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Monday, January 4, 2016

A GREEN BEAN RIDE STORY: Electrolytes are not just for horses

"I wanted to share a little incident that happened this weekend. We are always on the quest to learn more and part of that should include ways to become better partners in our 2 member team, consisting of ourselves and our mount.
This weekend I attended a ride. I've been there before and it's a lovely one. It's cold and windy and I was prepared with the proper clothing for horse and rider. I checked my lists and only forgot one thing, which is typical, but the item wasn't overly important.
Here is how my 50 mile ride went:
I ate pretty good during the ride considering I don't normally eat real good, and I drank 4 bottles of water through the ride and most of one other during the holds.
I did fall off my horse during the first loop (goober pony of mine) hitting hip first, shoulder, then head popped the ground. Nothing hard though. I just got back up and continued on.
Did walk about 10 miles of the last loop since I thought my horse may be getting tight and had 2 extra miles after a wrong turn in the dark. My team mate, was waiting for me at the finish, but when I didn't show up shortly after  my other team mate, she got worried and walked out towards where she figured was my headlamp shining and rang me. She rescued me showing me where I needed to be headed for the last mile to camp and jovially walked that last mile with me keeping my spirits up.
We got back, vetted in with about 20 min or so to spare, settled the horse and headed to the dining hall. I had a headache and was tired, but that's not totally unusual for me.
I sat with my Greenbean team mates chatting but started feeling more tired and a little nauseated. Laid my head down and tried to rest (I had the thought in my head that maybe I was coming down with something since a virus has been going around).
I decided to leave and told Flash that I was going to the trailer to lay down. As I got up I started feeling clammy, like I was going to be sick. So I headed out the door towards the restroom and barely got outside of it when I started to get real faint, grabbed the wall and crumpled down.
I just remember bits and pieces after that. A fellow waking me, ladies sitting with me, offering me things, people asking questions and checking my pulse and BP, someone kissing my cheeks. I just wanted to sleep.
An ambulance was called. Flash sat with me and encouraged me to go, called my husband who also encouraged me to go to the ER...I am a fairly stubborn soul .
Turns out my elytes were way off causing some small heart issues. Way low in potassium. I did get a CT scan (normal) and lots of fluids.
How embarrassing to say the least, especially since I harp about elytes for us during the summer. I know better, but still a lesson learned. I just need more than I thought and even more so in the winter when we aren't drinking quite as much but still exerting the same effort into riding. And people think that it's not that much work to ride horses wink emoticon.
***Moral of the story: We take such measures to make sure our mounts are well cared for during a ride. What are we doing for ourselves to make sure that we are at our best for them?
***Another question: Who is your contact at a ride if you need help? Who can come immediately to help and knows your history? Is it in your phone under I.C.E = In Case of Emergency, with notes as to any medical history? I have a Road ID bracelet that has emergency numbers and my allergies. Guess who left it in her truck on the gear shift because she rode with her buddy? Guess who is getting another made ASAP to put with her tack so that she will wear it next time all ride weekend. My BFF had my info, she had my husbands number, she knew that my BP was normally on the lower side of normal BP's and could convey that, though mine was much lower than it should have been. She could tell them my history and she knew I was stubborn. She did the right things.
Things happen even when we plan and prepare, but sometimes we forget the basics. Being as prepared as we can helps when stuff hits the fan." 

Posted with this rider's  and a mentor's permission as a 101 learning opportunity for ALL OF US.

So what can we do to avoid this happening?   How do we keep our human electrolytes from taking a nose dive and avoid wilting at a ride? 


Bruce Weary's wisdom: Endurance 101 

"Green Bean asked me to offer some ideas regarding staying hydrated and fed properly at an endurance ride so as to not get sick as well as to keep up your strength and mental capacity. I guess first thing I would mention is that the top priority at a ride is not our horse's health. It is OUR health. Many of us would fall on a sword for our horse's well being, but if we as the rider don't give our own physiologic needs top priority, it won't matter if the horse isn't doing well--we won't be at our best to make good decisions and manage him properly anyway. So, decide at the outset that you will take care of yourself FIRST, before, during and after the ride. This means experimenting with foods that appeal to you and that you can keep down even when you're nervous, stressed, or working hard. Preferably, these foods will have some protein, carbs, and salt in them. We need each of them to continue to exercise and keep our brain fueled for long periods of time, and keep our thirst mechanism functioning. It is important to not consume just water. That can dilute your body's electrolytes and cause problems as well. As much as we caution to not ride your horse in an event harder than you do at home, my experience has been that most riders expend far more energy at a ride than they ever do riding at home, so these fatigue, dehydration and nausea issues rarely come up at home, and many riders aren't prepared for them when they happen. The first instinct may be to "tough it out" and try to get through the ride anyway, on decreasing body reserves, and sometimes disaster strikes. So, you really have to experiment and be willing to eat when you aren't hungry, and drink when you aren't thirsty. Every year before Tevis, I ask my doctor to prescribe me some Compazine, which is an anti-nausea medication. It helps me not get sick with all the night riding at Tevis, so that might be a consideration for those riders who skip eating because their tummies don't feel right. There are also some great companies, like "Hammer Nuitrition" that produce products for ultrasport participants. So, to sum up, practice at home, eat and drink even when you don't feel like it, take care of YOU FIRST, ask for help if you think you may need it, and consult your doctor for suggestions on how to handle any medical conditons or issues that might arise."

