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It was the 4th of July, and I was doing a 100-mile (and 100-degree) charity cycling event. About 40 miles into the ride, while stopped at a red light, I glanced at the watch of the young, athletic woman paused next to me. Though she was standing still, the heart rate monitor on her wrist was at 192—quite high.
First, I urged her to drink. She was out of water. I convinced her to take one of my unopened bottles of electrolyte drink, but she claimed to be too nauseous to drink. She also remarked she had a slight headache. Then, it was one red flag after another—signs of heat illness were present, yet this athlete insisted she was fine and would continue riding.
By this time, several other cyclists had joined us, and all were concerned. After declaring that we were all quitting if she didn’t address her symptoms, she agreed to pull to the side and sit in the shade. We iced her neck for more than 20 minutes before her heart rate began to come down!
So, I ask you: What if that light had been green? She would have continued on and this story would perhaps have an ending that involved an ambulance.
Such stubbornness is common in endurance athletes. We believe that by sheer will, we can ignore the red flags our body throws up and continue on. But when it comes to heatstroke, a “mind over matter approach” is unwise, as the mind is likely not firing on all cylinders. Why? Because during an episode of heatstroke, the brain reaches temperatures above 105 degrees Fahrenheit—it’s too hot to do the things it should do, like regulate body temperature and heart rate.
But this is more than just a tough day of training. It’s life-threatening, and it’s up to us to watch out for our fellow athletes. Just as “friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” friends also don’t let friends suffer heat illness. If you suspect one of your fellow triathletes is exhibiting signs of heatstroke, say something! You might just save a life.
Source: Know the Signs of Heat Illness—It Could Save A Life - triathlete