Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bear Chase 50 Miler, Central And Peripheral Fatigue, Darkness Into The Light Project

Bear Chase 50 Miler, Central and Peripheral Fatigue, Darkness into the Light Project

On Saturday I got out and ran the Bear Chase 50 Mile race. Although not my kind of race or course, I signed up last minute because I couldn't find any other ultra races that I could do based on my work schedule this fall. Having spent most of the summer running and power hiking in the mountains, I knew I was not in the right form for 50 miles of pure running, but I wanted to still take on the psychological aspects of such an event (4 laps, rolling course). As the day approached, I was a little worried about the weather, as it was forecasted to be warm and I do not do well in heat, nor have I done any heat training. Sure enough, the day turned hot (91 was the high during the middle of the day) and despite my best efforts to deal with the heat, by the final five miles I got heat stroke.

The race was really well run, and although I thought I would have to deal with the boredom and monotony of the course, that proved to not really be an issue. I never really talked with anyone the whole race, and I don't use music; however, I can't really remember what I thought about all day. I just got into a good groove of mind-blankness (although I know I did think of stuff, but everything is a blur) and went about running and shuffling until the final five miles, at which point I threw up. I could feel the heat stroke coming on, but tried to keep it at bay by putting water on my head and ice on the back of my neck, as well as wearing an open cotton shirt (which did help I believe). I also tried to take a few minutes at the stream crossings to cool down. However, with my northern genes and my lack of any heat acclimation (I spent all summer in the mountains or inside), it got the better of me. I knew what was happening this time at least, and so just kinda rolled with it, throwing up and then continuing on. I tried to drink some soda at the next aid station, but the final 4 miles are all out in the direct sun, so I had to empty my stomach a few more times. I finally finished in 9:56:16, which was good for 20th place.

A good article for those who are interested on the differences between central and peripheral fatigue. Fairly straightforward, but it is interesting to think about. Perceptually, we all know that short, power or speed based runs cause acute muscle fatigue and soreness, while the longer stuff is more "core" fatigue. However, the article does demonstrate that one of the differences here is that the peripheral or short, power/speed stuff is potentiated twitch based (acute muscle firing) while the central or core fatigue is motor nerve based (brain to muscle connection).

Started working on a fantastic new bouldering project I'm calling Darkness into the Light (a harder version of Into the Light V7). Really nice setting on good stone. Should go at about V9/10 I think.


  1. Replies
    1. Yeah, I've never done well in heat. I pretty much shut down when I get overheated, and start to vomit and get nauseous. I guess it is one word, but heat has been an issue for me all my life. If the summer is really hot, and I spend a fair bit of time exerting myself and then don't really get to cool down at night, I will get sick, develop a mild fever, lose my appetite, etc. In running, it only happens after a fair bit, but the symptoms are the same: stomach starts to go, it stops digesting (gastric emptying ceases), I throw up, get nauseous, breathing and heart rate goes up, etc. If I can get cool, I'm almost 100% instantly better, I can eat again, energy is back, nausea is gone, etc. I can acclimate to the heat, but it takes me some time and training, and only to a certain degree. This summer I either ran up high, or early in the morning so I avoided it.

      I lived in Austin for a couple months, and pretty much had to give up any outdoor activities that involved significant time/outdoor energy - same thing would happen. I try and avoid it, but in this case, I knew it would most likely happen given the temps, so I tried to mitigate it by utilizing the water crossings and dumping water on my head/carrying a buff with ice. It worked pretty good, and with some heat acclimatization, I might of been fine, but it just wasn't enough this time.

      What I need to do is pick races and then train for them specifically, instead of jumping in events at the last minute. I hope that I get that luxury with my schedule this coming year, but there is something thrilling about spontaneity!

    2. Interesting. Cuz when I look at you, I see a guy who is built to manage heat and sun without issue. No, just kidding.

      This made me go back and read on the distinctions of heat exhaustion and stroke. I guess I now know I have encountered such "strokes" at least a couple of times.

      Austin this past week was pretty close to it.