Friday, June 24, 2011


     As Sandy commented in an earlier blog, Monument Valley in 130 degee heat might not be the best place to run ( hence my 5:30am after sunrise start) but she has a point, running in the heat is a whole different ball game.    
     Now some of you may have heard of the Badwater (Death valley...24 hour endurance race, 235 kilometeres)....yes thats what I said..... and even the Marathon des Sables (6 days 120 degrees 241 kilometers) and quite rightly will have difficulty getting your head around included. But this is what human beings can do; at least I think they're human beings. Anyway, my point is this, living in the South of France running in the summer in temps of 85 to 90 degrees is quite normal and for many, many runners not that exceptional......except I was born in Yorkshire and my ancient ancestors were Vikings!  Now correct me if I am wrong but to an ex-Viking this is seriously tough and well outside my comfort zone. Factor 50 suncream, 3 litres of water and a hat is all I've got between me and the nearest Star and.......well I could run out of adjectives but if it sounds difficult thats because it is.
       I take all manner of gels and power bars and isotonic drinks but all this plus water and pack adds about 3:5 kilograms or nearly 8 pounds in weight and tends to increase the discomfort further. True, you do lose all of this as you go but after 2 or 3 hours you don't get any get hotter and thats when the next two problems can rear their ugly head. Dehydration is the obvious one and so stopping, getting into the shade and drinking liquid is the key, hence the isotonic drinks......but in severe cases you need to be on a drip!...Now unfortunately, last time I was in the mountains I didn't spot any sexy nurses with an affable bedside manner hanging around the place. However, bad as this is, there is a much bigger problem and its called Hypotremia.
          No not Hypothermia,......Hypotremia.....I guess the Latin scholars  (or is it Greek ?) amongst you can spot the connection, simply put, one is hot and the other is cold and both can kill you. What am I banging on about now you ask? Its a  medical condition brought on by drinking too much water. Due to sweating etc and the heat you end up washing all the salts and electrolytes out of your body leaving you dizzy with cramps and fainting...and it has been known in endurance runners to induce a coma and even worse. The other problem can be that the symptons are very similar to dehydration so you drink more and so your whole system gets even more out of whack. Its  therefore a balance to consume fluid regularly whilst replacing the lost electrolytes with isotonic drinks and sports gels etc. My particular favourite is Pedialyte,...yes its what they give kids when they have dehydration sickness. Its more gentle on the stomach.....and as I am such a sensitive soul it works for me.
        After a run I stretch alot, take on more fluid; chocolate milk is another good replacement drink and eat and thats me done. My fellow runners may have other routines and suggestions and I will be grateful to pass these on.
        There is an excellent video in six parts on You tube, see link,   that may give you some idea of what this blog 'Trail Junkie' is all about. Its a story about the Westen States 100 endurance run which I find fascinating and inspiring in equal measure. Its a dream and a holy grail for many runners, including myself, and if you get hooked you might just go out, buy some trainers and discover a whole new dimension. This years race starts Saturday 25th July at 5am West coast USA time and goes all the way through the night into the following day, 24 hours later....non stop......Please take some time out to watch this documentary.
         After starting this blog yesterday, in the heat, I waited till 7 pm and went out into the cool, dusky, evening air for a 2hrs-45 min run amongst the pine trees. It was so beautiful, peaceful and life affirming that I just kept going till it fell dark. This is the reason why I run....the other stuff is just background noise.