Altitude Sickness

Heat stroke, dehydration and the changeover to ketosis

So heat stroke is a thing, apparently. Remember last week how I talked about my trying to get back into ketosis from glycosis?

So in the middle of this week (adhering to my previously mentioned three on-two off schedule), I went for an 11 mile trail run. No big deal, under 2,000 feet of climb. I woke up, drank a bunch of water, and then went for the run on my usual empty stomach.

What happened next was really interesting. At about five miles, just before turning around, I got really, really thirsty. I usually start to get thirsty about 10-12 miles in. I went a bit farther before turning around. When I did, I noticed that I not only did not have my downhill legs but that I was tripping on things, slack-jawed, and kind of a mess.

A few days before I had run eight miles with a 1,600-foot vertical change and finished the last mile at around 10 minutes per mile. So this new feeling was not an issue of aerobic health. As an athlete, I generally require very little water. I run, I jump, I sweat, I do things, and then afterward I drink a bunch of water.

This day, however, was a disaster. With four miles left before I was off the trail, I was starting to get worried, and I was thoroughly involved in Raggedy Andy-style down running. By the time I got down, I was having trouble running at all, but I didn’t want to walk, because I wanted to get off the trail as quickly as possible.

I think what happened is that I was directly in the middle of the changeover from glycosis to ketosis. As I have mentioned, when you transition from burning glucose to burning ketone bodies, there comes a period of time where your body, still trying to burn glucose, uses up its glycogen stores without taking in any new ones, but has no ketone bodies to burn because the liver has not yet begun making them. Therefore, you get a blood sugar crash.

In the absence of ketone bodies you are incapable of burning fat for fuel (glycosis actually blocks the body from burning fat) and with no available glucose, your body turns to muscle tissue for caloric replenishment. This takes time, and creates all sorts of by-products in the blood that will interfere with hydration (elevated mineral, creatine, and phosphate levels, all of which are evacuated through the kidneys).

Furthermore, I speculate that metabolizing muscle tissue requires a great deal more water than either ketosis or glycosis. I speculate this because I was thirstier than if I had just eaten a entire ham wrapped with bacon.

I just want to pause and talk for a minute about how good that sounds . . . It sounds almost as good as bacon-wrapped bacon!

When you run out of water to the point where your eyes and mouth are sticky and dry, your body is not effectively cooling itself. You stop sweating. You see where this is going?

When I got home, I was so overheated that my 63 degree apartment (it’s in a basement, which is awesome because it’s always that temperature) made me shiver and I had to take a hot shower. I started to feel fine about four hours later.

In other news, I pulled a muscle in my back after a ride . . . I was stretching a hamstring, and all of a sudden I could go down way further than before. It only hurts if I look down. So I am taking a few days to walk and recuperate.

Previous to the injury, though, I was posting good gains in pull-ups and burpees. Unweighted I could knock out 21 pull-ups and 28 burpees without stopping. I think it would be nifty if I got to the point where I could do over 30 pull-ups and over 50 burps in a set.

As for Pip the Impaler (a.k.a. Dick), I gave him the silent treatment for a few days. And now he lets me pick him up, and we have had two successful quiet (and longish) snuggles. I have to say, that part feels really good . . . I needed it!

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