Endurance rider: electrolytes for the human bean ☺ 

 KNOW THE SIGNS

Learn how to recognize heat related illness.
source: http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/understanding-heat-related-illness-symptoms 
  •  Nausea, extreme thirst, cramping, fatigue, weakness, lack of coordination, confusion, dizziness, fainting, clammy wet skin, dry and hot skin, slow or weakened pulse, confusion...

TACTICS TO AVOID HEAT RELATED ILLNESS

Source: http://www.karenchaton.com/2010/07/care-rider/

The next article is from ultra cycling/ what we do is very similar in exertion (only we are sitting on a heated up furnace), however, the logic is the same.  We must replace what evaporates and sweats out.

Source: https://www.ultracycling.com/sections/articles/nutrition/electrolytes.php

A couple of easy to consume electrolyte supplements can be found here.

Another gem from ultra-cycling about SALT & BONKING. 
source:   http://www.ultracycle.net/nutrition/bonk.php

It's a year round factor:

Exertional heat stroke during a cool weather marathon: a case study.

We can indeed overheat in lower temperatures...takes a special kind of expert to do it but it can happen!

LOW BLOOD SUGAR

 While we are on this topic we need to talk a bit about another---what about low blood sugar on long distance rides.   You burn about 400 calories + an hour on a trotting horse.  Over 50 miles you may burn 20,000 calories!   That is not a typo.   20,000!!!    Low blood glucose (sugar) can put you down just as easily as an electrolyte imbalance.   You must fuel the work similarly to how you are fueling your horse.. If you don't, you will BONK.  Don't BONK!!!  Below you will find a strategy to avoid bonking.

Avoiding Low Blood Glucose Levels During Exercise
source document: http://www.onetouch.com/articles/lowbloodglucoselevels

Know the Signs!

Shakiness/Anxiety
Sweating
Chills
Clamminess
Dizziness
Nausea
Desire to sleep
Behavioral changes
Loss of coordination
Fatigue
Unconsciousness (passing out)


  • Shakiness
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Sweating, chills and clamminess
  • Irritability or impatience
  • Confusion, including delirium
  • Rapid/fast heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Hunger and nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Blurred/impaired vision
  • Tingling or numbness in the lips or tongue
  • Headaches
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Anger, stubbornness, or sadness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Nightmares or crying out during sleep
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • - See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hypoglycemia-low-blood.html#sthash.KDWWA2Zm.dpuf

  • Shakiness
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Sweating, chills and clamminess
  • Irritability or impatience
  • Confusion, including delirium
  • Rapid/fast heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Hunger and nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Blurred/impaired vision
  • Tingling or numbness in the lips or tongue
  • Headaches
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Anger, stubbornness, or sadness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Nightmares or crying out during sleep
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • - See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hypoglycemia-low-blood.html#sthash.KDWWA2Zm.dpuf
    (DO YOU NOTICE THAT BOTH HAVE MANY SYMPTOMS IN COMMON?)  
    Take care of both issues proactively so you don't have to figure it out.


    In and Out of the box ideas to keep you going:

    • Salty

    Iced down dill pickles at every hold
    Cold V-8 juice
    Half-frozen slushy sports drink/ water mixes.
    Keep electrolyte capsules on your person and take as instructed at every hold.
    Nuun
    Salted cold melon at holds.
    Salty snacks on the saddle.
    Some say avoid the sports drinks as they are full of some rather unsavory things like fructose/sucrose. Do your research. Experiment on hot conditioning rides when not so much is at stake.
    • Fuel the 400 calories per hour you are burning!
    Avoid simple sugars except in small amounts.
    Eat plenty of carbohydrates and some protein for holding power.
    Big crusty sandwiches, fruit, fig bars, yogurt and fruit, on a cold day a big bowl of warm soup.
    Carry a snack with you and eat it mid loop.  Make it easy to reach for and edible on the move.
    If real food just can't go down, resort to protein shakes, again, experiment at home.

    • Cooling from the inside

    Freeze your drink bottles (half full) with water.  Morning of, top off with an electrolyte drink. Dedicate to drinking "before" you are thirsty.

    Do not drink just plain water, water, water....it can flush out the rest of your sodium and even cause convulsions (hyponatremia).  This writer has seen this with my own eyes and it isn't pretty.  So as you are re-hydrating, make sure you are getting sodium at the very minimum, and better to take a formulated sports electrolyte.

    • Cooling from the outside
    Have a bucket of ice water on hand and a sponge for the human component of the ride.  Sponge all of your exposed skin.

    Freeze wet microfiber towels and have them in a cooler of ice in a large zip bag.   Pull one out at the hold and wrap it around your neck to help bring your temperature down.

    Wear well ventilated light colored clothing to reflect the suns rays and allow your skin to cool.

    These ideas just scratch the surface of keeping one's glucose and electrolytes in check during an endurance ride.   Run ideas past an experienced mentor

    Don't crash and burn.

    Don't bonk.

     Controlling these problems up front, you will be much more likely to make it through your ride, and feel much better the next day.  Less brain fog, irritability, muscle aches and pains.   


     








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