Warning Signs of Dehydration
In Tucson, the thermometer has been consistently reading in the hundreds of degrees for the past few weeks. While this is nothing new or out of the ordinary for mid-summer in the desert southwest, the extreme heat is an extraordinary challenge for runners. As I mentioned in previous blogs, I prefer running in the early morning hours just after sunrise, but this is not always possible. And regardless, there is no ‘cool’ time to run in the desert during the summer months.
Medical experts recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For instance, a 130-pound woman should drink a minimum of 65 ounces of water every day, and this is the minimum required to be well-hydrated. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking an additional 12 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of strenuous exercise.
Dehydration hinders physical and mental performance. The warning signs may be incremental and not immediately obvious. Any one of these symptoms may be a sign that you are dehydrated:
· Dry mouth
· Dry skin
· Muscle cramping
· Dark urine
If you’re already poorly hydrated, even a relatively short run or sustained outdoor exercise can trigger a serious dehydration event. More extreme signs of dehydration include low blood pressure, lightheartedness, dizziness, vomiting, and fainting. If you’re experiencing any of these, you need to rehydrate immediately. Inability to quickly reverse these symptoms may require emergency medical attention.
To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids daily and take water with you whenever you walk or run outside. If you’re anticipating a longer walk or run, a handheld water bottle may not be adequate. A hydration pack is essential to carry enough water, as well as snack fuel and other gear you’ll need for those longer treks. There are plenty of options to choose from depending upon your running or hiking needs, but the best ones are smaller and lighter vest-types that are adjustable to hug your torso for maximum comfort and minimal bounce. There are also packs specifically designed to fit the female torso.
Under the best conditions, running in the desert southwest is challenging, but these tips are applicable to anyone running anywhere in the country. Running in the summer doesn’t have to be dangerous. Drink up and stay healthy!