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Managing the Texas Heat

do not have magnesium or calcium. Calcium is necessary for muscle contraction and, once a person gets low on calcium, muscle cramps are sure to follow. As for magnesium, it is the trickiest electrolyte to deal with. If you replace too much, you can get diarrhea. But if the amount of magnesium gets too low, what doesn’t go down will come back up. Of course, everyone has a different constitution when it comes to how the gut handles any sort of problem. The only true way of finding out your own tolerance is through simple trial and error, even though this can be the most unpleasant of routes. With regard to the 11 ounces of sweat, the number is mostly arbitrary. Given the amount of variables present, it is not possible to give more than a ballpark number. Some triathletes can sweat as much as two to three liters an hour. Going back to your weight pre- and post-activity is the best means for figuring out your own weight loss. And as I mentioned earlier, if you have normally functioning kidneys, when in doubt, opt for a little extra salt.

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What color is your urine?

B

eing a doctor and an ultramarathoner, I sometimes forget that most people do not speak so freely about pee in mixed company. But when it comes to dealing with heat, monitoring one’s urine is the best way to make quick assessments of how the body is handling dehydration.

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During activity, urine will rarely be completely clear. Sweat loss will see to that. So, during the rest of the day when you are not in the heat, I recommend drinking to the point that your urine is close to clear. This way you are at least starting your workout with a full tank, so to speak. The more yellow it gets, the closer you are to dehydration. There is nothing wrong with a urine color that is not completely clear but if it gets dark yellow or brown, there is indeed a problem.

Conclusion

I

t is fact that everyone responds differently to exercising in the heat. Some handle it better than others. The only way to see where on this spectrum you fall is by easing yourself into your workouts, monitoring your own system, and making the appropriate adjustments. It also never hurts to hit the pool or Barton Springs and relax once in a while. afm

Dr. Shannon Mitchel is a physician, physical therapist, and ultramarathon runner who practices occupational medicine at NOVA Medical Center in South Austin. She also serves as Medical Director for various endurance events and maintains a small sports medicine private practice in South Austin.

June 2012 - The Outside Issue  

The Outside Issue with #1 Cable Wakeboarder, Tom Fooshee, as the cover feature.