The Signs and Symptoms of Heat Illness for Runners

Ready or not, summer (at least for us in the Northern Hemisphere) is right around the corner!

Some of us have already been dealing with summer heat and humidity for several weeks, and for those of you that get to enjoy a legitimate spring it won’t be long before the heat arrives en masse.

Heat Illness for Runners

Heat Illness for Runners is a Real Concern in the Summer Months

There are different types of heat illnesses that runners need to be concerned about, but none should ever be overlooked because ignoring any of the following signs and symptoms can have serious, and even fatal, consequences.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Heat Illness for Runners

If you’re out on a run this summer, and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is my professional recommendation that you shut it down for the day. The risks of continuing on your run and potentially making your situation worse simple isn’t worth it.

So be on the look out for the following signs and symptoms of heat illness for runners this summer (listed in order of most basic to most life threatening) both in yourself AND in those you are running with:

  1. Cool, moist, pail and/or ashen skin
  2. Headache
  3. Nausea
  4. Dizziness
  5. Excess fatigue/muscle weakness
  6. Exhaustion
  7. Red, hot, dry skin
  8. Changes in consciousness (doesn’t necessarily mean passing out either)
  9. Rapid, weak pulse
  10. Rapid, shallow breathing

The first 4 items on this list are the easiest to overlook and attempt to push through.

That said, they are also the easiest to recover from simply by getting out of the heat and getting some fluids into your system.

At 5 and 6, the warning bells should be going off, and you NEED to shut it down for the day.

7-10 are life threatening y’all, so if you or someone you are running with is experiencing ANY of these symptoms, you need to get 911 on the horn and get EMS to the scene. I don’t mean to overstate the situation, but time is of the essence and every minute counts.

When in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to heat illness for runners (or anyone for that matter) this summer.

If you’ve got any questions about dealing with heat illness for runners this summer, please let me know and I’ll do whatever it takes to better explain the signs, symptoms, and severity of heat illness.

Overheating really isn’t something that should be taken lightly. But if you recognize the symptoms and take action right away, it doesn’t have to be fatal either.

Stay safe this summer guys, and check out Wednesday’s blog post where I’ll be sharing suggestions to help prevent heat illness.

Have You Ever Had Any Run Ins With Heat Illness? What Did You Do?

2 replies
  1. Shannon @GirlsGotSole
    Shannon @GirlsGotSole says:

    I think I may have had it this past Sunday when I pushed through a hot half marathon. Definitely had a crazy headache and kept pouring water on myself to cool down. I probably should have stopped at that point, but ended up finishing.

    • Denny
      Denny says:

      Gotta be careful pushing through, though I’m as guilty as anyone in a race of ignoring symptoms and continuing to run, so I know it can be difficult.

      Glad you made it to the finish upright and in one piece!


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