Running and thermoregulation

Running and thermoregulation

After you run do you feel cold? If you answer yes to this question, you may be surprised to know that you are not alone.

Hi there. Hope you have had a good week. How did you find my blog post from last week? Did you take on board any of the advice about being your own boss? Did you find it a useful blog to help you become more focused and aligned toward meeting your goals?

As some of you know who follow my weekly blogs, each week I look at things which are either experienced by lived experience of the moment and or inspired by the fitness and wellness journey that I am currently on. This week I’m going to discuss running and thermoregulation. I’m writing this blog as I’m on a train to London. God bless technology. I’m in a jersey and a body warmer. Everyone is in a T-shirt and shorts. For everyone it is a mild but sunny day in London. But for my body it is a crisp and cold London winter day.

So what’s going on, you may ask?

Well, in order to understand my physical situation today, we need to rewind to yesterday (I write this on a Tuesday on a train, so yesterday was Monday for point of reference).

For those of you who may be following my blogs, I have been trying to get back into running. I used to run quite a lot when I was younger, but back then I was lighter and more limber. Over the years I have gained a bit of mass and this mass has taken a toll on my knees and lower back. I have been doing weight training to strengthen my muscles and surrounding joints, and this year I set myself a challenge to lose some weight, strengthen my joints and train toward an endurance running event.

My partner, Lana, knowing my health ambitions, is also wanting to improve her physical fitness and overall mental wellbeing, so yesterday we decided to go for a jog around a lake close to where we are. It is a beautiful and picturesque lake with clean clear air, so fantastic for the lungs when going for a run.

So we set off for what I thought would be a short run. Prior to the run I established her level of running experience and fitness and she indicated that she was a beginner, so I thought that a half an hour trot up and down the side of the lake would be on the running agenda.

We set off at a slow but steady pace and to my surprise we continued and added a mile after a mile to a mile. I commended my partner on her level of fitness and physical resilience, something she attributed to years of ballet conditioning. We ran to a point and then decided to head back. On the last quarter of the return journey my energy hit a plateau and I began to feel my body temperature and blood sugar plummeting. We ventured to a pub where I devoured some crisps and had a pint of coke, and back home I had a hot shower and devoured my weight in chocolate. Despite covering myself in layers and layers, I still felt cold.

So what happened?

Thermoregulation happened.

According to Beresini (2012), when you run, your metabolic rate increases to deliver a greater amount of oxygen to your muscles to fuel muscle movement and muscle contractions. The transfer of energy in the cellular process is however highly inefficient, so a large amount of energy as heat, between 80 and 95%, is lost.

The energy as heat needs to be released from your body to keep your core temperature from getting too high, and the body does this by increasing the amount of blood flow to the skin, resulting in warmer skin and sweating.

However, there is a delay.

You will keep sweating even after you are losing enough heat to keep your body from overheating.

As your metabolic heat rate keeps dropping even after exercise, so you will lose more heat and your core temperature will become less. It is suggested to get of damp workout clothes immediately and to get dry as quickly as possible, however how can you help yourself get back up to a healthy body temperature and how can you keep your body temperature regulated when you run?

Well one way around it might be what you wear.

A quick glance online suggests that there have been several advances in exercise clothing research, with suggested tech such as conductive clothing and thermoregulation adaptations being incorporated into exercise clothing, creating quite a wide field of range and indeed price.

Ultimately what a person wants is quality and affordability. A suggestion may be to ask a staff member at a specialist sports clothing shop for advice.

Another approach is your fuel, during and after a run.

In reflecting with my partner I realise that I didn’t eat enough before the run and that I didn’t fuel myself properly during the run. More complex carbs and having slow release glucose sachets to supplement on during the course of the run look to be the next two things which I will be adding to my running checklist.

In summary, it is important to keep your core body temperature properly regulated during runs to stop too much heat from you becoming dissipated leading to you becoming weak and experiencing a dramatic drop in your core temperature. Removing sweaty wet clothing and getting warm is a way of aiding positive thermoregulation, whilst another way is to explore specialist sports clothing which helps with thermoregulation and keeping the body’s core temperature within a healthy range. A further suggestion is to make sure that you are well fueled before, during and after your run to avoid hypoglycemic (low blood sugar level) events.

I hope you have found the blog of some help. Remember: it’s a journey. It will take time. Have patience in the process. You will get there. Until then, stay happy, stay healthy, and have a lovely weekend wherever you are on the planet.

And remember: love yourself. 

References:

Beresini, E. (2012). Why Do I Get Cold After Working Out? Available: https://www.outsideonline.com/1783881/why-do-i-get-cold-after-working-out. Last accessed 13th August 2019.

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A bit about the author:

I am a guy who is (nearly) 40, who is sharing a journey of weight management and wellbeing.I am also a mental health professional with a wealth of years of experience in supporting individuals who have challenging mental illnesses and personality disorders.

Prior to my current professional role, I spent several years supporting members of the community as a fitness professional, assisting individuals with weight loss and health improvement programmes.

I completed a PGDip in Mental Health Nursing in 2013, and an MSc in Advanced Practice in 2016 in which I looked at improving nurses’ level of engagement with patients with challenging personality disorders.

In 2018 I successfully undertook a Clinical reasoning in Physical Assessments course with the view to start studying toward becoming an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in late 2019.

In 2015 I also undertook a Mentorship for practice (BSc Hons) course and have been supporting future nurses with their training and development. I have also recently supported a Healthcare Assistant Staff toward training in and successfully passing and achieving a Foundation Degree in Mental Health Nursing.

In my current role I am a person looking to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the individual. As part of my role within the health services in supporting individuals with mental health care needs, I am also currently looking to develop myself as a Wellness Coach, to support the individual with weekly wellness blogs, with the view to support individuals on a 1:1 basis as well as holding motivational lectures and seminars.

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