Adequate training and fitness are important for full enjoyment of the event and will reduce the risk of heat illness and hypothermia.
Prior training in the heat will promote heat acclimatization and thereby reduce the risk of heat illness, especially if the training environment is warmer than that expected during a race. Artificial heat acclimatization can be induced in cold conditions.
Adequate fluid consumption before and during the race can reduce the risk of heat illness, including disorientation and irrational behavior, particularly in longer events such as a marathon.
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Excessive consumption of pure water or dilute fluid up to liters per hours during prolonged endurance events may lead to a harmful dilutional hyponatremia, which may involve disorientation, confusion, and seizure or coma. The possibility of hyponatremia may be the best rationale for inclusion of sodium chloride in fluid replacement beverages.
Participants should be advised of the early symptoms of heat illness, which may include clumsiness, stumbling, headache, nausea, dizziness, apathy, confusion, and impairment of consciousness.
Participants should be advised of the early symptoms of hypothermia slurred speech, ataxia, stumbling gait and frostbite numbness, burning, pain, paresthesia on exposed skin. Wet clothing, especially cotton, increases heat loss and the risk of hypothermia.
Participants should be advised to choose a comfortable running speed and not to run faster than environmental conditions or their cardiorespiratory fitness warrant.
It is helpful if novice runners exercise with a partner, each being responsible for the other’s well-being.
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