impressed to see someone have such a great attitude about life and running in general, wish i had the get up and go as you do...good work, keep on running!!!!

Derek said...

I'm a runner for the Hillcrest Cross team in Midvale Utah, and I must say, your dedication of so many years of running is inspirational. Luckily we haven't dealt much with the heat this summer, we run very early in the morning, but today we ran at the Brighton ski resort at high elevation for more intense training, it definitely affects you to run unacclimatized!

Allen said...

Hi Derek,

Yes, running at Brighton is really up there! Probably around 9000 feet. How many runs will you do at such high altitudes?

Michael Reardon said...

I haven't gone running in such a long time.

I think it shows...

I think you've inspired me to start again.

Lucky said...

I have had to change my routine for the summer. I am able to run early in the morning for my speed work and tempo run but because of work, I was getting out in the afternoon for my long run. Bad idea. I don't do well in the heat and humidity at all. By switching this run to evening, I have noticed a dramatic difference in my performance. Plus I now wear my water belt wherever I go (except to bed!) Good luck and great progress. Run well!

Escapist said...

Must b grt and quite impressive!

joollliiieessss:-)

Italo said...

Ciao Allen, I read this blog for the first time, but I will follow you with interest. I run everyday and I wish I will a runner like you also in the future!!!!!!!!!
CIao, have a nice day, Italo.

Dennis Hilario said...

dizziness really is scary when running, its definitely a sign to take a rest...

Michelle C said...

I've been a runner since I was 12, and granted I'm only 23, I still love it. However, my freshman year of college I injured my IT band the first day of practice and spent the rest of the season in the trainer's office. As a result of that injury, I had to stop running for a year. But then life seemed to get busy, or at least I used that as an excuse, and I stopped running during college, except randomly when I would get motivated. Now I'm out of college and trying to get motivated to run, but I constantly think of how fast I used to be and I get discouraged. This last weekend I decided I was going to commit to running. Unfortunately I got the flu on Sunday and so today is going to be my restart day to my running life. Thanks for the encouragement of your blog!

Allen said...

Michelle,

I know what it is like to remember how fast you used to be and how slow you are today. I'm the same way. I started running when I was 38, and 8 years later I ran my first marathon. During that period, I ran 5K in 19+, 10K in 20+, 5 miles in 33+, and four marathons in 3:59 - 4:12. I didn't run any half marathons then, but if I had my times would have been around 1:30. I didn't realize that I was faster than the average man my age; I just thought everyone ran those times. Now, my PB for 5K is 30+.

My way of making peace with this has been to forget the past and just focus on the present. When the time comes that I break 30 minutes for a 5K, I will be just as excited as I was 27 years ago when I broke 20 minutes.

As a suggestion, consider yourself a beginner and aim for small improvements so you don't injure yourself. Here is my beginners page.

Sara said...

I'm impressed. You are an inspiration. Just remember your water next time!

-Sara
the-poet-girl.blogspot.com

Isabelle (Bel) said...

wow! that'sthe first time I visit your blog, I intend to come more.

gooddell said...

great post
http://gooddell.blogspot.com/

Fée said...

You are a great inspiration...Wow!!!
I did not run for a so long time but I walk amost every day.
So I will keep walking at least ;)

Allen said...

Fee,

Walking is great! Runners experience a shock of 2-3 times their body weight with each step. That is a big shock on their body. Walkers don't experience that much shock. So keep on walking, and don't start running unless you really want to. There isn't much difference in the calories burned by running and walking. I think that those, like me, who really enjoy running should run, and everyone else should walk.

Derek said...

We do try to do a run at high elevation once a week but normally it's lower than 9000, we've only recently started doing it at that elevation because the summer's coming to a close and we're trying to get that extra training in for the season.