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Self-Care

Spring Time Races Spell Trouble For Runners


Spring is marathon season and with temperatures soaring runners should be prepared and recognize the warning signs for heat-related illnesses.

“Marathoners need to know their limits and not push themselves too hard, especially when the thermometer starts to rise,” said Dr. Ron Roth, medical director of the UPMC Health System City of Pittsburgh Marathon.

Here are some tips for staying cool while running offered by the UPMC:

Begin the race well hydrated. Drink approximately 18 ounces of fluids at least two hours before the race.

Avoid beverages containing caffeine because they increase urine production and add to dehydration.

Wear light colored, loose-fitting clothing to help reflect the sun’s rays.

To protect your eyes and face, wear sunglasses and a baseball cap.

Wear sunscreen to protect your skin.

Runners who feel cramping in any muscles or tired during a race should either slow their pace or stop running.

Exposure to high temperatures may also lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is the milder form of the heat-related illnesses.

The warm weather, excess activity and humidity all play a role. Signs of heat exhaustion include excessive sweating, muscle cramping and fatigue. Heat stroke is much more serious and can alter neurologic function. Warning signs for heat stroke include headache, dizziness, fatigue and confusion. Sweating is usually, but not always, decreased.

“It is also important to remember not to rely on thirst as a sensitive indicator of the need for additional water. You can suffer a significant lack of body water and still not be thirsty,” commented Roth.

Runners sensitive to heat and humidity probably should not run, and all marathoners should adjust their pace when the heat turns up. Also, runners shouldn’t try to run their personal best if it’s too hot on race day.


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