Heat Illness

Given the heat and humidity of Florida summers, the possibility of heat illness occurring during a run is a real concern. The longer you are running, the higher the risk, because your core body temperature climbs when running in the heat. All runners should be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat illness. You cannot “tough it out” or “run through” heat disease. You must STOP running and cool down.

Prevention Tips

  • Adjust pace: slow down by 30 sec per mile for every 5 degree temperature increase above 60F.
  • Take walk breaks more often (walking does not increase core body temp.)
  • Wear light colored technical fabrics that help wick away sweat.
  • Carry water during the run so you can sip as needed.
  • Pour ice water on your head and neck at water stops.
  • Carry a small towel to wipe away sweat.
  • Substitute a visor for a hat, as it allows heat to escape from your head.

Call 911 immediately if a runner experiences any of the following signs or
symptoms:

Signs and Symptoms

  • Intense heat build-up in the head
  • General overheating of the body
  • Significant nausea
  • General confusion and loss of mental concentration
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Excessive sweating and then cessation of sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling faint
  • Diarrhea
  • Unable to maintain normal training pace (This is probably the first symptom we will notice on a training run)

Risk Factors

The following factors increase the risk of heat illness: viral infections, various medications, dehydration, sunburn, excess weight, a lack of heat training, longer mileage, and a lack of sleep. NOTE: The incidence of heat illness in the past greatly increases a runner’s risk of experiencing heat illness again!

Be Alert to the condition and well-being of your group at all times and be prepared to call 911!

Plan of Action

  • Walk the runner back to the start, IF they are able to do so. If not,
  • Call 911. Better safe than sorry!
  • Cool the runner down by placing ice from the coolers on the head, neck, and wrists.
  • Do NOT leave the runner alone. Stay with them until help arrives.